‘Making the old, new’ - Development of digital teaching aids for use in anatomical teaching of historical clinical cases.

Declan McLaughlin*, Nicole McGarrigle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Anatomy has been a critical part of the curricula of medical and healthcare-related degrees for centuries; its teaching methods are constantly evolving, and debate continues over which is the most effective. Time devoted to anatomy teaching and dissection has decreased in recent years due to a variety of factors including shortage of cadavers and experienced educators, prompting a shift to alternate techniques such as problem-based learning. Online educational material online can allow students the chance to study at their own pace and could free up class time for discussion of topics rather than purely knowledge acquisition.

It is now recognised that a mixture of teaching methods, both traditional and modern, must be utilised in order for students to gain optimal benefit from anatomy classes. The installation of interactive whiteboards, or smartboards, or overhead projectors in dissection rooms can be used by groups of students to watch videos and animations, or to draw on or label still pictures of prosected specimens. More portable technology, such as iPads and tablets, can be used by students to perform these activities individually. Students seem to view these positively, as long as they are of good quality, follow a logical structure, and are supported with face-to-face learning opportunities with staff.
Furthermore, the use of potted pathological specimens displayed in anatomical museums, including examples of medical imaging and treatment options, can increase student learning. With current accessibility to technology, presenting this information to students has become easier.

Within our institution, there is access to historical clinical pathology potted specimens. These anatomical museum specimens are, generally, kept out of the classroom and used only on select occasion. Incorporation of these clinical cases into undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, through the use of digital posters (e-posters). Using module learning objectives as a guide, relevant clinical cases were sourced from the collection. These were used to ensure that students were obtaining relevant information from the poster and provided a basis for further expansion on topics covered in class. To further increase the relevancy of the poster to students, additional information on anatomy and relevant pathology was included, using traditional sources such as renowned anatomical textbooks.

This project aims to show how, with the use of modern technologies (Microsoft Sway, QR codes, 3D models), historic clinical cases can be given a ‘fresh look’, and engage the anatomical sciences student. Used in combination with the potted specimen, this novel approach to historical case studies, arms the learner with a potential bank of resources, which can be accessed off-site, and strengthen their learning of their subject.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted - Sep 2019
EventAssociation of Learning Technology (ALT) Annual Conference: Data, Dialogue, Doing - University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 03 Sep 201905 Sep 2019


ConferenceAssociation of Learning Technology (ALT) Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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