ABSTRACT: From chalkboard, slides, and paper to e-learning: How computing technologies have transformed anatomical sciences education
Until the late-twentieth century, primary anatomical sciences education was relatively unenhanced by advanced technology and dependent on the mainstays of printed textbooks, chalkboard- and photographic projection-based classroom lectures, and cadaver dissection laboratories. But over the past three decades, diffusion of innovations in computer technology transformed the practices of anatomical education and research, along with other aspects of work and daily life. Increasing adoption of first-generation personal computers (PCs) in the 1980s paved the way for the first practical educational applications, and visionary anatomists foresaw the usefulness of computers for teaching. While early computers lacked high-resolution graphics capabilities and interactive user interfaces, applications with video discs demonstrated the practicality of programming digital multimedia linking descriptive text with anatomical imaging. Desktop publishing established that computers could be used for producing enhanced lecture notes, and commercial presentation software made it possible to give lectures using anatomical and medical imaging, as well as animations. Concurrently, computer processing supported the deployment of medical imaging modalities, including computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and ultrasound, that were subsequently integrated into anatomy instruction. Following its public birth in the mid-1990s, the World Wide Web became the ubiquitous multimedia networking technology underlying the conduct of contemporary education and research. Digital video, structural simulations, and mobile devices have been more recently applied to education. Progressive implementation of computer-based learning methods interacted with waves of ongoing curricular change, and such technologies have been deemed crucial for continuing medical education reforms, providing new challenges and opportunities for anatomical sciences educators.