Assistant Professor of Education Stacie Bradshaw is currently piloting virtual reality technology in her education courses. With the help of virtual reality headsets and iPod touches, students are able to have unique 3D experiences using a variety of virtual reality apps. The virtual reality kits also allow the education students to gain hands-on experience on how to implement educational technology in their future classrooms. One assignment in the Introduction to Teaching course requires students to create a K-12 lesson plan that adheres to current state standards. By using the Google Expedition app, for example, Roane State education students can design lessons that not only teach the content but that are also interactive.
Stacie explains how important these virtual experiences are to her students. “By using VR technology in the EDU courses, we are allowing students to view things through a different lens. We want our students to see how they can open up doors for their future students by using this simple tool”. This technology provides Stacie with the opportunity to increase her students’ engagement with the lessons and their retention of the information by allowing them to see exactly what they are discussing in class versus showing them a two-dimensional image on a page. “Even though we have just gotten started using this technology in our education classes, the students seem receptive and excited about it.”
Phillip Hyun, Assistant Professor of Physics, recently discovered that using the iPad Pro to project his lecture notes has enhanced student retention of course content. The iPad Pro provides him with the mobility to freely interact with students during lectures. He is able to teach more interactively, walking around the room to check on student progress. “It naturally gets students more engaged”, Hyun states. “I’ve asked students to work on problems using the iPad Pro, which are then projected on the board. Then, other students could make comments on their peers’ problem-solving. Thus, peer discussion and evaluation on course topics have been made using the iPad Pro”
Assistant Professor of Mathematics Elizabeth Weaver utilizes the ELE to engage her MATH 1410 and 1420 students, making the class an interactive learning community. Because the students in this sequence all plan for careers in elementary education, it is imperative that they not only master the content, but also gain experience using technology and presenting information to others. The mobile desks in the ELE make it possible to easily create groups of varying sizes to work on projects, while the wall-mounted televisions and the iPad cart available for check out through the library allow the groups to share their work with the rest of the class. Professor Weaver also uses the Explain Everything app on her iPad to write notes during each class, which allows her to save those notes as PDFs and post on Momentum if someone is absent. Other applications such as NearPod work well in the ELE to make some lessons more interactive whenever a project or activity allows for the addition of technology.
Who is responsible for the immersive technology that is being used to enhance instructional opportunities for RSCC paramedic students? Tom Herron, Instructor and Clinic Coordinator for the EMS Program, is exposing his students to the world of virtual and augmented reality. He is providing students with learning experiences that allow him to create a better visualization of the human anatomy. Forget 2D textbook images—Tom has implemented 3D holographic visuals in his instruction that provides more of a realistic image of the organs within the human body. This past year, CTAT purchased the Microsoft Hololens and partnered with the EMS program to pilot this new technology that will potentially have a significant impact on student learning. Tom stated, “The Hololens is helping me re-imagine my teaching. Since the EMS profession depends so much on knowledge of Anatomy and Physiology, I used to spend a good amount of time trying to explain and create visualizations for the students of how organs look and work within the body. With the Hololens, I am able to immerse the students in the actual environment.” In a recent interview with Tom, we asked the following questions (responses included):
How has the Hololens transformed your students’ learning?
Engagement is the first thing that comes to mind. Whether projecting from the Hololens or allowing the students to operate the headset, they are more actively involved in their classroom learning. The ability to watch, interact with and view all angles of the heart, brain, and other parts of the body allows them to truly conceptualize the topics we are discussing in class. With this conceptualization cemented with the Hololens, it becomes much easier to explain how the body is functioning in the emergencies they are dealing within the field.
Have you seen a difference in student learning outcomes?
I have seen an increase in test scores for students. Cardiology is considered one of the more difficult topics in the Paramedic Program. Now, when using the HoloHeart app, the students are able to gain a visual understanding of heart function that was previously unavailable. When testing for cardiology occurred, this year’s cohort scored, on average, 5 points higher than the previous year’s cohort.
How does the use of VR/AR/MR better prepare your students for the workforce?
By utilizing the Hololens to help students visualize complex anatomy and physiology topics, we are creating a strong foundational knowledge for them. From there, we can create immersive scenarios for the students to practice applying this knowledge of how the body works to decide the best treatments for ill or injured patients.
How do you envision the Hololens and other technologies will impact your future students?
I believe that with the maturation of the Hololens technology and app environment, especially with our partnerships with other programs at RSCC (Computer Science and CTAT), we will be able to continue creating a massively immersive experience for our students. We can augment that with our virtual reality technology by creating an environment that is more compatible with technologically adept generations that produce even better EMS practitioners. Ultimately, this is going to increase the ability and delivery of emergency care to the residents of TN. Based on Tom’s responses, it easy to see that he is making a difference at Roane State and within the community. His willingness and eagerness to provide his students with rich learning experiences have the potential to produce more equipped and better-prepared EMTs.