Virtual patient, interactive teaching tools showcased at conference on learning

Minister Ong Ye Kung (right) wearing a HoloLens as Associate Professor Erle Lim (centre, in blue) demonstrates the MediSIM, an augmented reality surgery training tool.
Minister Ong Ye Kung (right) wearing a HoloLens as Associate Professor Erle Lim (centre, in blue) demonstrates the MediSIM, an augmented reality surgery training tool.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Medical students in Singapore will soon be able to see a patient's abdomen through their X-ray vision.

Simulated X-ray vision, that is.

In about a year, they can use an augmented reality program that will enable them to see and feel the insides of an abdominal manikin, and learn about diseases and symptoms through the interactive program.

Called MediSIM, the program allows the students to learn about the human anatomy without causing inconvenience and pain to patients.

Users will don a headset and examine the abdominal manikin that has interchangeable organs. They can see and feel the physical symptoms of the virtual patient.

When the users click on the symptoms, they can learn more about them and the possible causes.

"This is no substitute for real patients, but this can allow students to get some clinical experience, especially early on, without inconveniencing our patients, " said one of the creators of MediSIM, Associate Professor Erle Lim of  Yong Yoo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The program, which was developed with Carnegie Mellon University, piloted in Singapore this year.

MediSIM is showcased at the second National Conference on Technology-Enhanced Learning, hosted by NUS from Nov 21 to 22. It features various ways of incorporating technology into education and the advantages of doing so.

Other programs showcased include one that helps educators and students create augmented reality scenes and projects with ease.

The ConJAR software runs as a mobile application, and allows users to design and showcase 3D augmented reality scenes without prior training.

For example, if a professor wants to explain the brain to his class, he can download a 3D image of a brain from the Internet, and create a model that can be turned and shifted while he is conducting his lesson.

The two-day conference features speakers from overseas including Australia and the United States, as well as student speakers from local universities.

At the opening ceremony on Tuesday (Nov 21), Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung said that technology will affect both the way people teach and learn.

He said it will enable teaching to be done more effectively, from allowing resources to be shared online to ensuring better understanding through visualisation tools and gamification, and allow students to experience learning more thoroughly.

"Confucius said 'when I hear, I forget, when I see, I remember, when I do, I understand'. With gamification, we can add one line 'when I play, I will remember and understand at the same time'," he said.