Beginning a few years ago, Misch realized that the proliferat- ing capacities of multimedia offered a possible alternative to human cadavers. It wouldn't be a perfect alternative, but it would give his students more exposure to human anatomy. "It's a toss-up in approach," Misch said."You can let the stu- dents engage in real dissection, which is very good experience for them, or you can let them study human anatomy
se via software. "I would never argue one approach is better than another." Nevertheless, Misch clearly had some misgivings about the mismatch between the course name and the course content. Then in the mid-'90s, a virtual dissection software package called AD.AM. (Animated Dissection of Anatomy for Medicine) came on the market. "I decided it would be appropriate to try it;' Misch said. The practical advantages of the software extend beyond the financiaI.AD.AM. also is economical with time. Sectioning an actual cadaver-peeling it layer by layer to see the different tissues and organs that constitute the human body-is an extremely time-consuming and painstaking process. With AD.AM., it's a matter of moving a mouse. A.D.AM. calls up a human body on the screen. After you zoom in on the portion you want to examine-say, the torso- you move the mouse cursor to a sliding handle on one side of the screen. Pull it down a third of centimeter. Suddenly you're looking at a torso minus the top layer of skin. Pull it down some more: The layer of subcutaneous fat is gone; so are the nerves just below the skin. Now you can see veins, arteries and the outermost layer of muscles. Once you go deeper, the usefulness of some elegantly simple features becomes apparent. A pull-down enables the user to highlight different organ systems. Select"cardiovascular;' and the heart, veins and lungs retain their color while the rest of the body fades to gray. "The software lets students appreciate more quickly relationships among different structures than they could dissecting a body," Misch said. It's also a lot easier to check out an A.D.AM. disk for a couple of hours of work than it is to wheel a body out of storage. Students can check out the disks for use in the computer lab outside of class hours. The department also is negotiating a purchase for individual disks that, Misch said,"we believe many students will find attractive enough to purchase their own copies"-thus rendering A.D.AM. potentially usable on Carolina Computer Initiative laptops. Even students who had misgivings about the idea of virtual dissections appreciate what AD.AM. offers. "At first the idea of sitting in front of a com- puter for four hours three times a week was a little distressing," recalled Andrew Rachlin, a senior biol-
ogy major from Miami."But the program presents cross-sec-
tions and complete displays of organs and systems that would
be impossible in real life. I cannot overemphasize how helpful
this has been. And we can return to organs we examined earlier
and to different levels and cross-sections. With a real cadaver
that would be impossible since it would have already been cut
up into a million pieces."
DON'T TOUCH THE ART-
JUST WALK AROUND IT
When art historian DorothyVerkerk first taught Celtic art
in 1995, she was deeply disappointed.
Slides and photographs are simply inadequate media for
depicting Celtic art. The Celts, who dominated most of pre-
Roman Europe and were the ancestors of the Irish, Welsh and
Scots, left behind jewelry, pottery, metalwork and, occasionally,
monuments and buildings.
Celtic art is three-dimensional, meant to be held, turned,
'The majority of artifacts of Celtic material culture consists
of small-scale, portable objects with abstract ornamentation;'
Verkerk said."Students need to study the objects on a more
intimate level than is provided in a large lecture hall with slides.
They are truly objects of contemplation that need sustained
That sort of analysis isn't likely to happen in a lecture hall,
where the object is to cover a certain amount of information in
a class period.
She decided to create a place on the World Wide Web where
that sort of analysis could happen.
With a 1997 Chancellor's Instructional Technology grant,
Verkerk worked with information science students Gary Geisler
' 98 (MSIS) and Karin Breiwitz ' 98 (MSLS) to create a multimedia
Web site for her Celtic art class.
With the computer, DorothyVerkerk can emphasize the three-dimensional nature of Celtic art.
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