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Simplifying the Selection of 3D Anatomy Resources

Four must-have features to boost student engagement and comprehension

July 18, 2019

With the emergence of 3D virtual anatomy applications in the academic world, educators are beginning to rethink how they teach anatomy and what resources they utilize. Anatomy courses are becoming more difficult to teach, as a result, these decisions get harder to make as the years go on. As an anatomy educator, how can you determine which 3D human anatomy software will provide you and your students with the resources required to succeed, both academically and professionally? Before attempting to answer that question, let’s take a look at some of the issues you may currently be facing as anatomy educators.

Today’s anatomy educators are struggling with:

  • Student comprehension of 3D anatomical spatial relationships and course concepts
  • Limited access to anatomical and dissection resources
  • Restrictive funding to purchase new resources
  • Unengaged students within lecture and lab sessions

We’ve all been in similar situations; we know how it feels. At times it may not seem like it, but there is a more effective way to teach your anatomy courses, regardless of the academic level and learning objectives at stake. Today’s virtual anatomy applications have a number of advantages, when integrated correctly within the curriculum. Choosing the right resources to supplement your anatomy courses does take some skill and many of you may not be familiar with the new technology. That’s OK! To get you headed in the right direction, we’ve listed out some of the features you should be looking for in your virtual anatomy solutions and how these features impact the student comprehension of 3D anatomical features and spatial relationships.

Real Anatomical Visualizations

Many of the 3D virtual anatomy applications on the market today utilize modeled, computer generated  anatomical volumes. Visually these are very appealing, but anatomy is rarely so neat and tidy as it is portrayed in these apps. When it comes to comprehending the anatomical relationships and structures, as well as preparing students for post-academic success, you need the real thing. Real 3D human anatomy software provides students with an inside look of the actual anatomy visualized from patient medical imaging data, as pictured below. These types of software enable students to pick and choose from hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of examples of anatomical volumes. Utilizing real human anatomy also gives students experience with variants, pathology, injuries, disease, and more. Some software’s even allow you to upload your own MRI or CT scan into the software to virtually dissect and explore, making your instructional materials infinitely expandable.

Real Human Anatomy rendered in 3D

Instructor and Student Accessibility

Another component to add to your research criteria is accessibility. Many instructors shift between multiple classrooms and buildings; will they be able take the virtual anatomy resources with them or is the resource tied to a single classroom? Can you use the resource in both lecture and lab sessions? What about the increasing number students in online programs? These are all great questions to consider for your current curriculum. However, you should also consider the plans you have for your curriculum years down the line. Curricula and teaching styles are changing quickly and will continue to do so.  Ensure that your students will have access to anatomical resources in any variety of learning environments, teaching styles, and locations.

Scalability of Solutions

One of the more common aspects holding back instructors from integrating 3D human anatomy software is lack of funding. Many see the price tag of a virtual dissection table and immediately exclude themselves from being able to make meaningful investments in virtual anatomy resources. For instructors and institutions who struggle with resource and funding restrictions, look for a solution that is scalable to meet your budget. While some 3D virtual anatomy solutions start out at close to six figures, there are also some that start out at a fraction of that cost. With that being said, make sure that you are confident the virtual anatomy solution will be able to scale alongside your growing curriculum, student body, and (hopefully) your budget as you continue to expand your curriculum. Many overlook these aspects, only to be left disappointed when they’re unable to build upon their virtual anatomy resources.

The Fun Factor

Finally, and arguably the most important aspect is whether or not your students will engage with the new resource. The most effective learning is performed through active learning, when students are truly engaged and interacting with the course material. If your students don’t enjoy using the virtual anatomy software, none of the aspects we talked about above matter. A few of the virtual anatomy features out there that have helped engage anatomy students are 3D projection screens for in-class dissections, iPad and game controller integration during labs, and even incorporating virtual dissection competitions/races to locate an anatomical structure. No matter what solution you select to augment your anatomy courses, make sure it is engaging.

Hopefully this gets you moving in the right direction as you begin or continue your research of 3D virtual anatomy resources. If you’re interested in learning more about integrating virtual anatomy software into your curriculum, get started with the three easy steps below by scheduling a demonstration:

1. Learn what resources will maximize your student engagement and comprehension of 3D anatomical spatial relationships

2. Work with our team to determine your student and facility requirements

3. Tailor a BodyViz 3D anatomy solution to your existing anatomy curriculum and facility

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Helpful Links: 

Video - One-Minute BodyViz Intoduction

Article - Adapting to Decreasing Availability of Cadaveric Specimens

Case Study - Blue Mountain College

Case Study - University of Mississippi

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