Queen Mary University of London pioneers Google Glass in surgery lessons

QMUL’s medical school, Barts, live-streaming its teaching sessions

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The Independent Online

Queen Mary University of London has become the first university in the UK to teach its medical students using Google Glass.

QMUL’s medical school, Barts, intends to use the technology primarily for surgical teaching - allowing students to watch proceedings live from their mobile devices and laptops.

Students will also be able to interact with the surgeons while they are operating, making it possible for them to ask questions in real-time.

Virtual Medics, a group consisting of consultant surgeons and medical students from the university, first used Google Glass earlier this year when removing cancerous tissue from a 78-year-old man.

13,000 people viewed the teaching session, which was live-streamed in over 115 counties.

Victoria Buckle, a third-year medical student at Queen Mary, said: “I was really able to experience the procedure from the surgeon’s perspective and gain a deep understanding of what an operation entails.

“It was an incredible opportunity to experience surgery in real-time, while receiving consultant teaching via Google Glass and peer-to-peer teaching through the Virtual Medic’s chatroom."

Although Queen Mary is currently the only university to introduce Google Glass into its curriculum, other universities are also opting for digital methods of teaching.

For example, both Kings and Edinburgh are now using computerised 3D anatomy tables to show their students how to remove and replace organs and tissues.

However, there are concerns that these new methods of teaching may reduce students’ understanding of medical procedures.

Abhilasha Gurung, a medical student at Birmingham University, said: “Google Glass is interesting but I don’t think it can ever replace being in surgery and learning clinical skills and doing examinations. Essentially, you just need to practice and have first-hand experience.”

Harrison Carter, co-chair of the British Medical Association’s Medical Students, added: “These initiatives shouldn’t be used as an alternative to medical students attending theatre but instead be used as an adjunct to already established methods of teaching.

“Medicine is a dynamic profession and the training of future practitioners should be the same.”

Queen Mary hopes to expand its use of Google Glass into more medical modules and help other universities who are interested in using the initiative in the future. 

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