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Adapting a Haptic Motor-Skill Simulator to Include 3D Histology and Supporting Information Architecture (IA)

Nova Hayes, Karen Bucher, Seema Ashrafi, Leah Lebowicz


In response to an ever-increasing demand for more efficient medical and dental training, simulator-based education has seen a marked increase in development and adoption. But technological advances do not necessarily add up to better learning outcomes. This pursuit has even generated criticism that the means often lose sight of the end. We are presented with an increasingly relevant challenge to adapt simulator technology in alignment with systems advancements and research in adult learning.

To address this question, an existing haptic-based, periodontal-probing simulator was revised with expanded learning goals in mind. The former technology was used, but furnished with new 3D models and a multimodal approach to the curriculum intended to foster contextual learning.

The 3D model was detailed with clinically-relevant histology intended to build a holistic conceptual understanding of the oral tissue and disease etiology of gingivitis and periodontitis in context with the procedure. Yet providing visual detail without direction is inadequate for ensuring learning objectives are met. Furthermore, simplified models are needed in a haptic system to maintain uninterrupted simulator performance; this means a loss of visual detail and material realism. To meet these challenges, the information architecture (IA) was designed to include tiered activities including dynamic exploration with a high-fidelity model, performance evaluation for self-assessment, and knowledge check for learning reinforcement.

The 3D models and proposed methodology in this research are intended to exhibit how, with proper integration, these attributes can convert a single-objective, motor skill exercise into a complete learning experience.

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