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Can virtual reality really be used within the lecture theatre?
  1. Andrew Graham Davies,
  2. Nick J Crohn,
  3. Laura Anne Treadgold
  1. Specialist Science Education Department, University of Leeds, Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Andrew Graham Davies, Specialist Science Education Department, Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK ; a.g.davies{at}

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We present our initial experiences integrating virtual reality (VR) 360° viewable images within a university medical imaging teaching session and some general transferable learning points for the successful delivery of VR content.

VR has the potential to offer students an immersive educational experience but is not without its limitations. Our initial experience using VR with small groups (n<7) and larger groups (n<35) highlighted several obstacles which needed to be overcome to be able to successfully use VR in teaching. We found that requiring students to use their own devices to view VR content during teaching sessions (downloading the media content and loading it into a suitable app for viewing) presented a variety of problems, with pilot studies only a limited students successfully engaged with the VR content. The problems faced by students were a result of device compatibility (such as software versions, sensor capability such as lack of accelerometers), storage limitations app and browser capabilities (eg, 360° video on YouTube is currently not supported by the Safari browser). The physical device size, button location and screen brightness caused issues when attempting to use some phones in consumer VR headsets. A diversity in student’s digital fluency impacted on the level of student support required in the classroom to ensure engagement, and also made the activity highly labour intensive. The assumption …

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  • Contributors AGD co-designed the student study, designed, prepared and ran a number of the teaching sessions, and revised the manuscript. NJC conceived of using VR content in teaching, created the VR content, led a number of teaching sessions and revised the manuscript. LAT conceived of and co-designed the student study, collected and analysed the data and drafted the manuscript. She is the guarantor.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval University of Leeds School of Medicine Research Ethics Committee (MREC16-100).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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