Ara first in world to use virtual reality for X-ray training

News News & events

06 Mar 2017

As part of its commitment to contemporary learning environments and delivery, virtual reality training software is being introduced at Ara Institute of Canterbury as a game changer for the medical imaging industry here and internationally.

Students at Ara will be the first in the world to learn to take X-rays with Virtual Medical Coaching (VMC), ground-breaking technology that provides students with a safe, radiation-free environment to perfect their X-ray technique.

“Practical experience is core to our approach to training at Ara, and this will be a giant leap for medical imaging education,” Head of Nursing and Human Services at Ara, Dr Cathy Andrew, says. “We are very pleased to be able to offer our students world leading technology that will help them to develop and refine the skills that are directly relatable to the jobs they will go into. This puts Ara graduates at the forefront of radiography training internationally.”  

Ara will be the first to adopt VMC technology, which was developed by James Hayes, who also lectures in Medical Imaging at Ara, to improve students’ training experience and skills development. Interest from overseas has included Harvard University.

VMC is such a significant development because it mimicks real patients and gives students the opportunity to experiment, make mistakes and learn from them. Medical imaging students around the world currently use decommissioned X-ray units and plastic body parts for training.

“In traditional training, students can’t test different angles of the foot, for example, and expose a patient to three or more X-rays in a row. With this training software, they can find out what happens if they move the foot and what the outcome will be,” Hayes says.

“Ara graduates will now come into the job technically competent on modern machines and with the knowledge and virtual experience to take more complex x-rays,” he says.

Medical Imaging at Ara students will practice their X-ray skills using virtual reality headgear and controllers. The technology will be introduced in semester one.

VMC is coupled with an adaptive e-learning platform, which Ara is also the first to implement. This software adapts based on students’ answers to questions, quickly identifying their strengths and weaknesses. It gives lecturers access to data in order to adjust their course content to meet the needs of individual students.

“As a student, you can’t fail. You only learn. What’s more, as teachers, we get data that helps us tailor our lectures and tutorials to suit. It’s basically everything I’ve ever wanted since I started teaching 10 years ago,” Hayes says.