We are trying to improve the education of medical and dental students in regards to human development. Our goal is to generate informed physicians and dentists that are more aware of the occurrence of congenital anomalies and birth defects.
Read about our work at the following:
Embryon is the result of a collaboration of basic scientists, artists, and computer engineers. Embryon is a collection of digital learning objects that are being assessed in their effectiveness in teaching human embryology in medical or dental curricula. The basic scientists include faculty, medical students, and graduate students at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) who have expertise in embryology and an interest in education and technology. The artists include students and recent graduates of the Cleveland Institute of Art who are highly trained in 3D modeling, animation, and biomedical art. Finally, the computer engineers include students and recent graduates of CWRU with expertise in modeling, game design, and web design.
Embryon is also an educational opportunity for student and
fledgling biomedical artists, scientists, and engineers to advance their education through collaboration to create much needed educational materials. Working together, students can learn real-world application of their skills, as well as skills that may enhance their competitiveness in the job market.
We create digital educational materials that clarify complex issues in human embryological development and, after thorough assessment of efficacy in learning, promote and enhance self-learning. Using student focus groups and group assessments, we have found that interactive 3D educational modules are efficient in examining and understanding these issues.
Our goals are to create more of these materials to cover other important topics in human development, to explore further their application in learning, and to enhance the educational and professional opportunities for new scientists, artists, and engineers.
According to the World Health Organization (Fact sheet #370):
- Congenital anomalies (also referred as birth defects) affect an estimated 1 in 33 infants and result in approximately 3.2 million birth defect-related disabilities every year.
- An estimated 270 000 newborns die during the first 28 days of life every year from congenital anomalies.
In order for physicians to understand and treat a congenital anomaly, they must first understand normal human development and what may occur to cause a congenital anomaly. For example, the occurrence of a cleft lip or palate should be evaluated quickly to determine the extent and impact of the anomaly, followed by a course of action to help the child. In addition, dentists are, in many cases, the first health professional to assess the general health of patients, and may refer a patient to additional medical care. Thus, dentist should have familiarity with normal human development and the occurrence of anomalies.In recently re-designed medical and dental curricula, less student/instructor contact time is available to teach the structural basic sciences such as anatomy and embryology. In fact, some institutions have all but removed embryological concepts from medical and dental student education. The student is still compelled to learn the material due to the presence of embryological concepts on board exams and in clinical practice.
developed a human head and neck embryology interactive application (version 2)
that depicts development of the head, face, eye, central nervous system, and
The interactive can be accessed at http://casemed.case.edu/embryon as a web application. You can also find Embryon as an App for the iPad.
Our human head and neck embryology interactive application includes instruction on full body development, palate, head and neck abnormalities, central nervous system (CNS), eye, and ear using 3d models, 2D developmental animations, and assessment tools.
We are also in the process of creating a human cardiovascular development simulation that combines animation, digital 3D heart modeling, and 3D printed heart models.
We have decided to use 3D models and their application as a medium for these educational materials because they have great versatility in application and can enhance learning of embryological concepts compared to 2D representations or text. Instead of a single static image of a human embryo or a developing organ, the student is able to manipulate the object in space and time, which allows examination of the object from different perspectives. The modular structure of the material allows the continuous addition of other topics.
Today’s students are digital natives and are comfortable using on-line and digital assets in their study. However, our previous work has shown that the presentation of embryological structures a 3D models rather than using 2D illustrations enhances a student’s understanding of the morphogenesis of complex tissues and organs. A student can grasp the complexities of facial development or heart development much quicker and with deeper understanding through the use of a 3D model rather than 2D illustrations.
We have a goal of $40,000 to complete the cardiovascular simulation, but any funds obtained will be used to create additional educational materials examining topics such as gastrointestinal and genitourinary development. The vast majority of the funds will go to student and graduate artist and engineer salaries. Some of the funds will be used to assess existing and proposed materials for their efficacy in medical education. This should allow months of work that will lead to material and data for further grant proposals including those for establishing a small business based faculty/student production model.
All of these materials produced will be available for use by other institutions (public and private).
We ask for your financial support. Your donations are TAX-DEDUCTIBLE. We also ask that you tell your friends, family, co-workers, and anyone about our campaign using Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and all other social media. Become part of our campaign and part of our project.
Any contribution is valuable and appreciated, and we have some perks for you. We are very excited about what we have accomplished and what we are planning to create. Our team is talented and enthusiastic, and our goals are lofty. But, we need you and your help.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Over the last decade, medical and dental education has moved from traditional didactic teaching methods to more active learning methods such as small-group problem-based learning. While active learning methods are effective in the curriculum, the instructor/student contact time was greatly reduced to accommodate the time needed for self-learning. As a result, the time spent on basic science concepts, including embryology, was reduced is favor of clinical and professional-development education.
A small amount of funding became available to produce and assess the implementation of a digital learning object to teach embryological concepts. The idea was that this learning object would offset the reduced instructor/student contact time in embryological instruction. Assessment of the impact of this material on student learning was favorable, so a bit more funding was provided to refine the digital learning object based on the assessment data. We have revised the learning object and are currently assessing its effectiveness in learning (casemed.case.edu/embryon).
What we also found was that students preferred the 3D depiction of embryological development and that the material provided clarification to other developmental and clinical concepts presented in other aspects of the curriculum.
While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a good functional 3D model clarifies biological concepts, helps the student to achieve learning objectives, and off-sets loss in instructor/student contact time.
To try to create a greater impact using digital learning objects, we have decided to combine the digital material with physical manipulatives through 3D printing.
For example, in the heart embryonic simulation, the student learns how the primitive heart tube subdivides into the 4 chambers of the fetal and adult heart. The student is also presented with material to understand the congenital heart anomalies that result from the failure to complete formation of these chambers. Once a student has completed the digital material and assessment in our application, they will be presented with the same heart model from the application, but as a physical 3D printed model, that depicts either normal development or formation of a congenial anomaly. This would further drive the understanding of the material in the digital application. We believe there is much educational value and opportunity in the 3D technology available now, as well as that in the future.