How to teach neuroscience online
It is not an easy feat to teach neuroscience and it is even harder when teachers and students can’t be at school.
In collaboration with the French Institute of Education (IFé) and with Sébastien Valette, a CNRS researcher in image and geometry processing at Creatis Lab in Lyon, the three contributors Sandrine Beaudin, Lycée Saint-Exupéry, Marseille, Julien Cartier, Lycée Carnot, Cannes, and Philippe Cosentino, Lycée Rouvière, Toulon, developed an online version of the EduAnat2 software for virtual teaching brain sciences to high school students during the COVID-19 lockdown.
During the 2-months lockdown in spring, the biggest challenge for high school teachers was to keep the students motivated. Engaging online courses helped to prevent students from dropping out of school during that hard time. However, many students complained that experimental activities during biology and geology lessons did not offer them enough interest or excitement to keep them connected to the school. Homework was done on their own - not in groups or pairs - and student activities assignments from documents or on videoconferences sound like monologues.
Therefore, the challenge was to restore social dialogue between students and assistance from the teacher. Thus, the tree contributors focused their project on developing online solutions with functionalities that would facilitate collaborative work between students and teachers and so offering an environment closest to that of the classroom.
The French Institute for Education (IFE) has been efficiently gathering the contributors around EduAnat2. The three contributors are from different places in France and were used to virtual meetings even before the lockdown. Hence, the online version of EduAnat2 was planned and released relatively fast thanks to the already existing workflow.
The contributors decided to respond urgently to this request. Within less than three weeks, they developed an online version of the software EduAnat2. This online version allows students to virtually work on real anatomical and functional MRIs. The software is freely available online and a multi-lingual version is in the works and will be released soon.
Mid-April, all French teachers in high schools were able to work remotely with their students on real MRI scans and study several brain functions interactively with them. Several learning situations were proposed. For example, using a simple link (URL) to share with the student, it was possible to share the comparison between two anatomical MRI scans: an MRI of a healthy subject with an MRI of a subject suffering from a tumour, etc.
In short, the contributors enabled teachers to carry out real practical activities and sessions remotely using this tool and the associated MRI image bank.
You can try out the program here: http://acces.ens-lyon.fr/logiciels/EduAnat2Online/
You find the associated MRI image bank here: http://acces.ens-lyon.fr/acces/thematiques/neurosciences/outils-numeriques/eduanat2-et-anapeda/anapeda-la-banque-dimages-du-logiciel-eduanat2