The Lady has been working on a project for a while now, which led to her signing up for a course on FutureLearn titled ‘Bioprinting – 3D Printing Body Parts’. The course was organised by the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials, University of Wollongong and facilitated by Prof Gordon Wallace.*
This was the Lady’s first time hearing about FutureLearn and she was impressed by the courses on offer, most of which are provided at no cost to participants. All you need do is sign up. Upon completion of at least half of the course, participants may choose to purchase a Statement of Participation. The Lady did complete the course and will be purchasing hers at a later date (Her excuse? Falling oil prices and forex shortage in Nigeria).
The course ran for four weeks (23rd November – 14th December 2015). The first week was an introductory session, which introduced the principles, methods and materials. Week 2 dealt with putting stuff in the body. Current research on bioactives was the focus of week 3. In the final week, we covered regulation and ethics, which the Lady had been looking forward to. Lecture materials were a mix of videos and texts with discussion threads for each topic. What the Lady loved most was that there was a transcript for the videos. The Lady had been concerned about how much data would be consumed during the duration of the course so having a transcript was a huge relief.
Participants were active and the Lady learnt a lot from reading through the discussion threads for each week. The course is still available indefinitely for those who may be interested, but the facilitator may not be around to join in any further discussions.
As someone who remains fascinated with the concept of 3D printing, bioprinting provides a higher level of fascination. The possibilities are huge whatever the arguments against bioprinting are. Bioprinting will hopefully serve as a viable alternative to organ transplants. Think of how many lives could be saved if body parts were available on demand.
Kudos to the FutureLearn team. The Lady will certainly be signing up for more courses in the future. Learning never stops.
*Director of the Intelligent Polymer Institute, University of Wollogong