As an Educator working at a technical institute, it is evident that the pandemic caused significant changes in the way I could deliver courses. In March 2019, the government, regulatory bodies, and health authorities across the world enforced a shutdown of all education schools, including medical and dental schools. Dental education has been impacted tremendously over the past year, including challenges with ensuring students meet clinical requirements dictated by their regulatory body. This change prompted me to research new ways to incorporate current pedagogy, clinical assessments, and courses. Virtual reality (VR) is gaining popularity in the dental field. Multiple post-secondary institutes have already incorporated it into their curriculum (Buchanan, 2001). Research has shown that Simulation training in dentistry is becoming a vital component in the curriculum, as it provides a student with the ability to safely practice and develop clinical skills according to the required competencies and learning outcomes before performing them on patients (Perry, Bridges, & Burrow, 2015). It also allows clinical programs using (VR) technology to personalize individual learning, give support and immediate feedback identifying areas where the student may have difficulties.
As my research takes me into learning more about the possibilities of incorporating (VR) into my clinical courses, I realized that our program is underutilizing technology and resources available to enhance our program. On December 3, 2019, retired investment manager and Calgary philanthropist David Bissett made a $30 million gift to SAIT. In doing so, Bissett stated that” the critical need for Canadians to be fully competitive in digital technology or become a nation falling behind a world has been racing toward digital transformation for some time now, changing how we work, live, and learn” (SAIT, 2019). SAIT’s 2020-2025 strategic plan outlines the need to embed digital and leadership literacy across all school programs (SAIT,2021). In 2020 SAIT opened the school for Advanced Digital Technology, which is ironic considering our lack of available technology within our program.
To produce a high level of education to ensure graduate success, Implementing (VR) in a clinic setting would be a great asset to the program. Research has shown no other technology like virtual reality (VR); allows a person to experience artificial constructs to such a degree that it envelops their senses and makes them feel as though they are there (Southgate, 2020, p. 121). So, my research continues as I move our program into a digital environment to increase clinical success. I have found that this topic is vast, and there are many roads intertwined. I have narrowed down my question, and my research will continue. I welcome any feedback, comments, and ideas to help me navigate the world of (VR).
- Would incorporating (VR) into a learning environment increase clinical competence?
- Would (VR) allow students to complete clinical requirements dictated by their regulatory body?
- What are the logistics of introducing (VR) into a clinical environment?
- Is it possible to incorporate a (VR) environment into a predominantly face-to-face program?
Buchanan, J. A. (2001). Use of simulation technology in dental education. Journal of Dental Education, 65(11), 1225–1231. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.0022-0337.2001.65.11.tb03481.x
Southgate, E. (2020). Virtual reality in curriculum and pedagogy: Evidence from secondary classrooms. Routledge.
SAIT. (n.d.). School for Advanced Digital Technology. SAIT. https://www.sait.ca/about-sait/who-we-are/sait-schools/school-for-advanced-digital-technology.
SAIT. (n.d.). Strategic plan 2020 – 2025. Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025 | SAIT, Calgary, Canada. https://www.sait.ca/about-sait/strategic-plan.