Background: In our institution, the BSc in Anatomy programme involves extensive hands-on human cadaveric dissection that is undertaken during Level 3 with about 60% of formal contact hours devoted to such lab practicals. With the pandemic, as the course coordinators, we had to identity alternative virtual methods to deliver this lab-based anatomy teaching and its associated skills. A lack of such teaching could limit our students’ prospective career choices and it was vital to ensure its effective delivery. Technology innovation and learning points: Since September 2020, we have been using a 3D real-time virtual anatomy atlas (Primal Pictures Anatomy.TV) coupled with cadaveric dissection videos (Wolters Kluwer Grant’s) to simulate lab-based teaching. We embedded the above resources in Moodle to promote an immersive learning experience through our Virtual Learning Environment. Anatomy.TV allows for interactive exploration of 3D models that, in turn, helps students learn the different anatomical structures and their interrelationships. However, Anatomy.TV has limited static real-life cadaveric images and the models are virtual animations lacking realistic colour and texture. The models also show ‘perfect’ anatomy without any normal anatomical variation. For the above reasons, we also supplemented teaching with Grant’s dissection videos which explain how to dissect different anatomical regions of human cadavers using a stepwise approach. The dissection videos allow students to learn the practical skills associated with dissection. However, this is a passive approach to learning practical skills by watching videos and the manual dexterity is still missing as an element. Potential Future Avenues: In the post-pandemic Higher Education setting, for our programme, it will be beneficial to adopt a blended learning approach by combining on-campus cadaveric dissection, which is challenging to replicate online in terms of manual dexterity and practical skills, while also using a 3D virtual anatomy atlas for consolidation of such lab information.


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Varsou, O. & Welsh, M. 2021, 'The Use of Virtual Resources to Simulate Lab-based Human Cadaveric Dissection Teaching During COVID-19: a Case Report From the Level 3 BSc in Anatomy Programme', University of Glasgow. http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/246963/

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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