The University of Newcastle, Australia

New looks at challenges through fresh eyes. That’s especially true for midwife Dr Donovan Jones and his team, Shanna Fealy and Associate Professor Rohan Walker. With the assistance of Craig Williams of the IT Innovation team they seek to bring Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality to the age-old experience of childbirth—and through these technologies, teach future midwives to save newborn lives.

The researchers and innovation team partner closely with the faculty and students to create immersive learning opportunities. They design experiences that maximise the students’ abilities to explore and learn in a safe setting.

By working closely with academics, we rapidly develop concepts that address students’ needs for classroom use,” says Craig Williams, the Innovation Manager for the IT team.

For instance, the Road to Birth program gives students the chance to explore both a life-size simulation of the mother and her infant through all stages of pregnancy. With VR, the students are able to see and understand the physical changes to the mother’s internal organs as the baby grows. Midwifery students at both the Newcastle and Port Macquarie campuses have the opportunity to use this pioneering technology firsthand.

The Compromised Neonate program is a first-of-its-kind VR experience that simulates saving at-risk newborn babies. Students can build confidence in critical life-saving skills in a safe teaching environment.

The impact is the ability to provide immersive, accessible, repeatable education necessary for students to be prepared to meet the real life demands of unpredictable clinical environments,” says Shanna Fealy, the Midwifery Coordinator and Lecturer for the Bachelor of Midwifery Program at the Port Macquarie Campus.

Students previously had access to theory, labs and placement. So the student may never experience the full neonatal resuscitation procedure until they are in the workplace. The application allows them to experience it, and repeatedly practice procedures in a fail-safe environment,” says Craig. “Ultimately, this technology is about helping save babies’ lives.”

The University of Newcastle is creating new ways of learning, and preparing our students to give infants the chance to thrive.

The impact is the ability to provide immersive, accessible, repeatable education necessary for students to be prepared to meet the real life demands of unpredictable clinical environments

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