Information and Communication Technologies Combined with Mixed Reality as Supporting Tools in Medical Education

November 17, 2022

Agnieszka Pregowska, Magdalena Osial, Damian Dolega-Dolegowski, Radek Kolecki and Klaudia Proniewska

The dynamic COVID-19 pandemic has destabilized education and forced academic centers to explore non-traditional teaching modalities. A key challenge this creates is in reconciling the fact that hands-on time in lab settings has been shown to increase student understanding and peak their interests. Traditional visualization methods are already limited and topics such as 3D molecular  structures remain difficult to understand. This is where advances in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), including remote meetings, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Extended Reality (XR, so-called Metaverse) offer vast potential to revolutionize the education landscape. Specifically, how MR merges real and virtual life in a uniquely promising way and offers opportunities for entirely new educational applications. In this paper, we briefly overview and report our initial experience using MR to teach medical and pharmacy students. We also explore the future usefulness of MR in pharmacy education. MR mimics real-world experiences both in distance education and traditional laboratory classes. We also propose ICT-based systems designed to run on the Microsoft HoloLens2 MR goggles and can be successfully applied in medical and pharmacy coursework. The models were developed and implemented in Autodesk Maya and exported to Unity. Our findings demonstrate that MR-based solutions can be an excellent alternative to traditional classes, notably in medicine, anatomy, organic chemistry, and biochemistry (especially 3D molecular structures), in both remote and traditional in-person teaching modalities. MR therefore has the potential to become an integral part of medical education in both remote learning and in-person study.

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