SAGE Publishing and Bodyswaps launch virtual reality resource for health and social care training

VR experience demonstrates benefits of immersive learning for soft skills training in higher education.

SAGE Publishing announced its partnership with Bodyswaps, an award-winning virtual reality (VR) platform, to launch a cutting-edge resource for health and social care training. The Mental Health Practitioner VR experience supports students in developing soft skills through an immersive virtual environment, representing a first step into a new generation of learning.   

Covid-19 has increased interest in using immersive technology in course programming, especially for so-called “soft skills.’ The Mental Health Practitioner experience builds on SAGE’s extensive publishing program in the fields of nursing, medicine, and health, tapping the potential of virtual and augmented reality to improve learning outcomes and support deep learning. 

SAGE and Bodyswaps have been collaborating since 2019 to explore the use of VR for soft skills training in higher education. Following conversations with nursing educators, they identified a clear gap in communication skills training for acute mental health situations. This prompted SAGE and Bodyswaps to co-develop a 10-minute VR experience that offers students the chance to practice active listening and empathic communication skills in a safe virtual environment before seeing real patients.   

“At SAGE Publishing, we are excited about new pedagogical practices in visual media, and virtual reality certainly offers opportunities to explore learning in new ways,” said Michael Carmichael, Director, Visual Media at SAGE. “In Bodyswaps, we’ve found a kindred spirit and a perfect partner to co-publish The Mental Health Practitioner experience and learn more about the power of immersive technology in support of educators and students.”  

Using Bodyswaps’ distinctive learning approach, students interact with a virtual patient in their own words before swapping places with the patient to observe the interaction from their perspective. The students receive feedback – powered by artificial intelligence -- on indicators such as eye contact, body language, and whether key elements of the patient’s story had been covered. Feedback from pilot universities has been positive.  

“We believe that the only way to build learning experiences that are relevant, meaningful and enjoyable is for technologists and educators to work together,” said Christophe Mallet, Bodyswaps CEO and co-founder “This is precisely the spirit of our partnership with SAGE Publishing: co-creating the best future for education with immersive technologies.” 

The experience is available for Windows PC, mobile, and all major standalone VR headsets.  

Visit the Bodyswaps website to learn more and watch a video of the VR experience.