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CQUni distance learners to study human body in online labs

CQUniversityCQUniversity’s distance education students are to conduct laboratory studies of the human body using online virtual patients, clinics, dissecting rooms, labs and diagnostic tools – without ever stepping foot in a conventional laboratory.
The University has adopted a revolutionary new Adaptive eLearning Platform developed by the Australian education technology start-up Smart Sparrow, enabling the creation of rich, interactive and adaptive learning experiences powered by learning analytics. The technology was spun out of a research group at the University of New South Wales.
CQUniversity will deploy the platform to create and deliver a series of new online learning modules in the course Human Body Systems. This course is taught to Medical Science, Exercise Science, Paramedic Science, Chiropractic, and Sonography and Imaging students. About 70 per cent of students are distance learners.
To make CQUniversity’s course and the virtual hands-on laboratory experiences accessible to all students, and to foster attributes such as critical thinking and problem solving, the School of Medical and Applied Sciences is replacing a number of its conventional ‘wet labs’ with new online, interactive and immersive environments, experiences and tools.
University students with access to such interactive educational experiences, that adapt to each individual’s level of knowledge and pace and offer a blended teaching approach, have demonstrated consistently improved outcomes.
“Smart Sparrow works for us in two ways – to replace the lab, which relieves our distance learners of the great burden of having to come to campus, and also to provide a pedagogical advantage as it enables students to self-pace, repeat activities, and apply complex ideas and concepts in engaging ways,” says Professor Fiona Coulson, Dean of the School of Medical and Applied Sciences.
“Smart Sparrow offers several advantages over a face-to-face class. For example, we can give students the opportunity to explore complex concepts in human reproductive systems, like changing levels of hormones, and to understand these ideas in a hands-on way that we wouldn’t be able to do in a wet lab.”
Professor Coulson said feedback from both staff and students had been very favourable and CQUni was exploring further opportunities to implement this adaptive learning approach.
Smart Sparrow CEO and founder, Dr Dror Ben-Naim says “virtual laboratories are one example where the online learning experience can exceed the offline. They enable more opportunities to ‘learn by doing’, especially in the case of distance learners”.
“The future of online education is full of potential to deliver great learning experience, regardless of geographic location. CQUni is one of the universities leading the way in this respect,” Dr Ben-Naim says.

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