These 30 Days of September posts are supposed to be provocative. Not the kinds of provocation that comes from empty gestures and tired clichés (hopefully not, at least). But the kind of provocation that contain grains of truth (cliché-related humour).
So, fair warning, what I’m about to say may upset some people. But I’m really only trying to articulate what should be reasonably obvious by now to anyone with a mobile device and an Internet connection. So here goes.
A day will come soon, when students will no longer need anatomy taught in the traditional way: with endless lectures full of mind-numbing names and abstract mechanics. Students will no longer need to stay up late into the night to copy pictures of the muscles of the forearm into their notebooks. And teachers will be able to retire their overhead transparencies and PowerPoint slides.
No, we are but a whisper away from a complete revolution in the study of anatomy. And not just anatomy either, but physiology, pathology, kinesiology, biomechanics, and all the other ‘pure’ sciences that have been the backbone of physiotherapy student education for over a century.
One day soon, McDonalds, or Google, or Apple, or someone with a lot of money, will take up the challenge of compiling the definitive, totally immersive anatomy programme that will obliterate the need for its competitors, and form the backbone of anatomy learning in medical schools, physiotherapy programmes and a thousand other venues around the world. It will become the Microsoft Word equivalent of learning packages and obliterate the competition.
Students will no longer need to sit in the classroom and engage with lecturers in the same way. Courses will build their assessments around computer programmes and mobile device apps rather than the other way around. And soon we will come to realise the revolution that is already happening in student learning, when we accept that students no longer need to retain in their heads so many facts, but instead use their heads for thinking.
Knowledge of the origins and insertions of adductor longus will no longer be the currency that distinguishes an ‘expert’ practitioner from a novice, because a novice (or patient) with a portable device will have the expert’s advantage at their fingertips. (At this point I have clearly given up on cliché patrol). Knowledge of anatomical facts at the end of Year 1 will no longer be used as the arbitrary gateway into the physiotherapy profession, and educators will look for new ways to assess the student’s future potential.
Lest we think this day is still a long way away, take a look at some of the anatomy apps that are now widely available for Android and Apple devices. They are incredibly complex and becoming more and more detailed every day. They will change physiotherapy in ways that cannot be measured by the declining sales of Grey’s Anatomy textbooks.