Teaching with 3D anatomy tools, such as the one shown here, can greatly improve learning outcomes.

Teaching with 3D anatomy tools

The impact on faculty and student learning outcomes are greatly expanded when 3D anatomy tools come into play

How is it possible that someone who has been involved in developing 3D anatomy technologies for 12 years took 7 of those years to find a way to teach with it effectively?

I prided myself on being a great teacher. In every possible sense – a good explainer, an innovator, a student advocate. And I was killing it in the lecture hall and in the lab, teaching in the ways that I learned from my great teaching mentors. So how was it that after 7 years of working with 3D anatomy technologies as a product developer (Cyber-Anatomy/VIVED Learning), I wasn’t really using the technology that much in my teaching?

I think a part of me was afraid of technology failures. I knew that running a huge simulation over the web just fails sometimes. I was also discouraged when I saw students starting to work with the software themselves. They clicked around aimlessly, and turned to ask the exact same question they asked in the cadaver lab – “What am I supposed to see here?” So I held back my trust and kept doing what I’d always been doing – PowerPoint-based lectures and dissection labs.

That is, until I had a problem in my dissection labs that I just couldn’t fix.

eSchool Media Contributors
Dr. Darren Hoffmann is an Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology at The University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. He was a paid consultant for Cyber-Anatomy (now VIVED Learning), helping to develop their 3D anatomy models. He also was contracted by Gale Interactive: Human Anatomy to develop the activities described in this article. Dr. Hoffmann receives no royalties for sales of these products and continues to do research in the area of 3D anatomy pedagogy using multiple platforms. His work on 3D Anatomy Lab Videos is published in Anatomical Sciences Education. He is also presenting a poster on evaluating 3D anatomy apps this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Association of Anatomists in Orlando, FL.