Development of Multimedia Presentations for Embryology of the Eye and Ear and Anatomy of the Ear in the Head, Neck, and Special Senses

The focus of my project was on the lectures of Embryology of the Eye and Ear, and Clinical: Anatomy of the Ear in the Head, Neck, and Special Senses (HNSS, IMSC 531) Module in the spring for the medical students. There are 196 students enrolled in this module.

During the past years these lectures were presented by powerpoint presentation and while the slides were available to the students before and after the lectures, the slides were not very efficient in transferring the course material before the lectures. Therefore, the students would not be prepared during the lecture to engage in interactive questions and answers.

Through my ITEL project, I was attempting to apply the new technology in making learning fun and enjoyable, and prepare the students before the lectures with accessible and informative materials that could be accessed any time and anywhere. To achieve this aim, I prepared two movies that contained the course materials of the lectures on the Embryology of the Eye and Ear. For the Embryology of the Eye I prepared a 26-minute long movie and for the Embryology of the Ear a 16-minute movie. The movies were posted on Blackboard and the students were asked to watch them prior to the lectures. Since these movies had narrative and sound track, the course materials were explicit and could efficiently prepare the students for the lectures and final exams. In addition, watching a 15 or 25 minute animated movie is usually more pleasant that reading a book or going through the static PowerPoint slides. The movies can be watched either on smart phones, tablets or laptops. These two movies replaced the lectures that I made in the previous years and during the class instead of lecturing, I had prepared questions related to the course materials included in the movies and asked the students to answer them via their clickers. This approach was useful in engaging the students in an interactive learning and in encouraging them to participate in explanations and answers.

The goal of this project was to provide the students with the course materials that were easy to use to enhance their learning ability and to make the learning pleasant. The guiding questions were:

  1. how to incorporate the use of mobile devices such as smart phone, iPad and laptop into the course materials?
  2. Whether the incorporation of technology in the course delivery would enhance student learning?
  3. Whether the student would prefer the use of this technology to the classical methods of distributing slides and handouts?

By implementing this ITEL project, I was hoping to communicate the lecture details in an effective way and at the same time make the learning more pleasant and accessible at any time. The idea behind this project was to provide the students with the lecture contents in form of movies that could be watched on iPhone, iPad and laptop at anytime to prepare the students for the lectures and the final exam. Explaining the lecture materials in form of animated movies could be more effective than the static slides. The technology in this project was implemented to prepare the students before the lecture for an interactive question and answer during the lecture and to provide them the opportunity to ask their questions during the lecture.

The first step to collect feedback on the impact of my project on students learning was assessed during the lectures by the questions and answers that were given to the students and the result of the quiz recorded by the clickers.

20 questions related to the lecture on Embryology of the eye and 20 questions on Embryology of the Ear were prepared before the lecture. During the lecture the questions were presented one by one on a PowerPoint slide and students were asked to answer using their clickers. From the recorded answers of the students, the majority of the students answered the questions correctly that could be an indication of the effectiveness of the project.

In addition, a survey was given to the students and the results were collected for analysis and conclusion.

From 196 medical students enrolled in this class, only 20 students completed the survey and therefore the data cannot be generalized to all students. However, analyzing the data of the survey was still significant and effective for drawing some useful conclusions from a small cohort of participants.

The comments of the students were very helpful in understanding whether this technology was useful and effective, and how I should improve the technology for the next years.

On the comment related to the effectiveness of the ITEL activity, 63.6% believed that the movies were effective or very effective and asked for keeping them for future students, and 36.3% found that the movies were as effective as the slides or did not have much impact on their learning.

On the comment related to the limitations of the ITEL activity, most students commented on the speed option of the movies to be able to speed up the movies or slow them down.

Another limitation for me was a miscommunication that occurred after I posted the movies on the blackboard. After posting the movies on blackboard, I marked in red in the comment section, asking the students to watch the movies before coming to the lectures. However, the majority of the students did not open the course materials before the lectures, and therefore did not take notice of the note I had added to the blackboard. The students expect to receive announcements by general emails and do not necessarily look at the course materials before the lectures. I will apply this experience to the next year lectures.

Regarding ways to improve the project, the majority of the students would like to have access to audio speed control and to incorporate more animation on development of the embryo. These comments are very constructive and helpful in improving the quality of the ITEL project for the next coming years. However, the limitation in improving the quality of the movie and incorporating more animation in embryology is the funding that would not allow the production of a commercially developed movie. For a commercially generated movie with real three-dimensional animation, the companies charge about $5,000 to $15,000 that would require a grant funding aimed to generate a professional animated movie for embryology of the Eye and Ear.

From analyzing the comments of the students and the results of the short survey, I learned that the majority of the student who responded to the survey liked the ITEL project used in my lectures and were enthusiastic about the future use of this project. There were also some constructive comments that I can use to improve the ITEL project for the next coming years.

Based on the survey and students comments, we cannot classify all students in the same cohort. There are students that prefer the handouts and PowerPoint slides, whereas, others prefer the use of technology, and in my case the movies. While this could be students’ personal opinion, majority of the students expressed positive comments and were enthusiastic toward the use of the ITEL project. I also learned that students expect to receive direct information by email in order to open the course materials before the lectures. The knowledge that I acquired by participating in this cohort helped me to better understand the students needs and requirements. I can use my experience to improve my project for the next year. I also believe that sharing my experience with my colleagues at GUMC will be helpful in guiding other faculty on how to implement the technology based on the students’ requirements.

For my project, I encountered the challenge of preparing two movies in a short period of time without technical support. As I did not have the funds to ask for help from professional companies I was obliged to prepare the movies by using iMovie. If I could have sufficient funds to involve a professional company to help with the movie production, I could have prepared a more sophisticated movie with three-dimensional animations. I propose that for different types of projects, based on the expenses and challenges that the project requires, various types of funds be allotted. Some projects do not require any special funding, whereas others require more important funding and that should be considered in the future ITEL projects.