Using the Clinical Key Student App to foster reading skills

  • Group size: 40 (approximately)
  • Teaching level: Postgraduate
  • Division: Medical Sciences (Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics)
  • Subject: Anatomy
  • Tools: Clinical Key Student App


The Digitally Supported Inclusive Teaching Toolkit focuses on the use of Oxford-supported digital tools. However, this particular case study explores how some local digital tools can also be used to support digitally supported inclusive teaching practices.


Clinical Anatomist Sharmila Rajendran discusses how she has used the web-based and mobile educational App Clinical Key Student to support the development of reading skills amongst first year graduate entry and BM1 students at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG).

Clinical Key Student is an interactive application that allows students and medical professionals to access collections of clinical textbooks, atlases, videos, animations, and illustrations. Users can create their own bookshelves, bookmarks, reading lists and flashcards. In addition, content can be filtered according to topics of interest and/or specialities. The app also includes read aloud features that can help students to familiarise with the terminology and pronunciation of key anatomical concepts. Furthermore, speed can be customised for better understanding. Clinical Key Student also provides a wide range of built in questions to promote learning.


Sharmila uses this app to produce materials for the students and to prepare her lectures. For example, when creating slides, not only links to books can be embedded in the power point presentation but also links to specific chapter sections or illustrations, facilitating learning in terms of accessibility and usability. In this light, students can be directed to the right sources and focus on essential content. When reflecting upon her rationale to integrate the Clinical Key Student app into her instruction, Sharmila states that her main motivation is ‘to include all the students to access the materials, making inclusive teaching materials, so anyone can access them. This has given me the opportunity to connect with my students. I understand we have the majority of textbooks and references we give to our students, but how many of them go back and use the textbooks? When I give a particular section of a textbook, I save them time’. Furthermore, she says ‘I know we upload the materials, and we provide everything beforehand, but I know there are students who struggle with learning difficulties, so for them I would suggest the read aloud option’. Additionally, by selecting different questions from the bank, which can be filtered by content and their level of difficulty, Sharmila can optimise time creating engaging materials for lectures and tutorials.

In terms of the students’ views about the app, Sharmila states ‘they find it useful, especially to write essays as they get plenty of information in one resource’. When asked for feedback on the app, an BM1 student responded: ‘I find Clinical Key Student really good for accessing textbooks – I usually use it for physiology and pharmacology textbooks, especially over the vacation when I didn’t have access to the physical copies. SOLO is also really useful for accessing textbooks, so sometimes I use Clinical Key less and SOLO more’ (sic).


One limitation, however, is that the questions are not linked to the course syllabus, so it is necessary to find those that are relevant to the students. In terms of images, illustrations and videos, a practical characteristic is that the copyright information can be directly included in presentations and files.


Sharmila also highlights students and medical professionals can engage with the app to scaffold learning. Sharmila plans to continue using Clinical Key Student with more students and adapt her teaching as the application evolves. Her goal is to connect with the students, optimise time and foster fundamental understanding of knowledge in the field of anatomy.

Contributed by: Sharmila Rajendran, Clinical Anatomist, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) 

Teaching level:




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