Stunden C, Zakani S, Martin A, Moodley S, Jacob J. Replicating Anatomical Teaching Specimens Using 3D Modeling Embedded Within a Multimodal e-Learning Course: Pre-Post Study Exploring the Impact on Medical Education During COVID-19. JMIR Med Educ. 2021 Nov 17;7(4):e30533

PMID: 34787589


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant effects on anatomy education. During the pandemic, students have had no access to cadavers, which has been the principal method of learning anatomy. We created and tested a customized congenital heart disease e-learning course for medical students that contained interactive 3D models of anonymized pediatric congenital heart defects.

Objective: The aim of this study is to assess whether a multimodal e-learning course contributed to learning outcomes in a cohort of first-year undergraduate medical students studying congenital heart diseases. The secondary aim is to assess student attitudes and experiences associated with multimodal e-learning.

Methods: The pre-post study design involved 290 first-year undergraduate medical students. Recruitment was conducted by course instructors. Data were collected before and after using the course. The primary outcome was knowledge acquisition (test scores). The secondary outcomes included attitudes and experiences, time to complete the modules, and browser metadata.

Results: A total of 141 students were included in the final analysis. Students' knowledge significantly improved by an average of 44.6% (63/141) when using the course (SD 1.7%; Z=-10.287; P<.001). Most students (108/122, 88.3%) were highly motivated to learn with the course, and most (114/122, 93.5%) reported positive experiences with the course. There was a strong correlation between attitudes and experiences, which was statistically significant (rs=0.687; P<.001; n=122). No relationships were found between the change in test scores and attitudes (P=.70) or experiences (P=.47). Students most frequently completed the e-learning course with Chrome (109/141, 77.3%) and on Apple macOS (86/141, 61%) or Windows 10 (52/141, 36.9%). Most students (117/141, 83%) had devices with high-definition screens. Most students (83/141, 58.9%) completed the course in <3 hours.

Conclusions: Multimodal e-learning could be a viable solution in improving learning outcomes and experiences for undergraduate medical students who do not have access to cadavers. Future research should focus on validating long-term learning outcomes.