Medical students learn over distance using virtual reality simulation.
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This article presents the results of a demonstration project that was designed with the goal to determine the feasibility and acceptability of medical students in using distance technology and virtual reality (VR) simulation within a problem-based learning (PBL).This pilot project involved students from the Universities of New Mexico and Hawaii and compared (1) control groups consisting of medical students in a tutor-guided PBL session using a text-based case, (2) distance groups using the same text-based case but interacting over distance from multiple sites, (3) groups using a VR simulation scenario integrated into the case without interaction over distance, and (4) combination groups interacting over distance from multiple sites with integration of a VR simulation scenario.The study results suggest that it is possible to successfully conduct a PBL tutorial with medical students from two institutions with the integration VR and distributed distance interaction in combination or independently. The addition of these modalities did not interfere with learning dynamics when compared with traditional tutorial sessions.These findings suggest the feasibility and acceptability by students in the use of VR simulation integrated into a PBL learning session, as well as multipoint distance technologies that allowed interaction between students and tutors in different locations. The authors believe that these modalities can be applied where students and tutors from different institutions are in separate locations and can be used to support interactive experiential learning in a distributed network or on site and suggest areas for additional research.