Pedagogical Perspectives on the Use of Technology within Medical Curricula: Moving Away from Norm Driven Implementation

  • Gabrielle M. FinnEmail author
  • Joanna Matthan
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1120)


There is often an expectation that any educational institution worth its salt will be at the forefront of technological advances. An often unchallenged and somewhat romanticised viewpoint persists that, in all cases, technology is best. What is not always openly discussed is the evidence base and pedagogy behind the use of technology, visualisation and traditional approaches of teaching within the fields of medical and anatomy education curricula. There are many advantages to using technology within the learning environment but, often, it is possible to achieve the same outcomes through the use of many other non-technological instructional modalities. The frequent shortcoming when institutions use technology is that there is a lack of integration across the curriculum, a failure to map to the blueprint, little attempt to include technology in the feedback cycle and assessment, and insufficient time and resource allocation for educators developing resources. Without careful implementation and integration, it can appear that institutions are throwing the latest developments at students without due care and consideration to the evidence-base and without the necessary institutional support for staff and resource development. This is not the fault of educators; the competing demands on staff time and institutional drive to climb the ranking tables means that technology is often perceived as the quick fix.


Technology Curriculum Medicine Learning Research Visualisation Pedagogy Education Students Learners Educator TEL Technology-enhanced learning 


  1. AbouHashem Y, Dayal M, Savanah S, Štrkalj G (2015) The application of 3D printing in anatomy education. Med Educ Online 20:1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aka JJ, Cookson NE, Hafferty FW, Finn GM (2018) Teaching by stealth: utilising the hidden curriculum through body painting within anatomy education. Eur J Anat 22(2):173–182Google Scholar
  3. Atkinson RC, Jackson GB (1992) Research and education reform. National Academy Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  4. Beaudoin M (1990) The instructor’s changing role in distance education. Am J Dist Educ 4(2):21–29Google Scholar
  5. Beetham H, White D (2013) Students’ expectations and experiences of the digital environment. Accessed 3 Oct 2018
  6. Briggs S (2005) Changing roles and competencies of academics. Active Learn Higher Educ 6(3):256–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Buckingham J (2005) The problem with educational research. The Australian 18:18Google Scholar
  8. Clunie L, Morris NP, Jones VCT, Pickering JD (2017) How comprehensive are research studies investigating the efficacy of technology-enhanced learning resources in anatomy education? A systematic review. Anat Sci Educ 11(3):303–319PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Collins A, Halverson R (2010) The second educational revolution: rethinking education in the age of technology. J Comput Assist Learn 26(1):18–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cook DA (2009) The failure of e-learning research to inform educational practice, and what we can do about it. Med Teach 31:2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cookson NE, Aka JJ, Finn GM (2018) An exploration of anatomists’ views toward the use of body painting in anatomical and medical education: an international study. Anat Sci Educ 11(2):146–154PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Delgaty L (2014) Twelve tips for academic role and institutional change in distance learning. Med Teach 37(1):41–46PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Delgaty L, Matthan J, Rawles L, Guilding C, Woolner P, Thomas U (2016) Digital capabilities and expectations of prospective students: preparing higher education for learning and teaching of the future. In: BERA conference, 2016, Leeds, UKGoogle Scholar
  14. Delgaty L, Fisher J, Thompson R (2017) The ‘dark side’ of technology in medical education. AMEE MedEdPublish. Accessed 2 Oct 2018
  15. Dijck J (2013) The culture of connectivity. Oxford University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dori YJ, Belcher J (2005) How does technology-enabled active learning affect undergraduate students’ understanding of electromagnetism concepts? J Learn Sci 14(2):243–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Finn GM (2015) Using body painting and other art-based approaches to teach anatomy. In: Teaching anatomy. Springer, Cham, pp 155–164Google Scholar
  18. Finn GM, McLachlan JC (2010) A qualitative study of student responses to body painting. Anat Sci Educ 3(1):33–38PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Finn GM, Patten D, McLachlan JC (2010) The impact of wearing scrubs on contextual learning. Med Teach 32(5):381–384PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Finn GM, Sawdon M, Griksaitis M (2012) The additive effect of teaching undergraduate cardiac anatomy using cadavers and ultrasound echocardiography. Eur J Anat 16(3):199–205Google Scholar
