A group of Queen Mary third year medical students received their first lecture in the virtual reality (VR) world this week
The lecture is thought to be the first in the metaverse in the UK and can be a vital tool in training future doctors, nurses, and surgeons.
The metaverse has several significant benefits compared to traditional online learning, according to Professor Shafi Ahmed, who led the lecture. Students can replicate activities previously only possible in-person – signalling a potentially game-changing moment for education.
The metaverse is a 3D virtual world where users create avatars of themselves to share spaces, collaborate, and do real activities together. It is a digital world filled with real-life people.
Professor Ahmed, a surgeon and Lecturer in Surgery at Queen Mary University of London, said: “This represents a significant shift in how we can deliver education, especially when there is a practical element like when studying medicine. Future education will rely on hybrid learning platforms.”
“A 3D environment enables us to create 3D assets for example an anatomical model and interact with one another, which can be invaluable in teaching and clearly isn’t a possibility over Zoom or Teams. For example, we can simulate a real-life medical procedure in VR – which can be extremely useful technology in helping to train the doctors and surgeons of tomorrow.”
Some argue that teaching students in the Metaverse helps solve one of the key challenges that has arisen from online learning – a lack of tools in place to enable scientific experiments or any practical, hands-on activities in much the same way that would be possible in-person.
The lecture covered the metaverse in medical education and the digital transformation of medicine – helping students to understand the technology that underpins some of the modern healthcare today. Students joined through either a VR desktop app or an Oculus headset.
There are plans for more lectures to take place in this format, with further modules on the course planned for other students who would like to experience a teaching session through VR.
Professor Ahmed has spent more than six years at Queen Mary teaching using innovative technologies such as using Google Glass, virtual reality, holograms, avatars and mixed reality.