The V.I.B.E. project’s first Learning, Teaching and Training Activity (LTTA) took place in Pécs, simultaneously with the International Conference of Biomedical Engineering and Innovation (iCBEI) conference between the 24th and 28th of October, 2022. The LTTA event had two main goals: (1) showing the participants how to use the latest virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) techniques, and (2) stimulating the conversation between experts of different fields, teachers, students, and laypeople about the potential use of VR and AR.

To achieve our first goal, we organized several workshops to let people have hands-on experiences with VR and AR. A workshop titled “Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) in biomedical and STEM/STEAM education” was organized on the 24th of October. This workshop had two sections. In the first section, oral presentations as well as demonstrations were held to explain the basics of developing VR environments and to show the advantages of using VR and AR in the classroom. András Szőke (3D Printing and Visualisation Centre, University of Pécs) introduced the participants to the basic mechanisms of designing VR environments and showed how to use the latest technologies to maximize the benefits. Balázs Tukora (Department of Technical, University of Pécs) held a presentation in VR and showed the advantages of using VR in the classroom (e.g., by demonstrating the benefits of visualizations in 3D instead of 2D). A special emphasize was put on the teaching of STEM subjects. Finally, Prof. Ewaryst Tkacz (Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, Silesian University of Technology) held a presentation about various VR and AR technologies that can be used for both education and science. There was a special focus on technologies relevant for medical education and sciences.

In the second section of the workshop, participants had the chance to get a hands-on experience with VR. This section was led by Péter Hillebrand (3D Printing and Visualisation Centre, University of Pécs), who described the equipment and assisted the participants while they were using the equipment. Participants were allowed to test a VR-based surgical simulator program that was designed for medical students to practice surgical skills (e.g., laparoscopy).

Another event was organized on the 27th of October, which included the demonstration of VR and AR devices. Invited experts showed how to use AR to teach anatomy and how to use special VR platforms for all kinds of teaching. This event was broadcast via Teams to reach a wider audience. University staff from various faculties were invited to join the event online and see the benefits of VR and AR. Based on informal conversations, this event was highly appreciated by the audience.

Moreover, in collaboration with the iCBEI conference, students from all over the world were invited to present their VR and AR-related research or other work. Between the 24th and 26th of October, poster presentations as well as oral presentations were held. These presentations covered various VR and AR-related topics (e.g., biomedical engineering, medicine, psychology etc.).

The second main goal of this event was to stimulate the conversation between experts of different fields, teachers, students, and laypeople about the potential use of VR and AR. All the events described above included plenty of opportunities for discussion. For example, each presentation was followed by Q&A sessions and the demonstrations and workshops were interactive in nature. The most important and successful event, however, was the roundtable debate we arranged on the 27th of October. The aim of this debate was to discuss the question “Should we use VR and AR in education?”. To make sure that all relevant aspects of this issue were covered, we invited six experts from different fields to join the debate and share their opinion. The invited experts were:

  • Ferenc Böröczky (founder, Anet360)
  • József Farkas, PhD, M.D. (anatomist, Medical School, University of Pécs)
  • András Járó (country sales manager, General Automotive Hungary)
  • Beáta Laki, PhD (philosopher, Medical School, University of Pécs)
  • Anna Sudár (lead business analyst, MaxxWhere)
  • András Zsidó, PhD (psychologist, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pécs)

The roundtable discussion was also broadcast via Teams to reach as many teachers, students and laypeople as possible. Online participants were allowed to join the conversation and ask questions.