UNSW Learning and Teaching Seminar 2012

From Embryology

W3 to W8: W3, Websites, Wikis, Who, What, Where, Why and Wait

Dr Mark Hill, School of Medical Sciences, Medicine, UNSW.

Both students and universities have embraced online educational technologies, but knowing that you have a new tool does not always mean that you know exactly how to use it. The seminar will discuss how content and students can be brought together in new and meaningful ways online. The examples I hope to share in the presentation will cover the 16 year development and evolution of UNSW online medical education resources. This presentation and additional information can be found here - http://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php?title=UNSW_Learning_and_Teaching_Seminar_2012

Connections in Learning and Teaching

  • Date: Tuesday 5th June 1 to 2pm
  • Venue: John Goodsell Building room LG19
  • Format: 40 minutes presentation and 20 minutes for Q&A and discussion.


  1. I will begin by giving a brief history of the transition to online embryology education.
  2. Then follow this with examples of the use of online lectures and practicals.
  3. Then show how students can do peer teaching through online project work.
  4. Finally a brief discuss self-directed learning through practical class support.

I may not get through all these 4 points, as discussion in this seminar is just as important. Don't worry, this page will remain online and I will add more explanatory text after the seminar has finished. Please feel free to email me if you have any specific questions or comments. --Mark Hill 18:14, 3 June 2012 (EST)

Online UNSW Resources

Links: ALTC 2011 Citation

Embryology Education

Fish n sticks
Welcome to internet.
DVD Format
Technology Timeline
Mark Hill.jpg

The changing technology environment we have experienced in the last 50 years, and more recently in the last 20 "internet years".

  • 1961 - Microfiche - miniaturise data, images and text.
  • 1962 - Slide carousel projector - transport and display content easily.
  • 1960s - Overhead projectors - prepared and flexible in-class.
  • 1977 - Apple computers.
  • 1981 - IBM computers.
  • 1982 - Microsoft MS-DOS.
  • 1990 - Powerpoint - electronic slides.
  • 1991 - Quicktime - multimedia platform for images and animations.
  • 1993 - Mosaic first web browser.
  • 1994 - Netscape Navigator web browser.
  • 1995 - Internet Explorer web browser.
  • 1996 - Flash - multimedia platform for images and animations.
  • 1998 - Google internet search.
  • 1998 - Blackboard course management system.
  • 2001 - Wikipedia online encyclopaedia running on Mediawiki.
  • 2002 - Moodle course management system.
  • 2004 - Facebook social networking service.
  • 2006 - Twitter microblogging service.
  • 2010 - iBooks e-book application for iPads.
  • 2012 - ??

1975 - 1995

  • Image cross-section "slices" of embryos at 2 key times in early development used to show developing anatomy.
    • Prepared by colleagues within the School in association with course note descriptions.
  • Canon Microfiche Reader used from 1975 to 1995 to view embryo section 49 images (7x7 matrix) in 3 sets:
  1. Week 4 Embryo - Stage 13 (2012)
  2. Week 8 Embryo - Stage 22 (2012)
  3. Week 8 Embryo - Selected Stage 22 images (2012)
  • Separate sets of labelled drawing corresponding to each section, these needed to be swapped each time with sections to view.
  • Posters and teaching models (models still used today) to supported this content.


Microfiche images:

  1. Transferred to an internal network.
  2. Then to a CDROM.
  3. Then to the web.

1997 - 1999

  • Internet website page established with electronic versions of serial images.
    • Medical students volunteered to help with labelling of these embryo sections.
    • Class notes were edited for descriptions to accompany each section.
  • Added cartoon animations to show how dynamic processes occurred. (2012)
    • Collaboration with researchers to show embryonic development. (2012)

2000 - 2007

Human Embryo (first 8 weeks)
  • 2003 - Innovative Teaching and Educational Technology 4 Fellowship (ITET4) Project on Cell Biology. (2012)
  • 2004 - New Medical program, reorganised structure of undergraduate teaching of basic sciences. (Science Magazine)
  • 2006 - Medicine Independent Learning Project 3D Embryo Models. (2012)
  • 2004 - 2009 - Entirely reorganised practical class structure and presentation to online formats. (2009)

2009 - 2012

New Wiki Format

Why Wikis?  
Mark Hill.jpg

The Software - Wikipedia had been around for a few years and many students were commonly using it initially as a dictionary rather than encyclopaedia. MediaWiki is the database software which runs this application on the web and is separate from the content hosted in Wikipedia.

