Plymouth University team develops immersive training to help fight Ebola
A screen shot from the Masanga Mentor Ebola Initiative's immersive training programme

Medical education experts at Plymouth University have joined forces with an African charity and a UK technology firm to develop immersive 3D educational technology aimed at preventing and controlling the spread of Ebola.

The technology, developed in partnership with the Masanga Mentor Ebola Initiative and Immerse Learning, uses both 2D and 3D simulation to teach local health carers and members of the public how to care for sick members of their families, how to clean up and disinfect, and how to protect themselves, their families and their communities. It is currently being trialled in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry is contributing to the project because it is at the forefront of the development of immersive learning techniques to train the doctors and dentists of the future. It also has a long-standing relationship with the hospital at Masanga – a number of medical students have taken the elective element of their studies there.

Immersive learning allows learners to be totally 'immersed' in a self-contained artificial or simulated environment while experiencing it as real. Users tend to be very engaged because immersive environments are visual and interactive

Dr Tom Gale, Clinical Associate Professor in Clinical Skills at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry said: 

“We are delighted to be working with such a diverse and knowledge-rich partnership to make a real difference in the fight against Ebola. We have used the latest thinking in clinical education to create a resource which communicates the necessary messages without the need for long presentations. Immersive learning and simulation are instrumental platforms for educating our own trainee doctors, and the methods we use translate well to the situation in West Africa.”

The team from Plymouth University will evaluate the training method at sites in West Africa and in the UK. The findings from the first pilot will be used to develop the technique further, in advance of a roll out across affected communities in Africa.