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The Virtual eLearning Tool (VeT) Courseware

Teacher: Dr. Florence Tang

Department: School of Biomedical Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)


Anatomy is considered the cornerstone of health professions education. Students are required to acquire basic knowledge of the body systems and complete the practicums to understand the relationship between functions and structures for the pathogenesis of diseases. However, the paucity of cadavers has long been a challenge for experiential anatomy learning. Given this, Dr. Florence Tang, Lecturer of the School of Biomedical Sciences at CUHK, has developed courseware combining Augmented Reality (AR) and 3D Printing technologies entitled Virtual eLearning Tool (VeT). The initiative aims to provide students with innovative experiences when studying human organs.

Through the VeT, multimedia materials are utilized to retain students’ attention in or after class. Students can use a tablet or iPad to access the 3D-printed kidney model and learn from the AR digitalised context. Dr. Tang emphasised, “Virtual technologies make teaching and learning more flexible. AR and 3D printing technologies allow students to do self-revision anytime and anywhere.” For instance, students can borrow the 3D kidney model or download the AR-tag to access the virtual kidney model outside the classroom.

Dr. Tang has encountered several challenges when developing the courseware, for example, the limitation of the 3D printing technologies. “We have considered printing the 3D heart model previously, but the organ structure is too complicated for the scanning issue and the output of the model is not of satisfactory quality,” said Dr. Tang. Besides of technical support barrier, she also pointed out that there is a sustainability barrier to virtual teaching strategy development. With the rapid growth of digital technologies exponentially, she noted that some of the existing courseware is obsolete as the software or platform used has been discontinued, rendering the product inaccessible.

Despite the challenges faced, Dr. Tang believed that it is important to implement diverse digital teaching strategies, such as gamified elements, flipped classrooms and micro-modules, to stimulate and boost up students' motivation with the increase of cognitive abilities in learning. “Teachers should figure out and shape which type of strategies benefits their course to uphold the quality of education, as a single pedagogical approach may not be suitable for every curriculum regarding student’s learning style and progress,” Dr. Tang suggested.

When asked about the future development plan of the initiative, Dr. Tang disclosed that she is currently creating a 3D animation for the virtual learning environment, which will be integrated into the initiative to make classes more captivating for students engaging in experiential learning of anatomy.


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