CyberSurgeons (Online Modules and Activities, Wheeling Jesuit University/Center for Educational Technologies)by

The American Biology Teacher


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The american biology Teacher classroom media reviews 361

CyberSurgeons (Online Modules and Activities, Wheeling Jesuit University/Center for

Educational Technologies)

Where can you find online modules that integrate anatomy, human physiology, and the clinical-trials process? At CyberSurgeons, of course! CyberSurgeons (Figure 1) is a fully equipped website that offers case-based and problem-based learning modules for high school students and teachers of biology, health, anatomy and physiology, career guidance, and other health-related courses. The goals of Cyber Surgeons include motivating students to explore and learn, assisting teachers, and creating an awareness of careers in the medical fields. By immersing students in the implementation of clinical-trial processes, Cyber­

Surgeons offers an engaging, collaborative way to teach anatomy and physiology concepts.

The case-based learning modules (CBL) are emotionally and academically engaging.

For example, the module “Counseling an

HIV Clinical Trial Participant” brings students into the life of David, a 15-year-old male who has contracted HIV. David is participating in a clinical trial of an HIV drug. Students take on the role of the clinical-trial program coordinator and must answer a list of questions that have been sent by the patient’s parents.

Some questions are straightforward, such as “What does Phase III mean?” while some are emotionally charged, such as “There is no risk to this, is there? We just want to make sure there is no risk for David.” By placing students in “real-world situations” where they are required to solve problems that may not have a single answer, the case-based learning modules build critical-thinking skills, in addition to knowledge.

The online problem-based learning (PBL) modules start off with simple, but increasingly challenging, tasks that help participants become familiar with clinical-trial protocol. Students are required to gather information, analyze text, and make strategic decisions, while developing and presenting various clinical-trial proposals. Each lesson begins with a short introductory paragraph and a set of clear and concise instructions that quickly gets students started on goaloriented tasks. The tasks are self-contained; all resources can be found on the Cyber­

Surgeons website. Additionally, suggestions are presented for extension activities that take students outside the walls of the classroom if teachers wish to implement them.

One of the primary foci of the Cyber­

Surgeons project is to present students with various medical career pathways besides that of traditional “physician.” A side panel on the website highlights a variety of medical professions, their average salaries, degree requirements, and descriptions. Students can learn all about audiologists, cardiovascular technicians, respiratory therapists, and many other health professionals. If that is not sufficient to engage students in health or medical research careers, CyberSurgeons offers a live research mission for a relatively low cost to schools. The research missions take place virtually. Students interact with a real “chief medical officer,” played by an educator. Students take on the role




R o b e R t a b at o R s k y, D e pa R t m e n t e D i t o R

The American Biology Teacher, vol. 75, no. 5, pages 361–362. issn 0002-7685, electronic issn 1938-4211. ©2013 by national association of biology Teachers. all rights reserved. request permission to photocopy or reproduce article content at the University of california Press’s rights and Permissions web site at doi: 10.1525/abt.2013.75.5.13

Figure 1. CyberSurgeons. 362 The american biology Teacher volUme 75, no. 5, may 2013 of a National Institutes of Health medical team that must properly handle a medical emergency while traveling on a ship up the

Amazon River.

The beauty of CyberSurgeons is that it does not require teachers to be even remotely familiar with clinical-trial protocols. It can be a learning experience for both teacher and students. Of course, teacher resources and answer manuals are readily available. To get started with freely accessible PBL and CBL modules, as well as the plethora of anatomical, medical, pedagogical, and career-related resources, visit http://www.cybersurgeons. net/resources/. You can also e-mail Manetta

Calinger, one of the key project and curriculum developers for CyberSurgeons, at If you are interested in learning more about live simulations, visit


The author is supported by the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education.

Remy Dou

Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow

National Science Foundation 4201 Wilson Boulevard

Arlington, VA 22230 roberTa baTorsKy, an experienced high school and college biology teacher, is adjunct faculty at middlesex county college, edison, nJ. roberta has a b.s. and an m.s. in biology. her address is 25 hinkle dr., bordentown, nJ 08505; e-mail: roberta welcomes submissions of classroom media for review in ABT.

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