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Exploring The Benefits Of Virtual Reality On Biotechnology Education


Life sciences and their connecting fields are vital areas for human engagement and exploration, with uncapped potential for benefiting the human species and the flora and fauna that we share our world with. Though interest in the life sciences hasn't necessarily fallen, there are a number of problems that are holding back education in the fields. What's more, the more that biotechnology advances, and the sorts of relevant activities get more complicated, the less possible it is for students to get the education that they need to join the field. Issues like soaring costs, the vital need for practical lessons, large usage of valuable, limited resources and issues relating to moral and ethical viewpoints on experimentation all make for a field that is wading through muddy water. Enter VR. Virtual reality has already had amazing levels of adoption in all sorts of different areas, from gaming to shopping. And, it has a role to play in biotechnology education as well. Let's take a look.

Visualization and Analysis Of Complex Structures

When in VR, you can see anything with the right software. Whilst microscopes give us an amazing insight into the cellular world, comprehending images on that 2D plane and with the lack of detail that can sometimes accompany it is nowhere near the level of detail achievable through VR. In VR you are able to expand those tiny structures until they are larger than your body and manipulate them in a 3D field, allowing for much better comprehension and analysis of what is present. This can simply be an excellent way to teach, since students get a much fuller understanding of what it is that they are looking at when they do look through the microscope.

Reducing Costs Associated with STEM Degrees

Degrees in life science, biotechnology and anything else like it tend to be very expensive. There's at least one very simple reason for this. STEM courses often involve the use of laboratories, places which are, in their very nature, expensive to maintain and to use. The equipment, personnel, upkeep, supplies and all the rest of the components come together to create a daunting looking bill. All of the compliance issues associated with laboratories serve only to add to the financial issues as well. VR allows you to bypass these costs in a simple step. Already there are many different applications that simulate real spaces in a very detailed way.

Practical Experience Limitations

Fields related to biotechnology demand in-person training that goes beyond a classroom. Being in the lab with hands-on guidance and experience is crucial for education and can't be sacrificed. With VR, you are able to get the in-person training in a lab and in a classroom at the same time. This has the added benefit of allowing students to link their theoretical training directly to the work that they are doing 'in the lab'.

No Ethical Dilemmas

Where some of the practices within the life sciences have come under scrutiny in the past, in virtual reality there aren't the same issues or consequences. Staff and students can remain compliant to even the strictest standards on every front, simply by only working in the virtual realm. This is a tedious issue for many scientists who would welcome the ability to be able to train and teach without the scrutiny.

Gamification

In terms of attracting students, virtual reality still has an advantage over traditional lab and classroom work. There are VR applications that integrate quizzes and tests into all of the practical laboratory experiments which nullifies any of the boredom of the theoretical side to the science. There are even ways for VR applications to present real world scenarios (a murder scene for example) as a case study for students to work on.

Conclusion

Overall, you can hopefully see that so many of the issues associated with biotechnology, the costs, the risks, the ethics, the compliance issues, the resources, the attraction and more, are dealt with in one fell swoop by VR. It's truly a dream advancement for educational institutions.

Author Bio

Michael Dehoyos

Michael Dehoyos is a website developer and freelance editor at Academic Brits. He assists people with their digital business projects as well as sharing his knowledge by contributing to numerous sites and publications.