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Project Lead:

Susan Enright, MSc, BSc, BA (susan.enright@mtu.ie)

Project Status

In Progress

Project Lead Home Department:

MTU Kerry - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics - Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Alignment to HEA and NFETLHE SATLE 2022-23 Themes

  • Education for Sustainable Development (ESD);
  • Digital Transformation in the Tertiary Sector;

Alignment to MTU Strategy Themes

  • Learner Education & Experience;
  • People & Community;
  • Leading Regional Development;

Project Description

To investigate the use of Virtual reality (VR), to simulate valuable student experiences, and to develop resources that complement student learning, ensuring all learners are catered for, by fostering and embedding the principles of UDL.

This feasibility pilot of the application of VR in pharmacy education follows a co-design process. Student representatives from each stage and graduates of the programme, have been recruited and will be actively involved in the design, refinement and testing of the digital intervention, following a student-centred approach.  Academic staff members will work closely with students to understand the contextual determinants affecting their engagement with the application of VR technologies and the sustainability of the teaching and learning strategies.  This study will partner with the current HCI funded engineering project (REEDi) to support the translation of evidence supporting VR as a teaching and learning method, building on the knowledge generated from their engineering program and applying and expanding on the concept within another discipline.  The suitability of this application as a multimodal teaching tool to cater for different learners (kinaesthetic, visual, auditory), digital literacy skills and student capability, will be examined.

The project will consist of developing one VR 360-degree video of a lab which forms part of the Regulations & Dispensing 1 (DRGS61001) module. This lab will centre around dispensing of a one-item prescription in a community pharmacy setting.  Immersive technology experts within the School of STEM will record and create the content using a 360 scanner.  Students will be able to walk through and interact with this model using RiVR kits, the 3D model will be supplemented with legal and clinical information which students will require to safely dispense and continue their education and application of knowledge in a simulated environment.

The information will be displayed for the students to engage with in a variety of ways within the VR programme. This will include the immersive experience, videos, information presented using various interactive methods which can be read, watched or listened to, all the while ensuring that students must engage actively to navigate the lesson. The VR lesson will be designed taking into consideration teaching theories such as the cognitive load theory and strategies such as chunking and retrieval practice to mitigate against cognitive overload (Sweller et al., 2019).  For example, students will be exposed to information in bite-size chunks followed by an integrated formative assessment question, ensuring students get an opportunity to process their learning as they proceed. This project will complement existing assessments and support an equitable, inclusive learning environment.


Sweller, J., van Merriënboer, J. J., & Paas, F. 2019. Cognitive architecture and instructional design: 20 years later. Educational Psychology Review, 31(2), 261–292.

What is the anticipated impact of this project?

Production of a 360-degree simulation will allow students to experience pharmacy practice in a real-life working dispensary.  For the pilot, 30 first-year students will experience a community pharmacy dispensary, which may be their first exposure to their future workplace.  The filming in a busy dispensary will be key to students feeling fully immersed in the environment.  Students will witness all the steps required to dispense a prescription including labelling, performing a self-check and presenting it to the pharmacist for checking. Through the simulation, students will be engaged in an active learning strategy to support their dispensing practice.  VR will allow active learning and engagement with several touch points allowing students to click on links to relevant dispensing legislation, medicines information and conventions in pharmacy practice.  It is envisaged that student groups would access the VR video prior to attendance at their dispensing practical and that this would augment and cement their learning experience, incorporating the kinaesthetic, visual, and auditory modes of learning. 

VR enables students to experience prescription-only products associated with a regulated environment.  In a simulated and supported environment learners can make mistakes, learn from them and grow in confidence through the TFLAW (try-fail-learn-adapt-win) approach.

What will the outputs of this project be?

  • Translation and application of VR teaching methods from engineering to pharmacy education.  Creation of tailored content that can be used as a standard and replicated across disciplines to support behaviour change and progression of teaching and learning strategies.
  • Co-designed VR dispensing lab, incorporating multiple means of representation and multimodal teaching and assessment strategies will be shared with undergraduate pharmacy technician students and be further developed and expanded following feedback and further funding opportunities.
  • Qualitative and quantitative feedback from up to 30 first year students who pilot the content for acceptability and appropriateness will be documented and written up as a manuscript for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. 
  • Generation of evidence to be disseminated locally, nationally and internationally. Findings from the intervention design with academics in both MTU campuses will be shared.  Following ethical approval, quantitative and qualitative feedback will be collected from student participants in relation to the design and experience of engaging with the VR learning strategy and shared at Pharmacy Education Conferences, both in Ireland and the UK.
  • Interdisciplinary and cross campus collaboration, development of expert partnerships. Results to be shared with Teaching and Learning units on both campuses to promote future engagement with funding and education innovation.

Team Members:

  • Susan Enright, BSc, BA, MSc, Department of Biological and Pharmaceutical Science, MTU, Kerry Campus.  Staff Team Member, Class Tutor, Lecturer Pharmacy Technician programme, MTU, Kerry.
  • Clara H. Heinrich, BPharm, MPharm, MPSI, Department of Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, MTU, Kerry Campus.  Staff Team member, Pharmacist, Lecturer Pharmacy Technician Programme. 
  • Claire Kelly, MPharm, MPSI Department of Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, MTU, Kerry Campus. Staff Team Member, Pharmacist, Lecturer Pharmacy Technician Programme.
  • Dr. Eilish Broderick, BSc Ed, MSc, Head of School of STEM, MTU, Kerry Campus.  Support Team Member and Strategic Lead - Implementation of Immersive Technologies within the School of STEM undergraduate programmes.
  • Dr Gerard Corkery BAgrSc, Head of Department, Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, MTU, Kerry Campus.  Support Team Member.
  • Dr Fiona Boyle BSc, MSc, Head of Department of REEdI - Rethinking Engineering Education in Ireland MTU, Kerry Campus.  Support and provision of VR equipment.
  • Dr Eileen O’Leary, BSc, MA, Lecturer in Chemistry, Department of Physical Sciences, MTU, Cork. Member of Teaching and Learning Unit, Engaged in Staff Development and Active Learning.  Support and external consultant. 
  • Elizabeth Moore, MTU Pharmacy Technician Graduate, Leahy’s Pharmacy, Tralee, Feedback Provider and Implementation Consultant.
  • Lorraine Lyne, MTU Pharmacy Technician Graduate, Leahy’s Pharmacy, Tralee, Feedback Provider and Implementation Consultant.
  • Mr. David Hobbert, Chief Pharmacist, University Hospital Kerry.
  • Amy O Connell, First Year, Student Partner, Focus Group Member and Feedback Provider
  • Regina O Connor, First Year, Student Partner, Focus Group Member and Feedback Provider
  • Emma Ducey, Second Year, Student Partner, Focus Group Member and Feedback Provider
  • Michelle Lynch, Second Year, Student Partner, Focus Group Member and Feedback Provider
  • Anne Linnane, Third Year, Student Partner, Focus Group Member and Feedback Provider
  • Laura Manning, Third Year, Student Partner, Focus Group Member and Feedback Provider

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