In 2018, West Coast University began exploring new technology by partnering with Microsoft to immerse students into the exciting world of augmented reality.
WCU Chief Information Officer Segar Annamalai said the primary reason to introduce the HoloLens was to improve student learning opportunities by providing an innovative, individualized experience that met the needs of visual learners.
Augmented or Virtual: What’s the difference?
Both virtual and augmented realities provide the experience through the 3D, high-definition audio and video, but there is still a big difference. The VR is completely immersive and puts a user into isolated reality while the AR is partly immersive. In the world of augmented reality, your user can look around and through artificial objects of the expanded layer.
"The results so far speak for themselves," Annamalai said. "There's been between a one- or two-letter grade improvement from pre-test to post-test scores. Students at WCU-Los Angeles had a 10 percent improvement in test scores compared to last year when there was no AR."
Working closely with Microsoft to pilot the HoloLens and implement augmented reality in the classroom, WCU challenged ourselves to look at different opportunities to enhance the student learning experience in new ways. The technology allows our students to enlarge, isolate, dissect and even walk inside every system and part of the human body.
“We used to say that there are three types of learners: visual, auditory or kinesthetic. But as we start to implement technology into the classroom, we’ll start to see a rise of mutual learners,” WCU-Los Angeles associate professor Shahram Bakhtiari said. “For students that learn best when they are immersed in the subject and they feel themselves in the environment, AR (augmented reality) is the gateway to that future.”
Students are also using the headsets in more specific scenarios that can't be duplicated by simply using in a textbook, like walking through a human eye to see its components or seeing what happens to the heart during a heart attack.
“I'm always interested in learning about new technology so the fact that WCU implemented AR into nursing is so cool. It’s just an insane breakthrough that we are going to be able to use now, and keeping using far into the future,” WCU-LA BSN student Justin Ridolfi said.
“I'm always interested in learning about new technology so the fact that WCU implemented AR into nursing is so cool. It’s just an insane breakthrough that we are going to be able to use now, and keeping using far into the future.”
— Justin Ridolfi, WCU-LA BSN student
This technology has allowed our students to grasp concepts at a deeper level and truly excel in the course. We are excited to be partnering with Microsoft and Medivis to implement and integrate the HoloLens and the augmented reality software at such a large scale into our curriculum.
“West Coast University is always trying to be the pioneers of the field of education technology and that student-centricity will help our students so when they go into the field they are in very good shape, very good capacity and they’re up-to-date,” Bakhtiari said. “And that's beautiful.