December 4, 2020

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education gives you strength

Case Western Reserve University achieves apparent global first with mixed-reality education during ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

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The signature HaloAnatomy mixed-reality software for the Microsoft HoloLense kept 185 first-year medical students from...

The signature HaloAnatomy mixed-reality software for the Microsoft HoloLense kept 185 first-year medical students from coming to campus.

CLEVELAND — As the world pivoted to life at home amid the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine found an innovative way to engage their students.

For the first time ever, an all-remote anatomy course was unveiled using the University’s signature HoloAnatomy mixed-reality software for the Microsoft HoloLense. This enabled 185 first-year medical students to take the course entirely from home. 

Data reflected in a survey of the students from the course show that an overwhelming majority of those students across the U.S. and Canada preferred the remote course and believe they can effectively learn anatomy via the mixed-reality application.

“This really does have global implications for how education is delivered,” said Interactive Commons’ Faculty Director and professor of radiology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Mark Griswold. “It represents the first significant push to deliver this kind of education broadly to a global audience as part of the overall CWRU strategic plan.”

The post-course survey results showed that 81 percent of the students who responded said that the sessions were equal to or better than in-person instruction; 84 percent said that they believe future students can “effectively learn human anatomy” via remote mixed-reality application; and that 58 percent of the students actually preferred remote delivery to in-person classes, according to a press release from the University.

“We’ve had an opportunity to imagine what the future of education will look like with devices like HoloLense, and we had always envisioned students using it to connect and collaborate — whether together in class or remotely,” said Erin Henninger, executive director of Interactive Commons, the university-wide entity that helps faculty, staff, and students use a number of visualization technologies to enhance teaching and research.

Henninger continued, “It took a pandemic to realize that future is now, and fortunately we had the infrastructure in place to quickly pivot our software and successfully deploy this enable the largest, shared group experiences in HoloLense in the world.”

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