A comprehensive understanding of anatomy is essential for pursuing a career in medicine. Over the years, numerous techniques have been employed by educators to impart knowledge on this complex subject, ranging from traditional stereoscopic atlases to modern-day virtual reality technology. DPAG’s anatomy teaching team has adopted a multifaceted approach that leverages conventional methods and digital tools to facilitate learning.
Virtual reality technology has proved to be an effective teaching aid for teaching. It enables students to visualise the anatomical structures layer by layer, thereby allowing them to clarify any misconceptions they may have. Additionally, the virtual reality software 3D Organon includes quizzes requiring students to identify the correct anatomical structure within the 3D model instead of selecting from a predefined list of options.
On Thursday 22 June 2023, Clinical Anatomist Sharmila Saran Rajendran, who oversees the programme of anatomy teaching for pre-clinical medical students, was awarded best poster at the CTL 2023 Teaching and Learning Symposium where she presented her work on ‘Digital Tools for Facilitating Anatomy Learning’. In her poster, Sharmila discussed how anatomy education is evolving by integrating digital tools with traditional teaching methods.
Earlier in the academic year, Sharmila, together with her colleague anatomy teaching prosector Samuel Snowdon, conducted testing of the 3D Organon VR application with a group of 27 third year medical students. In her poster, she shared the evaluation results of this preliminary analysis, which included favourable responses from the students. Feedback included:
“It helps with proper visualisation that can only be compared to the DR sessions. It also helps clear misconceptions from simply reading the anatomy in 2D.”
“It helps to see where everything is in relation to everything else. Also, it is nice to quickly identify everything using the software.”
“In particular, I have a much better understanding of movements and how different muscle contractions cause different movements.”
A snapshot of the 3D Organon application
Additionally, Sharmila highlighted several useful tools in her poster. These included 3D4 Medical Anatomy, which offers a host of interactive features, Clinical Key Student, which provides access to a broad range of medical textbooks, embryology animation videos, and inbuilt questions for students, Vevox, where educators can post interactive quizzes during lectures or virtual learning sessions, and the H5P application, which generates interactive e-learning materials such as flashcards, quizzes, and puzzles. Furthermore, she outlined her contribution to creating 3D-printed models for students to explore and interact with anatomical structures, thereby deepening their understanding of the subject.
The award follows a virtual reality demonstration by Sharmila at the University of Oxford’s Teaching and learning technology showcase on 19 April 2023, where she provided hands-on interactions with some of these tools. Senior Teaching Technician Barbara Kirby assisted with the showcase, and VR headsets were provided by Digital Innovation Manager Nandy Milan and CTL Digital Education Advisor Xavier Laurent.