Exam TV: Human tissue filmed in close-ups revealing the tiniest details – University of Copenhagen

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19 April 2016

Exam TV: Human tissue filmed in close-ups revealing the tiniest details

A picture emerges on the computer screen. Professor Jørgen Olsen and Assistant Lecturer Fahd Al-Shahrestani smile as they welcome viewers in front of a dark examination table with a black plate.  On camera, they explain how today, they will prepare 3rd semester medical students at the University of Copenhagen for some of the questions and challenges they may face during their anatomy exam. 

Fahd Al-Shahrestani brings out the first “specimen”. It is part of a lower body with areas of the spine and hip intact. The tissue is yellowish and drained of all fluids. Professor Jørgen Olsen starts explaining about the various structures in the specimen and which part of the body they are examining. 

Then it is time for the viewers, i.e. the students, to hit the keyboard and assess whether it is a bunch of muscle fibres or a vein that Fahd Al-Shahrestani is carefully lifting with a pair of tweezers. 

The students on the other side of the screen are able to click on a link that allows them to submit their desired answer. 

Simultaneously, Jørgen Olsen and Fahd Al-Shahrestani keep an eye on their screen where the students’ anonymous answers are revealed. When all answers are submitted, Jørgen Olsen provides them with the correct answer as well as the road to the correct conclusion. 

New type of lecture will help students pass their exams

Live-streamed lectures where students are allowed to interact during the lecture have not been tried before. However, according to Professor Jørgen Olsen, who came up with the idea for this new type of exam TV, it is a unique opportunity. 

“It’s a unique opportunity for all students, including the shy ones, to pit themselves against questions that are similar to the ones they will be subjected to in the anatomy exam,” says Professor Jørgen Olsen from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

The use of cameras and close-ups enable all students to view specimens close up. The students will have to identify eight different specimens during the lecture and name the structure, which is exactly what they will have to do in their exam, a couple of weeks hence. 

An e-learning consultant and a videographer from the Centre for Online and Blended Learning (COBL) at SUND have helped Jørgen Olsen develop the idea, and they have also been responsible for the technical side of things, e.g. the system Answergarden, which enables students to submit answers on an “online blackboard” (read more about the advantages of this teaching method in the fact box). If several students submit the same answer, the writing will be proportionally enlarged. This allows Jørgen Olsen and Fahd Al-Shahrestani to register whether the majority of answers are correct and provide feedback accordingly. 

Out of a class of 299, 158 students participated in the first live-streamed lecture, and an average of 111 students answered the questions posed. 

“This is absolutely considered a success, not least as it’s the first time we’ve tried it. Now we’ll have to see whether future interactive lectures will attract even more participants,” says Jørgen Olsen. 

Students can contribute with questions

According to Jørgen Olsen, live-streamed interactive lectures have obvious advantages:

“We can customize our teaching to adhere to students’ exam preparations based on questions concurrently submitted. We don’t need an auditorium as students can sit at home or at Panum, alone or with their study groups.”

The lectures are filmed without any students present; they last half an hour and will be broadcast when students have no other classes to attend.

The lectures will be made available through Absalon, though without the possibility of interaction.

Enable improved teaching 

The teaching method – i.e. live-streamed interactive lectures – can easily be utilized beyond exam preparation. Centre for Online and Blended Learning (COBL) point to three areas where this method can potentially improve both teaching and learning processes:

  1. By filming right up close, all students are able to see the tiny details in for example muscles and other small structures. Something that it is otherwise very hard to manage in a room with approx. 200 students as is the case in traditional lectures. 
  2. Live-streaming combined with interactive answers and questions focuses the teaching, it activates participant and more students join in than in traditional lectures. 
  3. The lectures will be made available once they are completed. This affords the students an opportunity to revise the material, which we know from surveys increases student learning. 


Read more at cobl.ku.dk