Edmonton-based University of Alberta offers undergraduate and graduate programs covering a wide array of subjects, including healthcare sciences. Teaching their technologically-savvy students complex subjects such as anatomy and molecular biology with textbooks has increasingly challenged their professors. “For many students, cell behavior and interactions is difficult to grasp with only two-dimensional illustrations,” says Dr. Paul LaPointe, an Associate Professor in the Department of Cell Biology.
In search of a solution, the university’s Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory launched the Cognitive Projections initiative to explore new ways of teaching health sciences through augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Working with Dr. LaPointe as their content matter expert, the Cognitive Projections team developed the Cell 101 VR app and used Google Cardboard to share the content with students.
“We decided on Google Cardboard because it was cheap to supply to large classes,” notes Lucie Eliasova, the 3D artist for the Cognitive Projections initiative. “But also because it’s more affordable to run on students existing smartphones than the more expensive computing hardware that premium solutions require,” she adds.