The Support - MediaWiki is freely available, stable, regularly updated, and has a large group of developers maintaining and making many useful applications (extensions) within this software framework.

The Interaction - The format can be used interactively by teacher and student, both can construct, distribute and share knowledge. This can be done easily anytime and anywhere with an internet connection and editing can be restricted to only those designated users and hierarchically within those users. Importantly, an extension allows users access through the familiar UNSW Zpass system.

Visibility - You need to see what is being done! The embryology educational material has since its early development been on the internet and available to all. Learning management systems (LMS) are excellent for what they do, manage courses and students. My experience is that students don't generally like LMS and use it only because they have to. Most are LMS are commercial packages ($$) and their content is generally hidden (which can be important for security/copyright etc) and not easily shared.

Online Classes

Medicine large computer lab
Medicine practicals computer use (june 2012)
  • Both lectures and laboratories in Medicine and Science can be prepared and presented online. (Lecture, Practical)
  • Online textbooks are directly linked within the classes. (UNSW links)
  • Additional general notes are available for students to use as topic background. (2012)
  • An extensive glossary of terms is provided to aid understanding of terminology. (Glossary, mesoderm)
    • In development everything changes, even the names of structures!
  • Current related clinical and research data, movies and findings can be provided to show relevance of topics. (Research movies)
  • Quizzes available to test student knowledge (currently broken by a recent software update).
  • Content can also be modified and used for external education purposes. (Maternal-Fetal Medicine Trainees - Renal, Brain Awareness Week 2012)
The Developing Human, 9th edn.jpg

Online Textbook

Online textbook access 2011.jpg

Online textbook access (2011)


  • Medicine - lectures and practical classes.


Student Online Projects

Medicine - Independent Learning Projects

The Independent Learning Project (ILP) is intended to provide UNSW medical students with a period of in-depth study that engenders an approach to medicine that is constantly questioning and self-critical. (About ILP)

2006 ILP Movies  
Mark Hill.jpg

Shown below are the animations generated from the serial sections of a Human embryo (week 8, Carnegie stage 22). Click the quicktime or Flash lingo to see the rotating animations. Note Flash animations do not play on iPads.

Embryology - 22 Apr 2024    Facebook link Pinterest link Twitter link  Expand to Translate  
Google Translate - select your language from the list shown below (this will open a new external page)

العربية | català | 中文 | 中國傳統的 | français | Deutsche | עִברִית | हिंदी | bahasa Indonesia | italiano | 日本語 | 한국어 | မြန်မာ | Pilipino | Polskie | português | ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਦੇ | Română | русский | Español | Swahili | Svensk | ไทย | Türkçe | اردو | ייִדיש | Tiếng Việt    These external translations are automated and may not be accurate. (More? About Translations)

Stage22 ALL3d.jpg
Page | Play
 ‎‎GIT Stage 22
Page | Play
Page | Play
 ‎‎Stage 22 Neural
Page | Play
Page | Play
Page | Play

These 3d movies were part of the UNSW Medical degree Independent Learning Project (ILP) prepared by Aashish Kumar (2006).

2009 ILP Tutorial
Mark Hill.jpg Self-directed Learning.

This project was designed to allow students to work through heart development online using modules designed to teach at 3 levels of understanding, using the "traffic light" approach, (green is easiest, red is hardest). Each module through the same timeline and firstly identifies the learning objectives, then how long it will take to complete the module.

