This program was developed for use in college-level anatomy courses to provide high-quality anatomical multimedia information within an intuitive package designed for both instruction and reference.
By migrating to an interactive hypermedium, the researchers were confronted with many new problems and opportunities. They had hundreds of high-quality images and video/animation sequences but recognized that a linear, textbook-style approach to this con tent would be a usability disaster. On the other hand, a disjointed hyperweb of snippets is hardly conducive to the focused, thorough educational goals of a medical school curriculum.
They addressed these issues through two innovations: interactive media and multi-modality.
They developed software called the Interactive Image Tool so doctors could annotate an image and then they integrated a viewer for this new format into the Anatomy Lesson for presentation to the user. The result is so simple and powerful, that it could b e reused in many other contexts, including the help system, which allows users to see a picture of the interface with instructions and explanations about each feature.
In a traditional book, the single structure imposed by the physical nature of the medium tends to force exactly one pedagogical model on the information, but in a hypermedia product, authors are able to provide multiple presentations over the same informa
The Anatomy Lesson approaches this by providing three modes of interaction with the information. The first two modes are focused on classroom usage using two different teaching styles. In Lesson Mode, learning is guided through a series of multip le-choice questions, each presented with enough information to find an appropriate answer. This teaching style contrasts with the more traditional one offered by the Textbook Mode, which structures the information as a linear textbook, with page n umbers matching an existing anatomy book. This mode can serve as an alternative or supplement to a standard textbook.
The last mode, the Atlas Mode, provides a reference model of access to the multimedia information.
From the demo, a user can get the sense that the goal of their interface was to empower the user to use the rich information in whatever way is most appropriate for their needs. This is in contrast with both traditional textbook approaches and much softw are design, which attempts to constrain and dumb down interfaces as much as possible to prevent user error. By providing advanced content and multiple garden paths that all lead to the right materials, the Anatomy Lesson makes very innovative use of the n ew media technologies and points the way for future textbook adaptations.