The adoption of virtual reality for medical training in the context of South African higher education.
MetadataShow full item record
Virtual reality (VR) is progressively being acknowledged as a useful tool for medical training. The adoption of VR for medical training in developing countries is at a slow pace compared to developed countries. The paucity of innovative systems such as VR training systems and the lack of exposure to these systems in developing countries tend to widen the gap in competency between medical professionals from developed and developing countries. VR in South Africa is a new concept and, therefore, limited literature exists from a South African educational perspective. This study aimed to fill the gap in literature from a South African perspective by investigating the determinants of the adoption of VR for medical training at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) was used as the guiding framework to investigate the perceived usefulness of using VR, the perceived effort required to use it, and the social factors and facilitating conditions that can influence its adoption for medical training. The study further aimed to determine the challenges associated with the adoption of VR for medical training within the South African higher education context. Findings from interviews with 12 purposively sampled lecturers revealed that most respondents perceived that VR would be easy to use for medical training should the necessary training and support be provided. Some respondents had not previously experienced VR immersive environments and hence felt that using VR for medical training would be difficult. The researcher deduced from the responses that the respondents would be influenced to adopt VR for medical training by other medical professionals who were currently using VR and that the degree of influence would be an important factor in adoption. Although the respondents perceived VR to be useful, they voiced that the adoption of VR for medical training at South African educational institutions could be hampered by challenges associated with the lack of infrastructure, knowledge of VR, finance, resistance to change, user’s inability to differentiate simulated environments from the real-world and poor design of the VR system (interface). The respondents suggested a gradual approach to VR adoption, forming partnerships with VR companies and seeking sponsorships or donations from alumni to address the finance-related impediments. Furthermore, to ensure the successful adoption of VR for medical training by South African educational institutions, they mentioned the need for: government to address financial constraints by increasing the budget allocated to South African healthcare; an effective change management process to address resistance to change; a cost-benefit analysis; and, finally, training to surmount the challenges.