The Digital Media Commons (DMC) has launched 3D Organon Virtual Reality (VR) Anatomy, a new virtual reality anatomy lab that allows students to interact with the bones, muscles, vessels and other organs of a life-like 3D model. Students can add or remove organs and organ systems to see how they relate to each other within the body. They can also remove parts for closer inspection from different angles. The software uses motion animations to show skeletal movement and accurate descriptive text for learning.
“The VR Lab is an introduction to what we can do and a place to experiment, and we will assess student and instructor interest before we decide on the next steps,” said Cheryl Cross, digital media specialist. “We have collaborated with some individual instructors at UNC Greensboro on projects that they’re doing, but we haven’t officially collaborated at the department level yet. We hope to build more collaborative efforts in the future.”
Both faculty and students will benefit from the program. With 3D Organon VR Anatomy it is possible to get more features, including virtual classrooms where instructors could teach. This would require a different license than is currently in place, and the DMC would need to find out if instructors are interested before it is taken in that direction.
“The new program will allow students to experience things from the perspective of others, such as Experience Colorblindness and Becoming Homeless: A Human Experience,” said Cross. “If we have interest in these types of software, we will expand our selection. We are open to any suggestions of software that instructors would like to use in their courses.”
Other educational software available in the DMC includes 3D modeling, 3D drawing, virtual tours of museums and art exhibits, animated video creation and exploring the oceans and space. The DMC also provides entertainment software, including roller coaster rides and arcades, as well as games like Skyrim, Fallout 4 and Arizona Sunshine for users to experience in virtual reality—all available to faculty and students.
“We hope that students and instructors will use the VR Lab as a space to experiment with what they can do with virtual reality,” said Cross.
Many students have found that studying anatomy in virtual reality works well for them. As the program gains more interest across campus, the DMC hopes that tutors will start using the lab for anatomy instruction. This would allow the DMC to purchase software for chemistry, biochemistry, data visualization and other fields of study.
“VR is a new frontier in digital and visual literacy,” said Cross. “Many of our programs allow not just the experience of someone else’s work, but the creation of one’s own work in VR.”
It all starts with experiencing the VR environment, so that both the educational and entertainment software are helping develop the skills associated with this type of digital media. Once a student develops the “reading” skills through experience, they can start developing the “writing” skills necessary for creating virtual reality media themselves.
Next spring, the DMC will have a 360° VR camera for checkout that can be used to create virtual experiences. Many applications in our current library can be used as a tool to create, including Tilt Brush and Kingspray Graffiti for drawing and painting, several programs for 3D modeling, and Mindshow for creating animated videos.
“The future of the VR Lab will be driven by our users’ interests and needs, so we welcome input from students and instructors as to what they want to do with virtual reality,” said Cross.