Cardiac Embryology     Begin Basic     Begin Intermediate     Begin Advanced  

This website is an educational resource designed to teach human cardiac embryology and is a Medicine ILP project carried out by Phoebe Norville. Heart development represents an important area of both embryological and clinical studies, predominantly due to the high incidence of congenital heart disease in the community. Therefore this website aims to teach cardiac embryology to students of all ages with varying degrees of knowledge in the area. The module contains three different levels:

  • Basic - begin here if you are new to heart embryology (high school level)
  • Intermediate - begin here if you have some background in heart embryology (university level)
  • Advanced - begin here after you have completed the earlier levels and have a good background in heart embryology (university level)

Basic Heart Development Timeline (weeks of development are shown w3 to w7)

Basic Heart Development Timeline.jpg

Science Group Projects

Medicine small class computer lab
  • Earlier group projects in the Science courses had been preparing a poster and a final presentation to the class.
  • The online projects also require presentations during their preparation and include a peer assessment process.
Project Pedagogy  
Mark Hill.jpg

These projects extend far beyond the original "research poster concept". It requires ongoing participation from both the teacher and the student, if you are not prepared to have an ongoing contribution, do not even consider setting this type of assessment.


  • Groups work independently throughout the semester on a specific topic the group has selected within the general topic set by the teacher.
  • Groups are assigned randomly by the teacher, do not want "friends" and "non-friends" groups.
  • Online work consists of the "project page" and the "discussion page" where student online interaction occurs.
  • Face-to-face time is allowed each week in the last 10 minutes of practical classes.
  • Projects are also presented to the class at a "work in progress" phase.
  • Each student carries out a "online written assessment" of all other projects late in the semester, when groups are near completion.
  • Groups then collate and use these "online written assessments" to edit their own project.


  • Designs specific assessment criteria.
  • Designs the general topic and allocates groups.
  • Provides handouts and brief tutorials each week in practical class time on: basic editing, copyright/plagiarism , reference sources and referencing and uploading images.
  • Provides regular in-class advice, online comments and email support to queries and feedback.
  • Analyses project "edit history" and "discussion" comments to identify individual students not contributing to the project.
  • Analyses the final submitted project providing specific online feedback.
  • Students also submit individual assessments each week online based upon the practical class they had just completed.
  • Listed below are the final group projects (4-5 students/group) submitted between 2009 and 2011 in embryology (ANAT2341) and cell biology (ANAT3231) courses.

Embryology Group Projects

Project Topics
Mark Hill.jpg How do you select a topic?

These project topics supplement content covered in lectures and practicals. Student can apply their understanding of concepts in development to topics that show relevance of embryology research to both basic sciences and clinical medicine.

  • Animal Models - Have been use historically to understand human development. More recently they have been used to understand human disease mechanisms and the potential application of stem cells. The students learn to identify the common features of development in different species as well as the differences between species.
  • Diagnostic Techniques - Applies an understanding of the tools available to understand abnormal development. Focussing on how the tools work, what they measure and what they show. The students learn to firstly identify features of normal development, before they can understand how (and why) abnormal development can be detected.
  • Abnormalities - These are a range of (human) developmental abnormalities with a range of developmental origins and affecting different systems. An understanding of normal development, from the course, is required to interpret specific abnormalities. The students learn to identify the main origins of abnormalities (genetic, environmental and unknown), the history of our understanding and how research has progressed in the topic area.
Student Contributions  
Mark Hill.jpg The assessment criteria requires "an ongoing contribution", how do you identify this?

All pages track all edits made. Using this "edit history" log student contributions can be logged and quantified. A quick audit of this log (simply pasted into a spreadsheet to sort, count and graph) does not identify directly what has been edited, though this can also be done both by see and comparison of content added/removed. It does identify the "low contributors" to both the project and discussion pages. An intergroup comparison can also identify whether some groups are having problems with the work.

An edit audit carried out early enough in the project process, allows both teacher and student to identify this issue.

An equal edit contribution would be shown by an even distribution of slices in the pie diagrams.

2011 Embryology Projects Student Edits

Peer Assessment  
Mark Hill.jpg How do you engage the students in the assessment process?

