Better Learning With “Smart” VR Avatars

Led by Dr. Mihaela Popescu, a CSUSB team developed socially intelligent agents to simulate patients for kinesiology and nursing students in an immersive VR environment. The concept for the minigrant project originated during the onset of the pandemic to continue necessary experiential learning in health fields. The socially intelligent agents use machine learning to interact with students by presenting a health history and having natural conversations to simulate real patient interactions. On top of fulfilling an academic need, these agents closely resemble real patients and give students the chance to practice. Using Google Dialogue Flow with a customized API, agents respond organically to intake questions.

The team piloted the simulation with 37 students and received positive feedback. After the learning curve of navigating the virtual space, students commented that they saw this type of delivery to be the future of learning in their fields. Since successfully completing usability tests, the next steps will be to: 1) develop a tutorial to orient students into virtual reality; 2) perform beta tests in the classroom during the fall semester; and 3) apply for additional grants to help produce nine other modules for the training curriculum. Longer term goals for the project include scaling up to apply this technology to national certification courses in these fields.

Principal Investigators

Mihaela Popescu, CSU San Bernardino

Fadi Muheidat, CSU San Bernardino

James Trotter, CSU San Bernardino

Yutong Liu, CSU San Bernardino

Grant Cycle

2022

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