J. Laakkonen

University of Helsinki (FINLAND)
Dissection is an important part of veterinary anatomy teaching curriculum, and it is difficult to entirely replace it with morphological or virtual models. Mobile devices and their applications may, however, be implemented as part of dissection to enhance the learning process. Until now they haven’t been used widely, partly because the learning environment in which dissection work is carried out, is often moist and dirty, and thus potentially causing problems for the use of electronic devices. The aim of this study was to gain information on the usefulness of iPads as learning tools during veterinary dissection sessions.

First – year veterinary students’ experiences the use of iPads as learning tools during dissections were studied during several dissection courses of pet and production animals. One iPad mini containing e-versions of one anatomical textbook and one anatomical atlas were available for each working group consisting of six or seven students. IPads were covered with plastic bags so that they could be used by the dirty dissection tables. Paper versions of the anatomy books and atlases were also available. Two or three anatomy teachers were present during the courses to supervise, and they also made direct observations on the use of iPads. After the courses, students’ experiences on the use of iPads were collected by a questionnaire.

Students used iPads primarily for taking notes, for planning their group work and for accessing the e-books. Students also downloaded lecture handouts from electronic platforms of previous anatomy courses to complement and customize their learning material. Students found it particularly useful to be able to compare the books’ figures directly to their cadaver findings. Students felt that the e-books would have been more useful if they had been interactive (e.g. include virtual models and exercises). Some students stated that they did not gain any significant learning benefits from the use of iPads.

iPads not only provide an alternative to heavy textbooks, but they also present possibilities for new learning approaches to cadaver dissections. The availability of e-books increased the use of books to solve dissection problems without help from teachers.