Anatomy at their fingertips at Sunway

medical table top interactive

Medical students at the Monash Sunway campus will have a unique introduction to the human body through interactive displays that will offer a distinctive perspective on what lies beneath the skin.

Two award-winning anatomy lecturers at the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dr Arkendu Sen and Associate Professor Lakshmi Selvaratnam, designed the Multi-Touch Smart Table Project to help medical students understand the functions of the human body. 

“Advances in multi-touch tabletop computing, an emerging technology for classroom learning, offer invaluable opportunities to explore how effective collaborative learning can support adult and group learners, including in medicine,” Associate Professor Selvaratnam said. 

Last year, the academics received an Office of Learning and Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning in the Australian Awards for University Teaching 2013, awarded by the Australian Government for innovations in technology-enhanced learning.

“This culminated in the setting up of the educational framework or pedagogy to combine innovative, multi-touch computing technology with available learning resources for effective learning of practical skills,” Associate Professor Selvaratnam said.

The innovative ecosystem of multi-touch tabletops was co-developed with Smart Surface Sdn Bhd, taking nearly two years from August 2011, from inception to completion. 

To understand the basic structure of the human body, a lecturer can demonstrate a cross-section model of the human abdomen through a multi-touch smart table and correlate these with, for example, an MRI scan. 

A student can also carry out research on the organisation and positioning of organs in the abdominal cavity through individual web browsers in the student tabletop and, at the same time, engage hands-on with the wide variety of available anatomy learning resources. 

Dr Sen said the Multi-Touch Smart Table Project would lead to active learning while allowing medical students to explore and manipulate digital images.

“The system encourages students to work both independently and cooperatively during anatomy practicals to research information and brainstorm prior to hands-on practical engagement, and receive feedback on their learning, as early data from pre-clinical medical students suggests,” Dr Sen said.

"This will also help both students and teachers to find a range of solutions to studying the human body whether in normal function or in disease, and can be applied on a wider scale to allied health and science practical education."