Tips from TSE: Using virtual reality as an educational tool

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, November 13, 2009

The phrase “simulation modalities” may conjure up a variety of images. For example, some nursing staff development professionals think of a sophisticated training mannequin that produces computer-generated EKG printouts, responds to intubation efforts, and virtually behaves in ways similar to an actual patient. Others may think of an IV arm used solely for learning how to start IVs.

The point is, there is a wide range of simulation modalities, but many staff development specialists know of only a few, and still more are as of yet unaware of the vast potential for providing education via simulation.

One type is virtual reality, which is a computer-generated world that allows the learner or group of learners to experience various stimuli, often in a 3-D presentation. Learners typically wear head-mounted displays to receive visual and auditory cues. They can interact in the computer-generated world from various sites or be in a physical space in which they can interact with others

Virtual reality is a rapidly developing field and gives a true sense of realism. However, the creation of a complex virtual patient and treatment setting can be time-consuming and expensive. It requires a complete computer model of the patient environment; a way to track visual, audio, and touch fields; adequate hardware for all sensory modalities; and hardware to compute all models, track inputs, and produce outputs in real time

Editor’s note: This excerpt was adapted from the November issue of The Staff Educator. Discover all the benefits of subscribing to The Staff Educator!

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