Active Learning Strategies Associated with Virtual Reality (VR)

Active Learning Strategies Associated with Virtual Reality (VR)

One of the main strengths of the Simulation Learning System (SLS) combined with virtual reality (VR) is its ability to provide practical training that mirrors real-life situations, as the military saying goes, “train how you fight.” To make this effective, creating a strong sense of being part of the situation is essential. This encourages learners to make decisions related to patient care, helping them remember the experience and the lessons they learned.

However, if learners aren’t prepared well, even the most compassionate simulated patients might not have a significant impact on them. Also, if the process of reviewing and discussing performance, known as debriefing, isn’t done well, learners might struggle to understand the experience and use feedback to improve future patient care. VR simulation has its own unique benefits and challenges when it comes to experiential learning. Understanding these aspects can help instructors make the most of VR simulation. Here are some strategies for preparing, using, and debriefing after a VR simulation.

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The Move to Virtual Reality (VR): Linking Theory to Practice

Setting Clear Expectations for Students in the VR Simulation Environment

Before students start a VR simulation, it’s important for instructors to clearly explain the main goals of the scenario. Special attention should be given to objectives related to communication and working together for patient care. This helps students overcome any obstacles they might face. Just like in other simulation methods, students need a basic understanding of the clinical setting. They should know where the simulation takes place (like a hospital or clinic) and the role they’ll play (like a nurse or EMS worker). This knowledge is crucial for them to navigate the virtual medical simulation effectively.

Once they’re inside the scenario, students have to handle the social and medical challenges that come up. This includes understanding the patient’s history and responding to changes in the patient’s condition. Students should share their thoughts and ideas as much as possible, not only with the VR patients but also with other students in the simulation. This helps instructors see if students are meeting objectives related to communication and observation. It’s also important to remind students that they can access healthcare professionals, just like they would in a real clinical situation. This includes talking to the attending doctor and emergency response teams.

The SimX software platform combines the benefits of working with standardized patients and manikin-based simulation. So, students should be ready to interact with virtual patients and other characters just like they would with real people. This means talking to virtual characters naturally, using medical tools for exams, and handling medical devices. SimX aims to make the experience as realistic as possible. For example, tools like stethoscopes, oxygen flow meters, and syringes work similarly to real life, though with some adjustments to make everything run smoothly.

Getting Comfortable with New Technology in the Classroom

Even though VR is great at creating immersive environments with various patient situations, it’s still a fairly new technology. This means students might not be familiar with VR hardware and how to interact in a virtual setting. This lack of familiarity can distract them from the learning experience. To overcome this, instructors should ensure that students have access to training materials beforehand. Students should also be given the chance to explore the VR environment and hardware outside of the actual simulation. Training materials like guides and videos are available to help students understand how VR simulation and the hardware work. Additionally, students should spend some time in the VR tutorial scenario to get used to how things work. This way, they can experience immersion in VR and practice navigating the SimX VR environment.

The Importance of Virtual Patient Situations

With proper preparation, students should understand that the simulation curriculum is realistic and should be treated as a practice for real clinical situations. Many students might not perform perfectly in the simulation. Before starting, they should be reminded that making mistakes in simulated care actually helps improve real patient care. After the simulation, they should be ready to review their performance in a debriefing session, where they discuss their experience without any judgment.

Debriefing in the VR Classroom

In nursing simulation, the debriefing phase is where a lot of learning happens. As the simulation goes on, the SimX Moderator interface automatically keeps track of what students do, including important actions like physical exams and other patient care tasks. The Moderator software also allows instructors to manually track learning goals they set. At the end of a scenario, all these objectives are displayed in a simple debriefing summary. This summary shows how well learners did in each part of the scenario and whether they achieved specific learning goals. It also lists all the events of the simulation in the order they happened. This is useful for talking through the scenario with learners and understanding what happened. With additional tools, it’s even possible to record the entire VR simulation, allowing students to see their actions during the scenario. By comparing this recording with the debriefing summary, students can see where they succeeded or where they need improvement.

When students are well-prepared for VR simulation and familiar with the SimX system, their time in the VR simulation lab can effectively equip them to handle complex patient care experiences. Encouraging them to engage with virtual patients, express their thoughts, and get used to VR hardware and the SimX environment can lead to meaningful experiences. Using the debriefing summary to review how well they met specific learning goals in a safe environment can boost their clinical confidence and help them grow in areas they need. The combination of SLS and VR (powered by SimX) offers a range of challenging clinical scenarios. If students approach it with the right mindset, their time in VR can become valuable and memorable for future healthcare professionals.

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