Oxford University uses virtual reality to power blended learning and boost medical student education

Students at Oxford University use virtual reality simulation to augment medical student education.

Blended learning combines traditional learning techniques with interactive, digital resources to optimise student engagement. This practice can be particularly effective within the context of medical education – where students are required to absorb vast amounts of complex practical and conceptual knowledge. With this in mind, Oxford Medical Simulation’s platform has been designed to complement in-classroom teaching methods with cutting edge virtual reality simulation to take medical students’ learning to the next level.

Medical students at Oxford University have been using our simulation software at the OxSTaR centre to effectively combine learning techniques. Blending the use of our platform with conventional lectures, learners have followed in-classroom study by cementing their practical and clinical skills in VR. Users at Oxford told us that: “As a learning experience, pairing the VR with a lecture beforehand worked well – the VR was an opportunity to consolidate and put the learning into practice.”

Differentiated learning is not a radically new concept in medical training and education – students have traditionally supported their theoretical studies with physical, mannequin-based simulation. However, it’s not uncommon for medical students to get access to a physical simulation session as little as once in an academic year. What is exciting about how Oxford University is using our virtual reality simulation platform is the immediate nature of learning theory in the lecture hall and then instantly – and seamlessly – applying that learning within a simulated scenario.

The upshot of embedding virtual reality simulation into medical training is improved learner confidence and transfer of learning to practice. Because the simulation software is readily accessible, students can repeat scenarios as many times as they need to build confidence. This is crucial to priming learners to enter the hospital environment. The medical students at Oxford University recognise how VR simulation will help them prepare for real-life situations: “It’s really good to get the experience of being put in the driver’s seat, making the decisions and then following through with the management. As a medical student, there is a lot of standing around watching people do things. You tell yourself that you would make those decisions, but it’s nice to actually practice making the decisions. I think it will give me more confidence to make those decisions in real life.”

It’s encouraging to see students responding to virtual reality simulation with virtual patients in such a positive way. Providing readily available, scalable and accessible learning content that transforms learning and, ultimately, real-life practice, is built into the design of our platform. Oxford Medical Simulation will be keeping up the good work with Oxford University and leading institutions to bring this experience to learners around the world.

Here is another blog that may interest you: NHS doctors train using virtual reality to improve care for people with diabetes