links for 2009-01-15

  • Rapid changes facing the pharmacy profession recently led to a comprehensive review of the pharmacy course and the way aspects of the course are taught
    Avatars (digital people) use the mixers and tablet press
    Avatars (digital people) use the mixers and tablet press


    As part of this review, the faculty looked at the role of laboratory classes, including the tabletting practicals. Changes to these practicals were necessary for several reasons.

    There was also a strong administrative motivation for change. Tabletting practical sessions involved groups of eight students, with each group undertaking four three-hour prac sessions. Two tutors were required to supervise each small group and, with 240 students, this resulted in a timetabling nightmare.

  • A key initiative is the development of an interactive virtual tabletting research and development laboratory, available online through Second Life, which gives students the opportunity to complete a range of activities that are available 24/7. Developed by the faculty, this new virtual teaching model is a shared practice model involving ten leading pharmacy schools from around the world.

    Monash has purchased a closed-access island (not available to the public) in Second Life, a virtual world, available to staff and students at participating universities. The island has been christened ‘Pharmatopia’, and as the name suggests, aims to develop a pharmacy education ‘oasis’. The cost of the island is low and access for students is free.

  • Dr Peter Kohl has a big idea for the future of heart surgery.

    A patient needing an immediate operation will have a scan and in the 45 minutes it takes for blood test results to come back, surgeons will have simulated alternative operations using computer models, and know the best way to proceed.

    They will have investigated different surgical scenarios in virtual reality and will understand the effects these have on the individual's heart.

    For example, they will know the optimum place to fit stimulation leads that are tailored to improve that patient's heartbeat.

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