Innovative projects reimagine education

From left: Mr Fung, Assoc Prof Pillai and Prof Kamei at the awards ceremony

A virtual reality system that creates a three-dimensional (3D) environment for learning anatomy, a Go-Pro to show the instructor’s point of view in a laboratory demonstration, a special teaching method using task-based learning. These innovative projects by members of the NUS community were honoured at the Reimagine Education Conference & Awards Ceremony organised by the Quacquarelli Symonds World Rankings on 25 and 26 November.

A five-year project titled “Applying an Instructor’s Point of View Filming for a Flipped Pre-Laboratory” by NUS Chemistry and NUS Institute for Application of Learning Science and Educational Technology (ALSET) claimed two awards, a Bronze in the Presence Teaching and Learning category and a Bronze in the Life Science & Medicine Discipline category. Led by NUS ALSET Assistant Director (Education) and NUS Chemistry instructor Mr Fung Fun Man, this project aims to develop a more realistic laboratory demonstration video which does away with current third person perspectives. The project makes use of a small wearable device — a GoPro camera or Google Glass — to allow students to see things from the instructor’s point of view, thereby enhancing knowledge and understanding of scientific experiments. The project has resulted in seven peer-reviewed publications and conference proceedings, 159 videos and two international awards.

Mr Fung said, “It is a privilege to be recognised alongside the other international projects at Reimagine Awards. My heartiest thanks to mentors in my department and the NUS Science Deanery for supporting young faculty like myself to apply technology meaningfully in enhancing education at NUS.”

The Virtual Interactive Human Anatomy (VIHA) project, led by NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) Associate Professor Suresh Pillai, took the Gold award in the Asia Regional category. This project, conceptualised by NUS Medicine and supported by the Keio-NUS CUTE Centre, aims to facilitate learning of human anatomy using a 3D Virtual Reality system. The system enhances visualisation and spatial orientation of anatomical structures using high quality precise 3D models to reinforce anatomical interactions, relationships and clinical pathological conditions. Since its launch in July 2017, VIHA has been incorporated into the existing Human Anatomy curriculum at NUS Medicine, serving to augment the high standards of anatomy teaching.

CognaLearn, a spinoff from Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS), earned a Bronze in the Hybrid Learning category. CognaLearn was born after Professor Robert Kamei, then Duke-NUS Vice-Dean (Education) and current NUS Associate Provost (Education) and Director of NUS ALSET, first convinced Commercial Founder and Executive Chairman of CognaLearn Mr Brian O’Dwyer to commercialise some of the team-based learning approaches and technology developed at Duke-NUS. The CognaLearn team uses various patented techniques to assist educators in transforming education by replacing lecture-based learning with team-based learning. Since spinning out of Duke-NUS in 2015, the company has gone on to work with universities such as Columbia University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and Yale-NUS College, as well as global healthcare MNCs such as Bayer, Johnson & Johnson and Merck.

“I’ve been excited to watch the progress the CognaLearn has made to enable faculty all over the world to teach using an active approach similar to what we developed at Duke-NUS. This award is a great recognition of the impact CognaLearn has made,” commented Prof Kamei.

Reimagine Education is an international competition which honours innovative educational techniques and initiatives that enhance student learning outcomes or employability.