Every once in a while you come across something truly remarkable. This is one of those times.
I’ve known about Ivala Learn and Dr. Taimur Alavi for several months and have been looking forward to sharing his tremendous work. In very timely fashion, VIN announced an exciting partnership with his company this week, which means that most of you already have access and may not know it. To me, this is already one of the star features of being a VIN member. For more information, VIN members should see Dr. Paul Pion’s recent post.
Below is an introduction to this content via an interview with Taimur, a UK veterinarian and founder of Ivalalearn.
Q: What is Ivalalearn and how did this get started?
Ivalalearn is a company specializing in the creation of 3D, interactive training content for the veterinary community. We also do 3D printing for clinical and educational needs, and have some human medical projects as well.
In terms of our training content, we reconstruct 2D CT & MRI data into 3D and plug this into an interactive environment that a learner can access from a desktop or laptop browser. This means they can spin the 3D structures around, zoom, hide and interact with the structures they see to get further information.
Whilst applying for neuro residencies, I found it frustrating that we didn’t have any good 3-dimensional learning resources to understand clinical neuroanatomy, especially given the fact that we have this wonderful 3-dimensional data. I couldn’t fathom why no one was using the data for educational purposes. So I started learning about 3D modelling and reconstructing these regions myself. The more I did this the more I could see uses in other fields as well, and I ended up putting my residency plans to one side to explore this more. The rest is history.
Here’s an example of some of our muscle content that runs directly within the browser (there’s nothing to download):
Q: OK, but what does that do for me as a practicing veterinarian?
Our patients are 3-dimensional, and the problems we deal with on a daily basis as a practitioner need us to engage with them that way.
I remember the first time I had a GDV. I read the wad of text in my surgical textbook, and still didn’t feel like I had a clear grasp of which way I was going to need to de-rotate the stomach once I was in. I’ve always loved neurology and at one point had my heart set on a residency.
I found the same frustration trying to explain the cranial nerve reflexes to students or colleagues–it felt like a futile exercise if there wasn’t a clear understanding of the 3D neuroanatomy. This is understandable considering that prior to Ivalalearn, we had been studying these concepts using 2-dimensional resources, such as text, diagrams, and video.
The traditional resources added an unneeded layer of difficulty to the learning experience. Concepts that should be straightforward to understand, commit to memory and ultimately utilize for the benefit of our patients, aren’t.
Our ethos is about improving your understanding to help make you a more confident, effective practitioner. We want what should be simple, to be simple.
Q: Who is this content aimed at?
At the moment our content is heavily anatomy focused. Students are the ones feeling the pain the most from the traditional textbook materials, and as anatomy is so important for everything that follows, it was the obvious place for us to start. They’re already getting huge benefit from it.
We’ve also had a lot of interest from general practitioners as well as specialists, especially in the imaging, surgical, and rehabilitation fields. Our muscle content is particularly popular.
Q: Where do you see it going?
Anatomy’s important of course, but its importance stems from the fact that it has clinical relevance. My real interest is seeing how we can take the content a step further to tie in deeper clinical understanding.
Our echo simulator is one example of this. You can use either the keyboard or your mobile phone to control your ultrasound probe, and slice through a canine heart in any plane, seeing the section you’re taking on in 3D within the body and in 2D as you would on an ultrasound screen:
Canine echocardiography simulator mobile phone – 3D Veterinary Learning from VIN and IVALA®learn on Vimeo.
We’ve also developed a walkthrough mode, whereby instead of just dumping a learner into some content, we can walk them through the important parts of the content, or perhaps explain a particular concept. Here’s an example demonstrating the basics of abdominal radiology.
The Walkthrough feature – 3D Veterinary Anatomy & Learning IVALA® from VIN and IVALA®learn on Vimeo.
Q: What about mobile and tablets?
People have been using it with some success, but we’re not really recommending this at the moment. To run well the content needs some optimization on our end, as well as the mobile browsers catching up with the desktop browsers. In the next half year or so we expect the situation to be very different.
Q: Tell us about pricing and the new VIN partnership.
We’re extremely excited at the moment. We’ve just joined with the Veterinary Information Network, which is a huge online community of veterinarians, with a phenomenal database of learning resources.
This means that for all veterinary students and interns, residents, and faculty working in teaching institutions, our 3D content is completely free (VIN is and always has been free for this population). We’re thrilled that we can do this for the demographic that needs this the most (students), and to be able to offer it globally, regardless of financial status. It’s available for all VIN members, so veterinarians can access it with their normal VIN subscription. Also, for those new graduates, VIN is available at a significant discount.
If you have a VIN membership, simply go to www.vin.com and head to VINdex to find 3D Learning. If you are a veterinarian or other individual without VIN membership, you can access the content at ivalalearn.com. An annual subscription is currently £44.99 (roughly 60 USD).
About the Interview
Taimur qualified from Bristol vet school in 2009. After starting down the internship & residency path, frustration with the difficulty in learning and teaching complex anatomical & clinical concepts led him to found IVALA, a technology company creating interactive 3D learning content for the veterinary community. IVALA is proud to have recently become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Veterinary Information Network.