Cutting edge CD to show a slice of life

The An@tomedia team: (from left) Dr Norm Eizenberg, Ms Priscilla Barker,
Associate Professor Christopher Briggs and Dr Ivica Grkovic

Medical students can now dissect a human body - and then put it back together to dissect again.

Using An@tomedia - a new multimedia teaching tool developed at the University of Melbourne - students are now able to explore interactively anatomy from multiple perspectives.

The An@tomedia CD was developed in the University's Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology by Dr Norman Eizenberg, Associate Professor Christopher Briggs, Ms Priscilla Barker and Dr Ivica Grkovic. Software development was carried out by the University's Multimedia Education Unit.

A comprehensive and self-contained program, An@tomedia takes an innovative approach to anatomy teaching which complements the new problem-based, undergraduate medical curriculum introduced at the University this year.

Professor Briggs says that An@tomedia has taken up the challendge facing medical educators worldwide - the need to reduce dissection and tutorial time in an incresingly crowded medical curriculum.

"One of its major strengths is the flexibility it offers students," he says. "It provides them with a detailed resource to use before, during and after practical and tutorials so they can be time-efficent, focusing on areas of clinical significance and anatomy relevant to practical procedures. It doesn't presume prior knowledge of anatomy; an optional text enables exploration at all levels of difficulty".

Eight modules will eventually be available in An@tomedia - the head, neck, back, upper limb, lower limb, abdomen, pelvis and thorax. Dr Eizenberg says that with the eight modules, An@tomedia will represent the complete Anatomy course - about 300 hours of intensive teaching.

However, he points out, Ms Barker spent a minimum on 20 hours on the dissection for each frame on the CD. "Medical students can't spend that amount of time on dissection," he says.

According to Proffessor Briggs, the major market for An@tomedia is anatomy students worldwide, as well as for medical postgraduate and continuing education study. Medical practitioners could also use the program as a tool to explain problems to patients.

An@tomedia can be complete course replacement, or it can be used as an add-on for practicals, tutorials and lectures in existing dissection programs. "Its layer-by-layer approach offers the best alternative to dissection in courntries where dissection is not preformed for cultural or other reasons," he says.

And what do the users think of An@tomedia?

First year medical students have overwhelmingly endorsed it. They like the clinical relevance of the material, the clarity of the explanations and the beauty of the images.

Chris Briggs reports that the greatest 'complaint' from students shown the first module was theat the other seven modules was the other seven modules were not yet availbale.

An@tomedia is a cross-platorm program for use on Macintosh and PC. It was developed with support from the Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs Committee for University Teaching and Staff Development and a University Teaching and Learning (Multimedia and Education Technology) Committee grant.


2 August 1999