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Implementation of tablets in the gross anatomy laboratory: Experiences and student attitudes at one year
Lower Lobby
Implementation of tablets in the gross anatomy laboratory: Experiences and student attitudes at one year
Stanford University
Problem Statement Anatomy education is evolving to better prepare medical students for 21st-century medical practice. Instruction increasingly occurs as an integrated curriculum, emphasizing the connections... Read more

Description

Problem Statement 
Anatomy education is evolving to better prepare medical students for 21st-century medical practice. Instruction increasingly occurs as an integrated curriculum, emphasizing the connections between anatomy, physiology, disease, and management. Educational technology has been explored to overcome barriers in this curricular transition and to provide new learning opportunities. Mobile devices represent the latest frontier in this effort. However, understanding of how best to integrate tablets in the gross anatomy laboratory, along with supporting hardware and software, remains poor. Further, learners’ experiences, attitudes, and use cases for tablets in support of their learning have not been comprehensively evaluated.

Approach
We completed pilot testing followed by full-scale implementation of tablets in the gross anatomy laboratory, and aimed to evaluate students’ use of and attitudes toward this technology. An eight-week pilot assessed feasibility of Apple iPad use and identified facilitators and barriers to their use. Based on supportive results, iPads were integrated throughout the lab for first-year students. A survey was administered to learners one year after implementation.

Lessons Learned
Learners almost universally agreed that iPads were beneficial to their education (98% of respondents) and identified it as the best resource for appreciating 3D orientation of structures and answering questions. The dynamic, interactive, and immersive nature of touchscreen apps is well suited for image-based tasks, especially with the unique ability to directly manipulate 3D models. iPads also enabled novel learning opportunities, including real-time clinical correlation learning, ad-hoc quizzing, and use of photo and video documentation for self-review and peer teaching. The most significant barrier to effective use of tablets was student training in the provided apps.
Hardware and software choices significantly impact user experience. Rugged, waterproof cases successfully prevented device damage from falls and exposure to fluids. Screen mirroring to large, ceiling-mounted displays afforded the benefits of mobility and touch-based content manipulation of tablets in concert with easier sharing of content among multiple learners. Apps for anatomy education vary substantially in image quality, information completeness, and functionality; in our experience, Netter’s Atlas of Anatomy and Visible Body 3D were exemplars in all three domains.

Significance
Tablets provide unique benefits to gross anatomy laboratory education, performing better than traditional resources on certain tasks, and create novel learning opportunities in the lab to integrate anatomic, basic science, and clinical knowledge in real-time. Our experience also demonstrates how technology can make the anatomy educational experience more collaborative, personalized, and empowering. Additional study is necessary to evaluate the impact of tablets on educational outcomes.

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