In collaboration with the Buonacorsi Foundation, Eolas Technologies, and Iomas Research, multi-year beta testings were conducted at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and at the University of Texas-Tyler. Outside of higher education, AnatLab can also be used as a resource for high schools, as well as for online courses.
Beta Testing of AnatLab Online Atlas in UIC Medical Gross Anatomy - Dr. Pescitelli
The AnatLab online atlas has played an ever-increasing role in the anatomy education of first year medical students at the University of Illinois College of Medicine since its introduction into the course in 2008. The course’s students are enrolled on the atlas’ site on the first day of class and the software’s anatomy consultant/co-designer, Dr. Maurice Pescitelli, leads a plenary demonstration session to familiarize students with navigation and capabilities of the site. Aside from the more formal uses of the site (see bullet points below, e.g., adjuncts to the study of axial/sagittal/coronal CT/MR images, embryology lectures, quizzes, MCQ and laboratory examinations), students are encouraged to approach use of the site in a non-goal-oriented manner, e.g., exploring the images to see how many structures they can identify and then following the respective Wikipedia link to relevant text and figures from the public domain edition of Gray’s Anatomy. Such a quasi-gaming aspect appeals greatly to this generation of tech-savvy students recreationally acclimated to the likes of PlayStation and Wii. Regardless of the context of its employment, two main pedagogical goals prevail: 1) instruction of spatial anatomy (important for understanding infection spread along fascial planes and the impact of space-occupying masses) and 2) training in the ability to apply anatomic knowledge to the reading of CT/MR images as students transition to the clinics.
Salient features of the atlas’ employment include:
• introduction and demonstration by Dr. Pescitelli for 200-member year 1 medical class – all students are enrolled for access and instructed in its use and capabilities
• selected images of axial sections used for 10 comprehensive quizzes covering entire body (~30 images total)
• selected axial images used for 3 MCQ exams (~6 images total)
• selected images employed in Embryology lectures to illustrate developmental points (e.g., disposition of diaphragm, cardiac and GI spatial relationships, limb rotation/compartmentalization)
• employed in conjunction with study of assigned CT/MR images in lab that are key to clinically important regions:
- root of neck - pelvis
- heart chambers - knee
- stomach bed - shoulder
- kidneys / psoas sheath
Beyond the first year medical school course, AnatLab is employed in the laboratory in a year 4 elective course (Special Dissections in Anatomy). There, it is used to dovetail the dissections with CT/MR axial images that students encounter in the clinical setting – students access the images in lab on a laptop computer during the process of dissection.
AnatLab has been used in the arena of public relations, most recently for the National State Legislators’ Lab Day, hosted in June 2010 by UIC College of Medicine, during which an overview of cardiac anatomy was presented to a group of state legislators from across the nation.
Expanded implementation of AnatLab in the medical curriculum will include use of generated 3D reconstructions of selected organ systems (e.g., GI) and body regions (e.g., lower limb muscular compartments and the pelvis). This approach will facilitate translation of the knowledge of regional anatomy gleaned from regional dissection study to a more holistic understanding of entire organ systems. Additionally, with the eventual installation of appropriate technology in the dissection laboratory, it will be possible for students to access large-screen images of sections or 3D reconstructions of the human body while dissecting and studying cadavers. In this manner, students will better learn the spatial relationships essential to progression to clinical study.
Beta testing of AnatLab has also been conducted at the University of Texas at Tyler (UT Tyler). UT Tyler Anatomy and Physiology course instructors Suzi Pundt and John Placyk were asked to use AnatLab in the teaching of lecture and laboratory courses. As the beta test progressed, they provided written feedback from their students via survey results as well as verbal progress reports documenting how AnatLab was used in their courses. Also, iPads were distributed for use in the labs for viewing AnatLab's 3D models. iPads were donated by Mike Doyle.
For the nursing school's anatomy curriculum, a 3D organ system approach was preferable. The professors helped determine 3D views of anatomical structures that would be useful in a typical nursing or allied health curricula. The nursing school's anatomy curriculum, an undergraduate program, expected a minimal level of prior anatomical knowledge and used organ systems groupings, often represented in 3D models, to begin building the nursing students' anatomical knowledge. This was unlike the medical school's anatomy curriculum which was structured by body regions. Axial sections, as seen in the AnatLab system, were extremely useful at the medical school level, especially in the understanding of medical diagnostic images like CT scans and MRI scans.
Because many physiological concepts are at the cellular level, it became clear that a histological component to AnatLab would be extremely advantageous. A sample of histological slides were viewed using the upcoming histological component of AnatLab (AnatLab histology product).