A Virtual Reality Approach in Learning about Doping

Lisa Kalina
July 21, 2021

New Erasmus+ project "Virtual Reality Approach to Anti-Doping Learning" (VIRAL) aims to improve anti-doping education in a groundbreaking way.

As the COVID -19 pandemic has spread around the world, concepts such as social distancing are being put into practice in education as well as in our daily life. This has created many new challenges for education, especially in sport related issues. The pandemic situation has made apparent the need for the transformation of education from traditional to digital. Policy makers in the sport sector will be forced to adopt social distancing measures in the provision of education, hence replacing face to face teaching in traditional classrooms will become more important. Sport organizations will use new technologies to transfer their traditional teaching practices to virtual ones and develop appropriate pedagogical approaches. In order to do this it is necessary to embed digital technologies in ways that support deep and meaningful learning and build multifunctional online environments.

This is the vision of the VIRAL project. VIRAL project aims to promote innovative and impactful anti-doping education through a virtual reality game targeting competitive and recreational athletes. New technologies can greatly increase the acceptance and impact of anti-doping education among a variety of target groups. Through the development of a Virtual Reality program, VIRAL project recognizes the need to move forward and improve the way anti-doping education is developed, delivered, and assessed. The project seeks to produce a novel and impactful anti-doping educational intervention by combining:

a) updated research from the social and behavioral sciences on doping usage
b) state-of-the-art learning pedagogies
c) cutting-edge virtual reality game design and technology.

Such an approach allows building an innovative anti-doping training resource that will be appealing to young athletes and trainers. Using existing evidence of anti-doping, VIRAL project will

a) utilize cutting-edge behavioral science research on the risk and protective factors against doping use in amateur and grassroots sports to inform the development of an anti-doping virtual reality program
b) use the 'Open Innovation' framework to code-sign anti-doping virtual reality programs through active collaboration among anti-doping experts, VR designers and young athletes in amateur and grassroots sports
c) promote a more positive mentality about drug-free and health-enhancing physical activity and sports.

ENSE is thrilled to be part of the project together with its coordinator, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, as well as Sheffield Hallam University (UK), University of Leipzig (Germany), Aalborg University and the Southern Denmark University (both Denmark).

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