Student’s Perspective: 3 Reasons Why We Learn Best from a Virtual Cadaver Lab
May 18, 2021
Students are feeling robbed of their education since having to navigate to online and hybrid learning. As a former anatomy student, I can say this from first hand experience concluded from conversations with my peers. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the definition of “hands-on” is beginning to embody a new meaning that stretches to fulfill educators’ and students’ needs. There is a demand for educational software that is customizable, high-quality, and delivers realistic experiences. BodyViz has been evolving this sort of virtual hands-on experience for 15 years.
I have taken advanced high school Anatomy courses; healthcare professional training; and extensive higher education classes on Anatomy, Physiology, Biology, Kinesiology, and Pathology. Throughout my experiences of learning anatomy using textbook images, plastic models, real anatomy lab dissections, and virtual dissection software - there are 3 clear benefits as to why using 3D anatomy software is necessary in the academic world today.
1. Understanding Dimensional Relationships
Flat textbook images do not effectively communicate to students the actual depth and geography of tissues and organs that are vital to a comprehensive understanding of anatomy. BodyViz’s 3D anatomy software uses real MRI and CT scans by taking individual slices and stacking them similar to a deck of cards. The scan slices are then converted from 2D pixels into 3D voxels creating true, unmanipulated 3D anatomical volumes that students use to visualize dimensional relationships. While complex in nature, the user-friendly interface enables students to easily navigate their way through real patient anatomy.
2. Realistic, Unmanipulated Examples
Anatomy is rarely neat and simple. Real anatomy is riddled with natural variations-- body types, gender, health status, patient age, existing conditions, and abnormal pathology. Using real patient data from actual MRI and CT scans in anatomy curriculum provides students with an accurate understanding of the diversity of the human body. Most other anatomy models are replicated on a healthy adult with ideal and unrealistic anatomy. By using real anatomy software, students can apply their knowledge sooner and experience real life examples of natural variations.
3. Engaging (and Fun) Learning
Just as hard as it is for students to stay engaged in courses, we know it is also hard for educators to brainstorm ways to make online learning interactive. BodViz is the solution. The 3D virtual dissection enables you to explore structures and systems by removing and cutting away anatomy - just as you would in a traditional cadaver dissection. In BodyViz, the tools of a dissection are a mouse, keyboard, or controller. Unlike traditional dissections, the user has the ability to modify, adjust, and remove a cut at any time. For example, if the cut misses the target structure, the user can select “undo” to try again. With virtual anatomy, cutting too deep or accidentally dissecting into an organ does not damage the specimen. Users simply press a button to return the anatomy to its original state. After a cut is made, the viewpoint of the anatomy can be easily manipulated from anterior to posterior, lateral to medial, or any combination, easily revealing structures that are obscured by bones or interconnected systems.
Students are also able to label structures with virtual pushpins via the annotation feature. One click opens a BodyViz annotation window that can reveal labels, relevant links, images, and comments by the student or instructor. The user can explore the marked annotation’s location from unlimited viewpoints, cycling through different tissue types, or placing cuts to expose the surrounding structures. The 3D software makes dissections easy and interesting for students to navigate with the ability to carry dissections in their backpack so they can practice anywhere. The Anatomy Content Modules are delivered fully prepared and ready to use alongside existing instructional resources. Instructors also have the option to tailor the BodyViz solution to enhance their existing instructional resources as well.
Throughout my experiences in the variety of anatomy courses I took throughout High School, as well as in my college career while on the pre-med path, having access to the virtual anatomy platform made the courses more fun and engaging for me and my peers, but also enhanced our understanding of three-dimensional relationships to better prepare us for the workplace.
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