How Virtual Reality is Transforming Research and Learning at AECC University College

AECC University College is using virtual reality (VR) technology to transform its approach to new research and learning.

VR is increasingly being used across a range of professional sports organisations, from Forumla One motor racing to American football, as a tool to aid the development of performance. With very little research relating to the use of VR in sport performance, we are looking to understand and evidence potential benefits to inform evidence-based interventions and strategies.

We are also interested in the broader psychological interest, in the impact of immersive VR in terms of psychological responses (e.g. emotions) and physical responses (e.g. nausea and motion sickness).

Students studying on our undergraduate sport, exercise and health science; and psychology courses will utilise the system and other tools as part of their broader learning. They will be able to develop real-world vocational skills, experiencing training in a new way. Students will also be able to advance their applied skill-set regarding how to use modern technology in the relevant professions they may seek a career in.

Professor Stewart Cotterill, Head of School of Psychology, Sport and Physical Activity at AECC University College commented, “It is fantastic that we have invested in virtual reality technology. There is real potential to become leaders in VR research, particularly relating to sport performance. This development will also allow us to develop the knowledge skills and expertise of our students to be able to utilise virtual reality systems as they leave us to work in sport, exercise and health settings, and more broadly in the healthcare sector.”

The use of VR technology will also transform the way we offer VR-based consultancy services that build on the evidence-base being developed. This will place us at the forefront of VR development in sport and exercise settings.

We have also considered the future potential to develop simulated environments to create immersive and stimulating learning experiences. This type of technology is already used in the training of GP’s and surgeons. There is some good evidence regarding the positive impact that immersive environments can have for a range of rehabilitation conditions, such as using simulated arctic environments with burns patients.

Research regarding the use of gaming systems, such as the Xbox and PlayStation, in the rehabilitation of stroke patients, is also underway with this type of VR technology possibly offering the next step.

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