We describe the design and trial of a remotely conducted surgical master class, using a haptic virtual environment as an integral part of the learning process. In the trial, we linked a haptic virtual environment in Canberra, Australia with a second installation at Stanford University, California. We were testing several haptic components of the system, and whether collaborative haptics could be useful in teaching surgery at a distance. We were also interested to see if an audience could be engaged in the instruction. The participants used features such as manipulating body organs, diathermy and clipping and cutting of ducts. The audience followed each student’s performance on a large 3D screen while waiting their turn at the interface. A key aim of the application was to produce a shared sense of presence in the virtual environment. The responses of the audience and participants in this regard were collected and results are presented.
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