What Is Immersive Learning?

Immersive learning involves putting people in virtual learning environments to recreate real-world scenarios. This type of learning helps employees in the medical field practice certain techniques and skills in safe virtual spaces.

There are a variety of immersive learning types available for healthcare provider training. The benefits of virtual reality (VR) training include promoting focus and improving memory retention — just to name a few. In addition, it is also important to ensure that immersive VR learning is utilized according to best practices. This allows a healthcare organization to maximize the benefits of VR training for its staff.

Types of Immersive Learning

There are four main types of immersive learning for medical personnel. Immersive learners can take advantage of just one of these types, all four, or a combination. Each type of immersive learning tool fits best with a certain kind of training or class goal.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) takes advantage of the actual world by placing virtual items within a real environment. This gives medical professionals an enhanced experience of the physical world.

Virtual input added to the real world can include sound bytes, videos, visuals, Global Positioning System (GPS) information, and more. This virtual content responds to alterations in the person’s environment, usually when they move.

People often confuse augmented reality with mixed reality. The biggest difference between the two is this: mixed reality provides digital components that directly interact with reality; augmented reality overlays digital items onto real-world views, but does not directly anchor these digital components to the actual world. In AR, the digital content does not interact with the reality that users view.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) relies on a digital environment, complete with objects and scenes that seem to be real. This lets a medical professional feel immersed in this virtual space.

The user experiences a virtual learning environment directly through an apparatus called a VR headset. Also called VR goggles, the VR headset goes over the user’s head, completely covering their eyes. This gives the person an immersive learning experience. The goggles contain a device that measures the user’s movement, usually an accelerometer or a sensor.

As opposed to AR, VR relies on a fully immersive learning experience — in VR, everything a medical professional experiences in the virtual learning environment is artificial. This type of immersive learning relies on digitally-made visuals, sounds, and other forms of input for the senses.

Mixed Reality

As mentioned above, mixed reality (MR) provides the user with the ability to interact in real time with computer-based technology.

MR exists on a spectrum, blending the digital world on one end with the physical world on the other. This creates a three-dimensional immersive learning experience where a healthcare provider can use virtual components to interact with the real world.

Whereas a person needs a screen to experience AR, the most common way to experience MR is with a headset. This is similar to the VR experience.

The potential applications for MR are endless. Examples of using MR for healthcare providers include a surgeon practicing heart surgery by interacting with a digital person on an operating table, a technician rehearsing a blood draw on a digital arm, or emergency services personnel learning life-saving techniques on a digital human in an emergency room.

Simulated Learning

Simulated learning is less immersive than either AR or VR. Although still immersive, simulated learning allows medical professionals to practice and learn medical skills and techniques in a virtual learning environment. This replaces the real experience by replicating certain parts of the real world within a completely interactive virtual space.

Examples of simulated learning in health care are the full-body mannequin simulators that emerged in the 1960s in the area of anesthesia. These early medical simulators allowed medical providers to practice inserting airway tubes and inject anesthesia without having to use real patients.

Since then, much more advanced technology has emerged. For example, the Human Patient Simulator (HPS) from Medical Education Technologies Inc. (METI) is a full-sized mannequin that delivers real-life medical scenarios that quickly alter to fit a medical instructor’s needs. The revolutionary HPS accurately mimics human reactions to medical procedures like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), airway tube insertion, and receiving intravenous (IV) medicines. The HPS is so lifelike that medical students have cried when the mannequin virtually dies.

Simulated learning can help improve the knowledge and skills of healthcare professionals, all while guarding actual patients against certain health risks.

Benefits of Immersive Learning

Immersive technologies have the potential to make learning within the healthcare context better than ever before. Immersive learning experiences offer several benefits for healthcare providers.

Immersive Learning Is Distraction Free

Typical electronic learning can be very distracting for a person, including medical professionals. While attempting to learn on a phone, tablet, or computer, a learner can be frequently distracted by ongoing notifications from a smart device. In addition, engaging on the internet can draw attention away from learning and onto unnecessary web searches that waste valuable time.

