The development of interactive online learning tools for the study of Anatomy
The study of human anatomy is a core component of health science programs. However large student enrolments and the content-packed curricula associated with these programs have made it difficult for students to have regular access to cadaver laboratories. Methods: Adobe Flash MX TM was used with cadaver digital photographs and textbook-derived illustrations to develop interactive anatomy images that were made available to undergraduate health science students enrolled in first-year combined
... t-year combined anatomy and physiology (ANP) courses at the University of Ottawa. Colour coding was used to direct student attention, facilitate name-structure association, improve visualization of structure contours, assist students in the construction of anatomical pathways, and to reinforce functional or anatomical groupings. The ability of two-dimensional media to support the visualization of threedimensional structure was extended by developing the fade-through image (students use a sliding bar to move through tissues) as well as the rotating image in which entire organs such as the skull were photographed at eight angles of rotation. Finally, students were provided with interactive exercises that they could repeatedly try to obtain immediate feedback regarding their learning progress. Results: Survey data revealed that the learning and self-testing tools were used widely and that students found them relevant and supportive of their self-learning. Interestingly, student summative examination outcomes did not differ between those students who had access to the online tools and a corresponding student group from the previous academic year who did not. Conclusion: Interactive learning tools can be tailored to meet program-specific learning objectives as a cost-effective means of facilitating the study of human anatomy. Virtual interactive anatomy exercises provide learning opportunities for students outside the lecture room that are of especial value to visual and kinesthetic learners.