Exploring a Multimodal E-Learning Course for Teaching Medical Students Anatomy

We explored the impact of an e-learning course that uses virtual 3D-models to teach medical students about congenital heart disease (CHD), a birth defect impacting 1% of live births.


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Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect, impacting 1 of every 100 births. It’s important for medical students to learn how to identify CHD, and to compare a healthy heart to one with CHD. To provide remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, we built an online course showcasing patient-specific 3D models, so students could get an in-depth understanding of the heart. We also made sure our course suited different learning styles, and featured several teaching tools to support students. We collaborated with professors from the UBC Faculty of Medicine to evaluate our e-learning course in the MED411 Cardiac Murmurs session – which 200-300 students participate in every year.

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To see if the course improved learning outcomes, we asked students to take a test before and after using the course. After the course, we asked each student several questions about how much they liked the course and how motivated they were to use it in their studies.

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Our study showed that our course was able to improve learning. Students enjoyed their experiences and were motivated by the materials. Our research shows that e-learning courses using 3D-modelling to teach anatomy are helpful and desired by undergraduate medical students.

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Students’ knowledge improved by almost 45% after completing the course, and 93.5% reported having a good experience with the course. Almost 92% reported the course was detailed enough to gain a strong understanding of the heart and CHD. This suggests the course was widely enjoyed, useful, and effective as a teaching tool. This is valuable for medical students’ education, suggesting virtual approaches like our course can make learning more accessible for them.

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