Dr. Peter Haar, Assistant Professor of Radiology, oversees the M4 radiology elective rotation and uses digital media tools to craft a blended learning experience for several new M2 courses in the school’s revised curriculum. With his interdisciplinary and innovative approach, gross anatomy at VCU School of Medicine now integrates concepts of radiologic anatomy and extends beyond the classroom’s traditional four walls. This year, computerized tomography (CT) scans were completed for all 32 gross anatomy cadavers. In order to teach cross sectional anatomy and clinical correlations in parallel with gross anatomy, these scanned images were incorporated into a series of screencasts and published online for students to view any time at any place on any device.
Screencasts are online videos that combine what is displayed on a computer screen with an audio narration, and can serve as an effective training tool to reinforce concepts and procedures. Basic screencasting can be achieved with free, easy-to-use apps such as Screenr and Jing.
For the School of Medicine’s gross anatomy course, Dr. Haar’s screencasts are teaching students how to analyze and interpret CT scans using an innovative medical imaging app called image32. According to Dr. Haar,
“Screencasting solves a lot of problems for us. We can present dynamic content, such as 3D animations and scrolling radiology images, which don’t easily fit into static PowerPoint slides. Instructional content is now delivered with ease and consistency to enable each student to rewind and rewatch the sections to ensure their understanding. After viewing, students are better prepared for in-person visits to the gross lab and faculty are better able to focus on more interactive and complex teaching with CT images. The screencasts provide faculty and student interaction without compromising clinical and curriculum schedules.”
The key to a successful screencast begins with a detailed script that outlines the session’s learning objectives and teaching points. He suggests recording the script as a digital audio file first and then recording the procedures on the screen second. The audio and visual data can then be professionally sequenced and edited in an app such as Camtasia or Screenflow. Unlike Screenr and Jing, Camtasia and Screenflow have more advanced editing features that provide Dr. Haar the ability to add video, text, titles and visual notifications.
Dr. Haar started working on his screencasts in October 2013 for his February 2014 course. The first screencast took three times longer to produce than he initially expected. However, now that he is familiar with the workflow and process, he expects the production time of additional radiologic anatomy screencasts to significantly decrease. While many basic screencasts can be completed in thirty minutes, faculty should plan at least two hours to edit their videos after writing a thoughtful, well-planned script that aligns to their objectives.
Medical student response to these videos has been enthusiastic. Based on anecdotal conversations, students seem to welcome more modern, dynamic content with animations and video, as these types of flexible learning resources fit well in the new curriculum.
Dr. Haar worked with Kenneth Warren, Instructional Technologist for Medical Education, to resolve the technical and planning issues involved with producing, uploading and publishing the screencasts to the Radiologic Anatomy blog and School of Medicine’s eCurriculum (learning management system). If you’re inspired by this interdisciplinary and innovative teaching method, and would like to learn to create something similar for your School of Medicine course, please contact Kenneth Warren or Jeanne Schlesinger, Instructional Designer, in the Office of Faculty Affairs.