  21. Fried CB (2008) In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Comput Educ 50:906–914CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Giles J (2005) Internet encyclopaedias go head to head. Nature 438:900–901PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gordon JA et al (2001) “Practicing” medicine without risk: students’ and educators’ responses to high-fidelity patient simulation. Acad Med 76(5):469–472PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Griksaitis MJ, Sawdon MA, Finn GM (2012) Ultrasound and cadaveric prosections as methods for teaching cardiac anatomy: a comparative study. Anat Sci Educ 5(1):20–26PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Griksaitis MJ, Scott MP, Finn GM (2014) Twelve tips for teaching with ultrasound in the undergraduate curriculum. Med Teach 36(1):19–24PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Guckian J, Spencer J (2018) #SixSecondStudying: the rise and fall of vine in MedEd. Clin Teach 15:1–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Herring MY (2001) 10 reasons why the internet is no substitute for a library. Dacus Library Faculty publications paper 22. Accessed 30 Sept 2018
  28. Hovenga EJS, Bricknell L (2006) Changing academic roles: new approaches to teaching and distance learning in Australia. Methods Inf Med 45(3):288–293PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. JISC Website (2018.) Available at Accessed 1 Oct 2018
  30. Judson E (2006) How teachers integrate technology and their beliefs about learning: is there a connection? J Technol Teach Educ 14(3):581–597Google Scholar
  31. Lee K (2017) Rethinking the accessibility of online higher education: a historical review. Internet High Educ 33:15–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lévy P (1997) Education and training: new technologies and collective intelligence. Prospects 27(2):248–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Maran NJ, Glavin RJ (2003) Low-to high-fidelity simulation – a continuum of medical education? Med Educ 37:22–28PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McMenamin PG, Quayle MR, McHenry CR, Adams JW (2014) The production of anatomical teaching resources using three-dimensional (3D) printing technology. Anat Sci Educ 7:479–486PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mueller PA, Oppenheimer DM (2014) Corrigendum: the pen is mightier than the keyboard: advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychol Sci 25:1159–1168PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. National Research Council (2000) How people learn: brain, mind, experience, and school, Expanded edn. National Academy Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  37. Norman G (2002) Research in medical education: three decades of progress. Br Med J 324:1560–1562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Peck KL, Dorricott D (1994) Why use technology? Educ Leadersh 51:11–11Google Scholar
  39. Phillips AW, Matthan J, Bookless LR, Whitehead IJ, Madhavan A, Rodham P, Porter ALR, Nesbitt CI, Stansby G (2017) Individualised expert feedback is not essential for improving basic clinical skills performance in novice learners: a randomized trial. J Surg Educ 74(4):612–620PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pinch TJ (1992) Opening black boxes: science, technology and society. Soc Stud Sci 22(3):487–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ragan ED, Jennings SR, Massey JD, Doolittle PE (2014) Unregulated use of laptops over time in large lecture classes. Comput Educ 78:78–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rammell J, Matthan J, Gray M, Bookless LR, Nesbitt CI, Rodham P, Moss J, Stansby G, Phillips AW (2018) Asynchronous unsupervised video-enhanced feedback as effective as direct expert feedback in the long-term retention of practical clinical skills: randomised trial comparing two feedback methods in a cohort of novice medical students. J Surg Educ. Accessed 2 Oct 2018
  43. Ravizza SM, Hambrick DZ, Fenn KM (2014) Non-academic internet use in the classroom is negatively related to classroom learning regardless of intellectual ability. Comput Educ 78:109–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Reis S, Guimarães P, Coelho F, Nogueira E, Coelho L (2018) A framework for simulation systems and technologies for medical training. In: Global medical engineering physics exchanges/Pan American Health Care Exchanges (GMEPE/PAHCE) 2018Google Scholar
  45. Resta P, Laferrière T (2007) Technology in support of collaborative learning. Educ Psychol Rev 19(1):65–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Roberts D, Newman LR, Schwarzstein R (2012) Twelve tips for facilitating millennials’ learning. Med Teach 34(4):274–278PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sampson PJ (2010) Deliberate engagement of laptops in large lecture classes to improve attentiveness and engagement. ASEE Comput Educ 2:27–38Google Scholar
  48. Sparrow B, Liu J, Wegner DM (2011) Google effects on memory: cognitive consequences of having information at our fingertips. Science 333(6043):776–778PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wikipedia Contributors (2018) Wiki. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 2 Oct 2018Google Scholar
  50. Wilson AM, Likens GE (2015) Content volatility of scientific topics in Wikipedia: a cautionary tale. PLoS One 10(8):e0134454PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wong G, Greenhalgh T, Pawton R (2010) Internet based medical education: a realist review of what works, for whom and in what circumstances. BMC Med Educ 10:12PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Professions Education Unit, Hull York Medical SchoolUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  2. 2.School of Medical Education, Faculty of Medical SciencesNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

Personalised recommendations