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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Cross-Campus Collaboration Creates Virtual Reality For Teaching

December 18th, 2015

SkullNemanicWhen the Valley Foundation donated a high-speed CT scanner to the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital in 2010, they not only provided state-of-the-art treatment for hospital patients, they expanded learning opportunities for veterinary students.

Dr. Sarah Nemanic, Assistant Professor of Radiology, has a passion for teaching, and loves to use technology to enrich learning experiences. She uses CT scans of patients at the hospital to create 3D models that help students learn anatomy. (See the 3D model of a dog skull, spine and throat above.)

“Understanding anatomy is critical for students to understand how dogs breathe and swallow food, and it is also very important for when they are put under general anesthesia for surgery,” she says.

Dr. Nemanic and student Serena Mills (Class of 2015) worked with Matt Viehdorfer, a master’s student in computer science, to create software that uses CT images to teach. For example, the program can take apart a 3D model and show students all the pieces. “The students learn about the name and function of each part, and then use the program to re-assemble the dog. Students using this program learned this anatomy better than students not using the program,” she says.

Now Dr. Nemanic is working with Viehdorfer to take it to the next level. “We are shifting the program from the 2D computer screen to 3D Virtual Reality Goggles,” she says. “The students will wear the goggles and see the parts of the dog in three dimensions like in real life. They will then use their hands to virtually touch the objects, move them around to look at the structures and learn about them, then put the dog back together in 3D.”

The project was coordinated by Jon Dorbolo and Kimmy Hescock in Technology Across the Curriculum (TAC), a division of OSU dedicated to providing instructors with the latest technology. TAC also covered part of the costs of the project.


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