Parker University surges ahead, partnering with virtual reality for schools providers
Since its founding in 1982, Parker University has stayed on the cutting edge of technological advancements that specifically enhance student education, and earlier this year it received a significant tech boost when it partnered with two industry-leading virtual reality (VR) medical simulation and software platforms that provide a virtual reality lab for schools.
Virtual reality from home
The initiative is to deliver clinical case simulations using VR technology, and it has incorporated the same technology used worldwide by top institutions like the Mayo Clinic, Stanford, Northwestern, the University of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Air Force and others. It allows students to work together in multiplayer VR cases, either together in the same space or from the safety of their own homes. The VR solutions work to enhance both in-classroom and online learning, making it possible to conduct sophisticated instruction that provides realistic learning experiences for students.
The custom simulations created help develop and reinforce soft skills such as empathy and communication with the patient and to help familiarize the student with physical landmarks and tools for patient examination.
Some critics in the industry are concerned that Parker University students will no longer learn how to adjust real patients, and nothing is further from the truth. Clinical simulation and a virtual reality lab for schools is not intended to replace hands-on labs. It is a tool to support and enrich classroom learning and be a bridge to real patient interactions.
The VR simulations run on top-of-the-line, all-in-one wireless headsets that cost drastically less than older wired models. Instructors, students and simulation moderators are able to work simultaneously in the same virtual environments with each other, whether they are a few feet away in the same classroom or across the country.
“We are pleased to be adding so quickly to our recently announced suite of advanced educational technology solutions for our students,” says Parker University President William E. Morgan, DC. “We are committed to maintaining our educational technology leadership for both online and in-classroom instruction. The significant investments we have made in this area have already paid off in greatly enhancing instruction, which has been challenging for most universities during the pandemic. The fact that our students have been able to continue their instruction without interruption during this period and that we are experiencing record enrollment speaks to the great hunger students have for best-in-class education that exploits the most advanced technology solutions.”
Virtual reality lab for schools: an interactive software partnership
The university has also continued its partnership with a leader in the educational technology realm, another medical education company that develops and sells interactive software to help provide virtual reality lab for schools combining state-of-the-art interactive technology with real anatomy from the National Library of Medicine’s Visible Human Project®, as well as higher-resolution images.
The company collaborates with professional medical societies, educators and practicing professionals to create and test next-generation tools to educate and train a wide range of health care professionals and students. The partnership aims to enhance anatomy comprehension and interpretation through an immersive virtual learning environment that increases student engagement and improves learning outcomes.
The virtual anatomy dissection software includes more than 2,000 anatomical structures with correlated 3D and cross-sectional views. Students are given three ways to learn anatomy — the traditional gross anatomy lab, a VH Dissector on their devices, and now, in VR.
High-resolution immersive headsets, together with the software, offer an unrivaled educational environment with proven comprehension of spatial relationships and intuitive interactions. In addition, this type of solution allows for the integration of real anatomy at a relatively low cost and provides constant availability.
“Until you have experienced using [the software] in virtual reality mode, you cannot begin to imagine the tremendous benefits this state-of-the-art technology can bring to anatomy education,” says Parker University Professor and Academic Chair in the Department of Basic Sciences Georgina Pearson. “The interface is the most realistic experience you can have studying anatomy, short of performing actual cadaver dissections. You can easily manipulate, rotate, zoom in, dissect, expose and study the human anatomy. The experience is almost as if you had a holographic cadaver standing before you, ready for you to explore and study any time you need, even from home. This will be a powerful supplement to the actual cadaver dissections we perform in our program.”
Recognized for innovative
The university was listed among the winners of the 2021 FutureEdge 50 Awards, which will be celebrated at the CIO’s Future of Work Summit online event on Sept. 21-23, 2021. The semiannual event focuses on organizations adapting to the changing business landscape with advances in automation, cloud-native applications and digital innovations.
“Creating truly immersive and interactive educational experiences, both in the classroom and online, can energize and empower students, engaging them both intellectually and experientially,” says Senior Director of Academic Informatics and Compliance Lisa Gabriel. “This is how cutting-edge technology can not only help students advance their knowledge but also develop and sharpen their professional skills.”
CHRISTINE PERRENOT is a writer for Parker University.