Immersive learning experiences help to eliminate distractions, allowing learners to focus and learn more effectively.

SimX removes artificial drop-down menus and gamified interactions that can distract a person’s attention while in the virtual learning environment. SimX allows for a distraction-free medical learning experience where medical personnel can interact directly with the virtual patient — just like they would in real life.

Immersive Technology Promotes Focus

Currently, the average attention span for humans is only about 12 seconds. With such a plethora of distractions in the world, virtual spaces can help improve today’s incredibly short attention spans. Focus while on the job is extremely vital to the healthcare industry, and immersive learning can provide healthcare personnel the needed focus to perform their essential work better.

Since immersive technologies completely consume a person’s attention, this improves engagement and overall learning aptitude. The engaging realism of VR is much less costly to create than traditional simulation. This is especially true for mass casualty situations involving healthcare workers.

Immersive Learning Increases Emotional Connection and Motivation

Immersive learning environments make people think their digital surroundings are actually real. This leads them to often have increased emotional empathy in the events and scenarios in which they are engaged. When a healthcare professional becomes emotionally bonded during their VR training, they may be more motivated to complete their immersive learning course.

The medical realism of SimX VR training allows healthcare teams to become emotionally engaged in their learning. Traditional mannequins have several limitations. However, SimX provides realistic and believable medical qualities such as rashes, seizures, stroke symptoms, missing limbs, body types, accurate age representations, and specific racial features. All of this realism helps learners emotionally connect during their SimX training, promoting increased motivation to train in virtual learning environments.

Virtual Learning Environments Provide Personalized Learning

Immersive learning centers directly on the learner. It enables a medical provider to engage with VR training at their own pace. Personalized virtual learning environments promote learning achievement, allowing healthcare providers to effectively master their medical techniques and procedures. In addition, the personalized learning approach of immersive technologies allows medical staff to rehearse the scenario and technique as many times as they need until they have achieved mastery.

One way SimX centers on the learner is by being fully customizable regarding patient demographics and essential medical environments. SimX specifically offers a personalized immersive learning experience for emergency medical services (EMS) training.

Immersive Learning Improves Memory Retention

Virtual learning environments improve memory retention because learners have the vital opportunity of living through the scenario during VR training.

In 2018, researchers studied the effect of immersive VR training on the learning and memory retention of medical students. They found that using immersive learning for neuroanatomy can increase motivation to study and also improve memory retention.

SimX VR training can help improve memory retention for healthcare providers. This can lead to reduced medical errors and patient deaths. Overall, this results in a reduction in healthcare costs.

SimX offers vital improvements to healthcare training through its revolutionary VR technology.

Immersive Learning Best Practices

Immersive learning is valuable to healthcare training. However, there are certain steps that each healthcare organization should follow when initially offering immersive technologies as part of their training programs. This will help healthcare institutions tailor immersive learning to the specific needs of their staff — allowing them to maximize the benefits of immersive learning experiences.

Here are four steps a healthcare organization can take when introducing VR training to its staff:

  • Ensure immersive learning is the optimal learning tool — Organizations need to first make sure immersive technologies will meet their learning objectives and outcomes goals.
  • Choose the appropriate type of immersive learning — Companies need to figure out which type of immersive learning will best meet their training goals for their medical personnel. This may be fully immersive VR, AR, or MR.
  • Clearly introduce VR training — Although immersive technologies are fun, companies need to introduce VR training alongside existing training materials. This will allow medical personnel to better accept immersive learning as a form of training.
  • Structure the immersive learning — Since learners have such a large amount of control over their experience, companies need to structure scenarios for their medical trainees. This ensures high-quality immersive learning.

SimX Is the Most Advanced VR Simulation Platform on the Planet

SimX offers numerous features for healthcare training, including over 150 patient models, more than 30 environments, and over 300 various tools and procedures.
There are several reasons why SimX is optimal for healthcare education and training. Check out the revolutionary features of SimX today, and bring your healthcare organization to the next level.