Research

Growing the QMUL Virtual Tissue Lab (Westfield Trust and EPSRC IAA).

Principal investigator: Tina CHOWDHURY
Co-investigator(s): K. Turner and P. McOwan
Funding source(s): EPSRC
 Start: 01-05-2013  /  End: 31-03-2014
 Amount: £10000
SEMS division:

Screen shots detailing the methods utilised in the virtual lab. These are sophisticated techniques routinely used in the real bioengineering lab e.g. bioreactor system for culture of tissue engineered constructsFunding from SEIF and the Westfield Trust supported the evolutionary development of a virtual, interactive teaching aid called the Virtual Tissue Lab (VTL).

The site called www.virtualtissuelab.com encourages level 7 students to experience real-life lessons in academic practice and transferable skills needed for life long learning. Technical skills are taught with 3D interactive games technology such that the student can practice lab procedures multiple times and learn from mistakes without incurring additional resource. The VTL utilises the Learnexx 3D virtual lab platform and is custom designed to mimic the facilities and equipment which exist in the real bioengineering world. This has been achieved through collaboration with the life science companies, Eppendorf and Ocean Optics. In addition, the VTL facilitates feedback and personalised assessment on user performance by incorporating self-assessment, peer-review and an evaluation / self reflection process.

A short video illustrating the key features of the virtual tissue lab can be viewed at: http://learnexx.com/QMULVirtualTissueLab.aspx

The project was awarded a Drapers prize in teaching innovations and has been shortlisted for the 2013 S-Lab Awards (www.effectivelab.org.uk).

The new project will build on previous excellence and explore the VTL approach college-wide by broadening the application to SEMS, SMD and SBCS students (approx 800 users). The basic lab knowledge and skills will be taught to 1st year medical / material course (MAT4003) in conjunction with SMD (MBBS, Fun Med) and SBCS (Biochem, Mol Biol) programmes and will consist of the following generic format:

  1. Lab safety and basic rules
  2. Techniques
  3. Record keeping and personalised feedback with Learnexx 3D

In summary, this innovative, cost effective platform is designed to improve learning and will help students learn lab skills effectively and safely, in a novel and exciting way.

A video of what the students thought can be viewed at: http://learnexx.com/Interviews.aspx.

A short video highlighting some of the new features of the 2013 Beta version can be viewed at: http://learnexx.com/newfeatures.aspx