Emerging technology enhances learning at Davis Global Center

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Step inside the Davis Global Center, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by technology; from towering video walls to massive touchscreens and 3D imagery.



a group of people sitting in a bedroom: iEXCEL spaces within the Dr. Edwin G. & Dorothy Balbach Davis Global Center photographed on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.


© Kent Sievers
iEXCEL spaces within the Dr. Edwin G. & Dorothy Balbach Davis Global Center photographed on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.

The new advanced simulation facility on the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus seeks to give health care professionals a place to practice skills in a low-risk environment.

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The first floor provides particularly unique opportunities, with a focus on emerging technologies, including 3D, augmented and virtual reality and a holographic theater.

“We are literally only limited by our own imaginations on what we can do,” said Sharon Medcalf, an assistant professor in the College of Public Health.

Medcalf explained, they can train people for once in a lifetime events such as a mass casualty triage by using technology like the simulation cave.

“What I can do as a faculty member using the technology in this building is create that environment of an event, and then put that first responder in that immersive environment and test his or her critical thinking skills,” she said.

Medcalf also said staff are using the holographic theater to capture speakers and presentations and preserve them for future learners in lifelike form.

“We’re designing an activity that will be based around the hologram of an expert, that we have on campus today, that we may not have on campus that same person 5-10 years from now,” she said.

Getting the health care focused content to go with all this tech wasn’t so easy. The center hired its own team to create it, with employees coming from gaming, graphic design, web development and more.

“Twelve people. Each with different skill sets, not from medicine, who are working with our health care professionals, to create this, what I call magic,” said Dr. Pamela Boyers, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Clinical Simulation.

UNMC Chancellor Dr. Jeffrey Gold described his own experiences using technology like augmented and virtual reality. He participated in a simulation of flying an apache helicopter in a brownout in Afghanistan. Gold said those moments proved to him the value of these immersive experiences.

“So, whether it’s standing on the surface of a blood cell and watching oxygen move through the surface, whether it’s looking at a CAT scan or an MRI of a patient with a tumor and literally standing inside of the body, watching the resection the surgical procedure,” Gold said.

Technology also allows the Davis Global Center to connect its training with people across the state and the world. The facility has room to grow too. Gold said it has the bandwidth of a supercomputer.

With so much technology, Gold admits, many people wonder once the ribbon is cut on the facility, how can it possibly stay current in our ever-evolving world?

“We have agreements with all of these large companies and several others to say ‘Okay, we’ll take your best and your brightest, we’ll put it right in, right on the day that we open. But we want your commitment if we’re going to make that partnership with you that you’re going to keep the technology, right at the bleeding edge,'” Gold said, “There’s some risk to be at the bleeding edge, you know, sometimes it doesn’t work every time you try it, but we’re willing to accept those risks, and to stay right at the edge.”

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