Congenital Heart Disease E-Learning Course

Enhancing Medical Education During and Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic with an Interactive e-Learning Course


Dr. S. Moodley

UBC Faculty of Medicine

The Digital Lab

Type of work

Digital Learning
3D Printing
Medical Illustration

Addressing Challenges in Anatomy Education

While cadavers are the gold standard for anatomical education as they provide a 3D understanding of the body, financial limitations and ethical considerations along with the public health restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic have required alternative forms of education are created. To address this challenge, the Digital Lab, cardiologists, medical students, and instructional designers came together to develop an e-Learning course to attempt to continue to provide necessary education on congenital heart disease (CHD). It was important that this education was not only effective and accessible remotely, but that it allowed students to visualize the depth of the human body in a manner that replicated studying a cadaver.

Research & Design

Developing and Evaluating an e-Learning Course

The Digital Lab worked with cardiologists in order to develop both 3D printed and interactive virtual models that accompanied cadaveric specimens, animations and graphics in an e-Learning course. The course combined this digital media with educational videos and text to ensure students could engage with a variety of educational content to personalize their learning experience. 

The course was composed of eleven learning modules reviewing six cases of CHD. The course material was designed to help students understand the diagnostic process for each of the conditions along with interpretation of medical sans. To ensure that the students met the learning objectives of each module and to confirm this method of education was viable students were required to complete quizzes based on peer-reviewed anatomical tests.

Following the launch, the course was evaluated based on feedback from 290 first-year undergraduate medical students who provided feedback with an online survey. The students' quiz scores, attitudes, experiences, completion times, qualitative feedback and website data were all examined when evaluating the course.

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A High-Quality Educational Tool for Medical Students

This e-Learning course, which integrated both printed and interactive 3D models, was useful for the instruction of medical students without access to cadavers. Results from the study include:

  • 44.6% knowledge improvement between pre- and post-tests
  • 88.3% of students felt highly motivated to learn the course
  • 94.3% of students indicated that the course provided instruction or training that matched their experience
  • 97.5% of students indicated that the course met their needs

While this study that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic is promising, future studies should assess long-term knowledge retention, compare e-Learning to in-person instruction with cadavers and explore the effectiveness of interactions between students and mentors to reduce feelings of isolation.