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Reality lab gives NWTC students a taste of real-life experience


By Brynn Schintgen

Contributing Writer

GREEN BAY – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) launched their first Health Science Extended Reality (XR) Lab at the beginning of the fall 2023 semester.

The lab, which specializes in recreating real-life scenarios in virtual reality, uses the most advanced technology available and is one of the first of its kind in the nation.

Simulation Coordinator Mitch Lukers said that the lab “can create scenarios to test skills that may not be possible in a clinical setting.”

These scenarios may be emergency situations in which nurses must “act on the fly” or situations that are uncommon in real life, but are still important in knowing how to respond.

A $300,000 grant was awarded to NWTC to fund this program.

NWTC was among 10 other colleges in the nation to receive the award.

Currently, the lab only services the nursing program at NWTC.

“[The lab] will help recruit students who don’t learn the best in traditional classroom settings,” Luker said, adding that the program “focuses on hand on work rather than memorization.”

He stressed that the lab allows the students to have trial and error in a risk-free setting, and that the lab “is going to give a higher quality of education.

“[The lab] will hit all three learning styles at once — audio, visual, and kinesthetic — and will be used in classrooms, skill classes, and even clinical courses,” he added.

Through this program, students will have heard concepts twice before clinicals, and in turn will make them more confident, Lukers said.

“It allows us to do things we’ve never been able to do before. We can go through uncommon scenarios that are uncommon in real life,” he stated.

According to Lukers, 175 students have used the XR lab so far, and the data has been extremely positive.

“It’s not a cure all, but helps students to be more engaged. It’s very exciting that this technology is growing and changing rapidly,” Lukers explained.

Lukers said that he hopes that people will continue to watch and see how the lab grows and changes.

He emphasized how this XR technology will become more and more integrated into academia as the technology advances.

“I hope that people will look back and say, ‘How did we ever do this without this technology?’” he said.

Pass It Forward™ editorial is sponsored by Packers Give Back and Nicolet Bank.

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