From Lecture Halls to Zoom Links: How Can Educational Theory Help Us to Deliver Effective and Engaging Teaching in an Online Environment?
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Adv Exp Med Biol
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Anatomical education has a long and colourful history, ranging from the anatomical theatre and artistic flourish of the renaissance period to modern-day virtual reality. Over the centuries, the body has been taken apart and mapped in exquisite detail. We are now able to access virtual models of the body anywhere, anytime, which allow for unlimited dissection and manipulation. Despite this progress, the majority of anatomical educators continue to deliver anatomy in a laboratory setting, using hands-on learning approaches such as dissection of cadaveric material. These methods are robustly supported by educational theories, such as information processing theory and experiential learning but require students to be present in a dissection room with access to human cadaveric material.The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic forced anatomy educators out of familiar dissection laboratories and into unfamiliar and uncomfortable virtual environments. When moving online during the pandemic, active learning theories, which form the basis of face-to-face classes, were used to construct interactive anatomy webinars to replace the on-campus practical laboratory-based teaching. The focus of these webinars was on student interactivity, and visual content with drawing activities, breakout groups, virtual three-dimensional models, and identifying activities being integrated into each session. Student feedback showed an appreciation of the interactive nature of these sessions, and staff were surprised at how well the webinars delivered engaging and interactive teaching at a time of limited social contact. This approach was not only useful during the restrictions of a pandemic but could offer a complementary approach to delivering practical anatomy teaching as we return to blended and on-campus learning again.