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Perspect Med Educ. 2014 Sep;3(4):300-11. doi: 10.1007/s40037-013-0107-7.

Augmented reality in medical education?

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Department for Evaluation, Quality and Development of Medical Education, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, 306 IWOO, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB, Nijmegen, the Netherlands,


Learning in the medical domain is to a large extent workplace learning and involves mastery of complex skills that require performance up to professional standards in the work environment. Since training in this real-life context is not always possible for reasons of safety, costs, or didactics, alternative ways are needed to achieve clinical excellence. Educational technology and more specifically augmented reality (AR) has the potential to offer a highly realistic situated learning experience supportive of complex medical learning and transfer. AR is a technology that adds virtual content to the physical real world, thereby augmenting the perception of reality. Three examples of dedicated AR learning environments for the medical domain are described. Five types of research questions are identified that may guide empirical research into the effects of these learning environments. Up to now, empirical research mainly appears to focus on the development, usability and initial implementation of AR for learning. Limited review results reflect the motivational value of AR, its potential for training psychomotor skills and the capacity to visualize the invisible, possibly leading to enhanced conceptual understanding of complex causality.

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