The University Libraries recently completed a semester-long virtual reality pilot project focused on students studying human anatomy in order to explore how the libraries can partner with teaching faculty to integrate virtual reality learning experiences into UNLV curricula.
A collaboration between the Libraries and teaching faculty in the School of Life Sciences and the School of Allied Health Sciences, the pilot enabled students to explore human anatomy in a fully immersive virtual environment. More than 200 students and teaching faculty utilized the virtual reality equipment and provided positive feedback on their experiences.
Virtual reality, more commonly known as VR, is a computer-generated environment that simulates the physical presence of people and objects to generate a sensory experiences. As VR becomes more accessible and applicable to educational settings, the Libraries have explored options to use current library spaces and services for virtual reality and other digital research practices.
Students studying anatomy can currently check out anatomical models from the Circulation Desk. The VR project worked as a natural extension of these services, enabling students to studying in a virtual environment.
To create space, infrastructure, and identify partners for the VR Lab Pilot, the Libraries formed a cross-departmental task force who chose virtual simulations for human anatomy from a vendor, re-configured an existing media viewing room to house the VR Lab, and created video tutorials, guides, and games for the students using the Lab.
Librarians partnered with Dr. Jenifer Utz, Assistant Professor in Residence, and Angela Hammond, Lab Coordinator in the School of Life Science, to develop an extra credit assignment for students enrolled in Human Anatomy and Physiology I to explore the VR lab, answer questions about the different anatomy applications, and share feedback on their experience. Additionally, Lecturer Michelle Samuels, coordinated with Libraries faculty to bring upper-division students from the Athletic Training Program to the lab for in-class instruction.
In addition to informal feedback from students in these classes, an optional survey was offered to students who used the VR Lab. Comments from students were generally positive or offered constructive feedback enabled the Libraries to make improvements to learning materials, or the Lab space and hardware moving forward. The Libraries also received feedback from teaching faculty partners to develop stronger curricular connections through supplementary instructional materials.
The success of the pilot and the Libraries experience with this pilot is informing planning for a robust virtual reality space that will be included in a renovation of Lied Library’s first floor beginning in Summer 2018. Library faculty have also leveraged this experience to foster additional partnerships with faculty in programs such as Architecture and Physics and Astronomy.
For more information about Virtual Reality opportunities at the University Libraries, please contact, John Watts, Head of the Knowledge Production Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.