I have been at a few meetings recently where the use of technology has been discussed and I think it poses a few interesting questions.
Does technology help us? Does it enhance our engagement and does it enhance our education system (I do not believe those are the same question.)
I have resisted the need to have a voice controlled device in my house. I am perfectly able to walk across the room and turn the light switch on myself and I can pick my own play list – in fact last week I was listening to vinyl so even had to get up to turn it over.
I think you would have to be a dyed in the wool luddite to argue that technology hasn’t helped us in some ways – the off shoots, maybe not so much.
Has it helped with our engagement, and from my point of view, anatomy engagement? I use the curioscope virtuali-tee to talk to people about their organs. There is no denying that this is a magic bit of kit and this week it took a big step forwards. Through some fancy technology, the t shirt can now show your actual heart beat! You can put on the shirt and see your resting heart beat, run around the block and see the increase. I can’t wait to show this to a class room of kids. It blows their mind when they see the organs anyway, to see it actually responding to what they do is going to be great!
Does this technology help medical students learn? You would think so wouldn’t you and yet there don’t seem to be too many studies looking in to the effect it has on grades – it’s a bit too early to tell and cash strapped Universities don’t want to invest heavily without any proof that it is beneficial to the students.
This week I got to try out a virtual reality anatomy teaching tool.
It was an unusual experience. A group of 6 of us standing in a room wearing headsets looking at anatomical models that were not there. You could push your face in towards the model and look at what was inside the chest. You could look down through the layers of someones abdominal wall and see the layers of muscles. Did it help me understand it any better than models and books – not sure.
The week before I saw a demo of another virtual reality set up from an Australian University. They had one head set, and a corner of their room was cordoned off and had a crash mat on the floor. In this set up you entered a virtual lab where shelves were full of models. You could take a virtual model and place it on a virtual podium which then blew it up to massive proportions inside the virtual room. Then you could walk inside! This way you could end up standing inside someones skull looking at the blood vessels. You could see how they all fitted together, you could understand the flow of the blood. For something like neuro I could totally see that this would be a valuable learning tool but again, one headset, hard to produce any evidence it does effect grades.
Does technology always have to be computers? I suppose it does now but I think there have also been advances with ancient technologies.
We have run several successful workshops on modelling facial muscles with wax. Its not really a technology nowadays but I’m sure at some point, back in the day, it would have been thought of as ground breaking.
There has been some interesting developments in the UK using plasticine to model muscles in the throat. Its not quite the wow factor of VR but its a lot cheaper to try out. it would be an interesting little project to see which enhances learning more – the lump of clay or the VR head set?