11:00 AM

Virtual reality prepares Ohio State students for real world

Technology helps students train for on-the-job scenarios

In training students at The Ohio State University for careers, virtual reality can play a vital role in preparing them for the environments and situations they will encounter in the workforce, administrators say.

In the College of Education and Human Ecology (EHE), undergraduate students who are preparing to become middle and high school English and journalism teachers use virtual reality to visualize the concepts they’re studying, said Professor Detra Price-Dennis.

“The focus of our course is new media and journalism,” she said. “One way to help them think about new media journalism is to actually have lots of experiences with media-making and thinking about using the tool to tell a story.”

Price-Dennis curated a virtual gallery based on concepts related to new media and journalism.

After students explored the virtual gallery with VR headsets, Price-Dennis “then gave them an opportunity to create a portal to their own personal space where they curated a collection of artifacts that they had made throughout the course that speak to their understanding of the potential and role of new media and journalism with their pedagogy.”

Price-Dennis said she encourages her students to consider the opportunities that virtual reality presents to enhance the learning environment, as well as challenges for students in districts with limited access to advanced technology.

In designing curriculum, future teachers should “think about the affordances of this particular tool and the barriers that it might create for different student populations,” she said. “They need to have a really robust, engaged experience (with virtual reality) as future teachers, so they could think about how do they integrate the curriculum with this technology?”

Nurse-led research to improve patient outcomes

The College of Nursing employs virtual reality as one method to train future health care professionals, said Michael Ackerman, a clinical professor and director of the Master of Healthcare Innovation Program.  

The College of Nursing received a grant to design projects to improve patient outcomes.“We’ve had a long history of simulation at the college, and we’ve had the traditional simulation center where it’s really manikin-based,” he said, referring to medical equipment that simulates human bodies. “About two or three years ago, I really thought that we needed to move towards – we call it extended reality – because it’s not just virtual reality, it’s a continuum of different types of reality.”

The College of Nursing received a grant from the American Nurses Association’s Reimagining Nursing Initiative. The college was one of just 10 awardees nationwide that received a total of $14 million to design projects led by nurses to improve patient access, care and outcomes, according to the organization’s website.

The College of Nursing partnered with College of Engineering Professor Mike Rayo to deploy a program he created that assists nurses in analyzing patient data and projecting future treatment needs.

“Every one of our 670 undergraduate students had at least one simulation, and most of them had more simulations in virtual reality, anywhere from patient scenarios to soft skill training, to community health,” Ackerman said. “We have a scenario on homelessness and what it’s like to be a homeless person. That was the project, and we’re starting year two.”

Collaborating across disciplines

A student participates in a College of Arts and Sciences  workshop.The College of Arts and Sciences Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) also administers several research projects with virtual reality components. One of those projects, “Eyes of Mariam VR,” is an interactive experience that follows the journey of a fictional character named Mariam. The character is an African teenage girl who faces traumatic events that threaten her goal of getting an education. The project is supported by an interdisciplinary research pilot award from Ohio State’s Translational Data Analytics Institute.

“The power of virtual reality, compared to other mediums, is the ability to really step in the shoes and experience reality from the perspective of another person,” said Shadrick Addy, an assistant professor in the Department of Design who is a native of Liberia. In the “Eyes of Mariam VR” project, “you kind of go through that experience of trying to navigate the consequences of not having access to education during a traumatic time for these students.”

Other projects that ACCAD supports include Vascular Surgery VR, which enables medical residents to analyze data for training purposes.

“One of the things about using virtual reality is that it requires expertise from different disciplines,” Addy said. “By working on these projects, I’m able to work with people from computer science, from statistics, people from communication departments, and so forth. This really allows us to be able to collaborate and extend our reach. The more minds that you have, the more expertise that you have on the team working on these projects, the more meaningful it becomes.”

Share this