seeming to surround the audience, player, etc. so that they feel completely involved in something
‘Immersive’, when applied to health education is a vague term and is often used as a marketing buzzword so I’m going to try to break it down.
In healthcare simulation, there are two areas where immersion is used effectively:
Immersive spaces can be used to blend these two methodologies together to form a Mixed Reality (MR). Learn more about MR and other simulation methodologies in Health Education England’s A description of simulation-based techniques relevant to education and practice in health and care Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). Immersive spaces are a blank canvas in room form, be it a traditional lecture room with four walls, a floor and a ceiling, or a mobile/pop-up space with temporary walls or a tent.
The walls are blank, ideally covered with specialist paint designed to enhance the projected image quality. The space is equipped with 3-5 projectors which project 360-degree images/video onto the walls and floor, surronding the learner in a virtual environment.
The blending occurs when the manikin-based scenario is performed in the immersive room, hopefully enabling the scearnio to be enhanced by the manipulation of the training environment.
In healthcare education, immersive space technology has been marketed as a way to ‘transport’ learners from one environment to another in a few clicks.
The first time I saw an interactive immersive space, it was in a university. They had invested heavily in their medical and nursing simulation programme and were immensly proud of the their glaring white empty room.
The software was fired up and within a few minutes I was surrounded by a beautiful winter scene, supposedly designed to prepare paramedics for treating a casualty in an austere environment. You could even touch the wall and ‘snow’ would gather on your arm.
I spent 10 years in the ambulance service, and I can assure you, if snow is gathering on you, you’re doing it wrong. I can also assure you, no amount of projected images prepare you for 12 hours in wet socks!
The next example they showed me was a nightclub scene, complete with thumping music and lights flashing in the darkness. This was MUCH more realistic; it was hard to see (immersive rooms are always dark anyway, to accommodate the projection), hard to communicate, and it felt like a stressful working environment.
Simulation is about suspension of disbelief. If you can convince a learner they are not in the blank white room, even for a moment, you’re doing a good job. Some 360-degree video experiences work better than others, the key is focussing on the learning objectives, not what the software can do.
This blended approach is just one way immersive tech can be used, but in my opinion, it’s not the best way. A far better option is to use immersion to ‘bring the curriculum to life’. Interactive presentations, quizzes and videos can be much more engaging and memorable for learners with the injection of fun activity and creativity.
I’ve given a good and bad example of how immersive spaces can be used, if implemented effectively, what are the benefits?
Like every simulation tool you can buy, it depends. If you know what you want to achieve and why, and stay true to those goals, it will be worth it. If you’ve got more money than you know what to do with and you’re buying something because the place down the road has it, you will not get a return on your investment.
There is more than one company supplying these systems so do your due diligence. As an independent distributor, Sim & Skills chooses the best partners and solutions and aligns them with our customers’ objectives.
We believe the best value interactive immersive space solution is the Gener8 Immersive Space. They have achieved what all good businesses do by taking an existing product, adding expertise in healthcare education, and have created something greater than the sum of its parts.
The software is powerful, intuitive and simple. It empowers even non-technical users to create custom environments and integrate presentations and videos with ease. This, coupled with the proficiency to convert and build spaces to suit any need, and expertly curated health education content, makes an unbeatable offering.
Yes! If you have a system that you’re not getting the most out of, you might find upgrading the software and support will help you address your issues with your old system and achieve a return on your investment.