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Enhancing the Curriculum in Medicine, Veterinary and Life Sciences Using Emerging Technologies

The acquisition and reinforcement of foundational anatomy knowledge is a fundamental aspect of the curriculum of future professionals in healthcare education, biomedical communication and dissemination. Higher education institutions involved in medical, life sciences and veterinary training have endeavoured to implement motivating and engaging learning environments and these can include prosecution and dissections of cadaveric material. Facilitating such learning environments can be often limited by legislation and economic challenges which can be challenging for some universities. Although the proposed environments usually support self-directed and collaborative learning, they can be cognitively challenging for students due to the limited access to physical resources in facilities (e.g. cadavers in an anatomy laboratory). The challenges of adopting a blended learning approach with traditional teaching can become discouraging for the appreciation of spatial relationships between anatomical structures and the understanding of variability. Consequently, alternative pathways towards sustainable and innovative learning and teaching in medical, life sciences and related veterinary education need to be explored.

Emerging technologies such as Extended Reality offer opportunities for the disruptive transformation of the current learning and teaching in higher education, in favour of a more user-centric approach based on a self-paced and constraint-free discovery paradigm. Extended Reality includes representative forms such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Virtual Reality defines a technological framework which gathers visualisation and interaction interfaces and empowers a user to be physically immersed and psychologically involved in an interactive computer-generated environment. Augmented Reality consists of the overlay of digital models onto the real world, being either marker-based, when an image is used to trigger digital models, or marker-less when users decide the location of digital models in the real world. Augmented Reality can be achieved using either mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets, or cutting-edge see-through headsets like Microsoft HoloLens or Magic Leap.

Previous studies have highlighted the impact of Virtual and Augmented Reality on learning and teaching in medical, life sciences and veterinary education, suggesting it promotes a higher degree of understanding and critical thinking, thus fostering deeper cognitive involvement. Virtual and Augmented Reality support enhanced interactions with digitally reconstructed anatomical models, offering opportunity for providing additional sensory feedback as a result of these interactions. Interaction outcomes can result simply in the provision of additional visual and audio feedback for further cognitive engagement or can be provided in a more intrinsic form using haptic devices to simulate the tactile and kinaesthetic sensations experienced in the real world, allowing improved motor skills that are required in complex biomedical procedures.

This is a short preview of the article written by Matthieu Poyade, Daniel Livingstone & Paul M. Rea featured in The University-Industry Innovation Magazine (UIIM) issue July 2019.

  • Matthieu Poyade is the Pathway Leader of the MSc Medical Visualisation and Human Anatomy at SimVis.
  • Daniel Livingstone is the Programme Leader for a number of visualisation degrees offered by SimVis, including the MSc in Medical Visualisation and Human Anatomy.
  • Paul M. Rea is the Programme Director at the University of Glasgow’s
    Anatomy Facility.

University-Industry Innovation Magazine | Universities & Emerging Technologies | Issue July 2019 focusses on the implications of the emerging technologies on universities.

UIIM showcases interesting stories from different international stakeholders on their activities and endeavours in university-industry interaction. For more information and to download your copy of the University-Industry Innovation Magazine visit our website

UIIN Members receive a free copy of the UIIN Magazine.

Photo credit: MSc in Medical Visualization and Human Anatomy

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