Students present their project in the class and have a set "soft deadline" for completing the project and at this deadline students stop the work on their own project. An individual assessment item is set where each student looks, using the assessment criteria, at all the other projects. This assessment is pasted on the project discussion page and the students own page. The following week, groups then collate these assessments and have the opportunity to improve their own project based upon these comments.

Note the process also makes the students look at the other projects and see what is "good" and "bad" and use this when they return to work on their own project.

Cell Biology Group Projects

A thumbnail for the early zygote test image, with caption.

Online Project support

At the beginning of the course students are led through simple tutorial exercises to become familiar with the process.

Histology Practical Class Support

ALTC logo.jpg

Virtual slides was not my work, but developed by many colleagues in Medicine supported by ALTC grant.

Students in both Science and Medicine classes now learn histology and pathology through the use of "virtual slides". In these classes students work through a series of unlabelled slides guided by an academic coordinator and supported by tutors. These slides are projected onto screens and monitors and students own computers to view the slides.

Students can access the slides outside of the class hours and now can also access self-directed learning support from specifically designed online resources.

Virtual Slides

  • Developed by colleagues in Medicine supported by ALTC grant. The repository includes virtual slide collections for Anatomy, Pathology, Botany/Ecology and Zoology (total ~600 slides). (Virtual Slides)
  • Requires zpass login. Unlabelled slides the students work through in practical classes.

Histology Slide Support

  • Background and self-directed learning for students working with virtual slides.
  • Additional information, cartoon images, animations, links and labelled histology slides.
    • Note - labelled histology slides are from a different set of images, so students still need to identify structures themselves in virtual slide set.
Medicine Foundations: Histology Introduction | Skin Histology
Medicine Health Maintenance: Pancreas Histology | Liver Histology | Gall Bladder Histology | Renal System Histology | Blood Vessel Histology
Medicine Ageing and Endings: Bone Histology | Colon Histology


  • ePublishing or digital publishing. (pdf, eBook, iBooks)
  • A potential explosion in this sector, everyone is a publisher.
    • how do you assess good (re)sources?
  • free software and can be freely published. (iBook Author, connect)
  • Downloadable and independent of internet connection, remote locations.

Concluding Remarks

  • Technology continues to evolve rapidly (format/software), though much of our own educational content moves more slowly.
  • Many times it is just doing things slightly differently to how you used to do them.
  • There is no better tool than watching students try and use your new whizz-bang educational resources.
  • You cannot afford to let the students get ahead of you with how they (expect to) do things, so direct them to how you use the technology.
  • Your material must be visible, if you want to reach a wider audience and have their input or collaboration.
Mark Hill.jpg By placing this seminar material online it can remain "visible".

The original seminar material can also now be supplemented. To explain those brief bullet points (you usually see on slides) that were used in the actual seminar. For example, several of these collapsable tables were added after the presentation, to help those who did not attend and may be reading this content for the first time.

  • Technology - In most cases be prepared to redo your material several times, just as you would when you review it anyway.
  • Slightly different to how you used to - already changed your overheads to slides, and then later to powerpoint. Each was limited in interaction but easy to present. There is a reason they call it "death by powerpoint".
  • Watch your students - See how they use your technology, what you thought was obvious is sometimes only obvious to you.
  • Direct them - Provide them with tutorial materials that they can use by themselves. Put aside time to demonstrate how to do things in class. Be hands on and show individuals how to solve their problems.
  • Cross-discipline - Collaboration is sometimes hard to do, but puts the educational material into the broader context of biomedical eduction.
  • Visible - The longer that it is there, the more people will see it. Hidden material is just that, hidden and not educational, I hope the irony is clear in this (temporarily) hidden table.

Why wait to begin your online experience.

--Mark Hill June 2012

Glossary Links

Glossary: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Numbers | Symbols | Term Link

Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, April 22) Embryology UNSW Learning and Teaching Seminar 2012. Retrieved from https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/UNSW_Learning_and_Teaching_Seminar_2012

What Links Here?
© Dr Mark Hill 2024, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G