Tuesday, April 23, 2013

University of Kentucky Collaboration with UWA School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology

Left to right: Avatars of Professor Stuart Bunt (UWA), Dr April Richardson-Hatcher (UK), D.Newton (UWA) and Matt Hazzard (UK) meet to launch the collaboration

The University of Kentucky (UK) has had a strong presence in SL for some years with classes in Virtual Anatomy showing off complex parts of the human body, in particular to teach students various aspects of the cranial nervous system. They have created a “Cranial Nerve Skywalk” in Second Life that features a 3D display of cranial nerves III, V, VII, and IX. This can be seen HERE.

UWA's Professor Stuart Bunt and his student Khaleel Sunba have kicked off a collaboration with the UK's Dr April Richardson-Hatcher and Matt Hazzard with the assistance of UWA SL founder, Jay Jay Jegathesan as one of the first steps towards building a School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology in Second Life. One of the triggers for the collaboration was funding from an Improving Student Learning Grant from UWA’s Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning.

A model from The University of Kentucky's cranial nerve collection  system placed at UWA

As a first stage in the collaboration, the University of Kentucky have kindly placed one of their complex and detailed cranial models at the site selected for the setting up UWA's School of Anatomy, Physiology & Human Biology (APHB), as seen in the image above, and can be seen at THIS location in Second Life.

Commenting on their work, Dr Richardson-Hatcher explained, “Second Life has enabled us teach anatomical concepts in a creative way. Our healthcare professional students study 3D models of the cranial nerves to begin to demystify some of the complex routes these nerves take to reach their targets. Our undergraduates benefit from the social aspect of Second Life as they meet weekly for Team-based learning sessions with their classmates for the discussion of regional anatomy. The students demonstrate healthy group dynamics even in the virtual world and have the added bonus of being able to interact in this way from various locations across the campus. We are excited to continue to explore the possibilities of the virtual world in anatomy education.”

An information sheet next to the model, provides information on the programmes running at the University of Kentucky, as follows:

These models were designed to supplement students’ study of the cranial nerve pathways and fiber types that are included in the respective nerves. The skywalk includes an overall description of the cranial nerves and an in-depth tutorial of cranial nerves III, V, VII, and IX located behind each corresponding cranial nerve display. Scanned human bone images (courtesy of Dr. Paul Brown at Stanford University) were imported into Second Life to reconstruct the cranial nerves in context with the bony foramina in the skull. This assembly allows students to follow the path of the cranial nerves through their natural courses within the skull. 

In addition, specific color codes were assigned for specific types of fibers carried in each cranial nerve, such as red for somatomotor and green for somatosensory. Autonomic fibers, particularly parasympathetic fibers, were designated as preganglionic (purple) and postganglionic (orange). A key is posted in the virtual platform that correlates the color code with the specific fiber type included in the cranial nerve (the color coding has been removed from this model for simplicity). 

Dr. April Richardson-Hatcher and Matt Hazzard from the University of Kentucky, in addition to Dr. German Ramirez from the University of Manitoba, collaborated on this project. Dr. Richardson-Hatcher and Dr. Ramirez introduce this tutorial to healthcare professional students in their courses as an additional approach to studying the cranial nerves. One of the major benefits of studying the cranial nerves in this program is that students may log on from anywhere to view the nerves and interact with their peers in the same setting. Camera controls (i.e. zooming features) in Second Life allow for an in-depth view of the cranial nerves in context with the surrounding bones. 

The creators of this display envision that these models may be used by any student anywhere who is interested in learning the specifics of the cranial nerves. The Cranial Nerve Skywalk is located above UK’s virtual island in Second Life (the landmark is http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/University%20of%20KY/123/40/1001). 

It is expected that the first stage of UWA's APHB Building will be ready by the end of May. This will then be the home of  'The Celestian' (one of UWA's 100 Treasures), a wonderful creation by UWA's Artist in Residence, Hans Arkeveld, which had been lovingly resculpted in SL by Chuckmatrix Clip. On the UWA campus proper, The Celestian sits in a garden at the front entrance of the APHB building.


1 comment: