The second phase of expansion of 3D visualization at Nevada State College (see last week's post) involves their advanced pre-med experiences, specifically, their human dissection cadaver lab. Nevada State is ramping up plans to provide both live and recorded stereo 3D cadaver dissections, using a head-mounted GoPro camera and stereo-displaying Panasonic projectors in the dissection lab and other classrooms. Hoping to deliver instruction as close to reality as possible, Dean Kuniyuki submits: “We want to have students prepared well. “He continues: “In the past, when we were only able to have two cadavers, it was the MDs that performed the dissections. [With 3D] we want more students to do hands on, rather than just passively watching what the MDs are doing.”
Currently, Nevada State has grown to six chambers, hosting three human cadavers and one synthetic cadaver. The synthetic cadaver is constructed of materials that feel like real human flesh (a real cadaver is stiff) and maintains natural coloration (real cadavers lose coloration). The synthetic cadaver looks and feels like a live human body, including a fat layer that oozes. Fluids can also be pumped into it. The synthetic cadaver, however, is still a consumable resource. Fortunately, the synthetic cadaver qualifies for free replacement after it has been used repeatedly. Not so with the human cadavers. The cost of cadavers runs the show. For that reason, the use of 3D video recording and display translates well, economically speaking. Students will make fewer mistakes on costly cadavers, becoming familiar with the tasks at hand (through visualization) before they work with the cadaver. “We want students, besides observing, to get their hands dirty, so to speak,” explains Kuniyuki. He also expects students to view 3D videos 3-4 times before making the hands on switch. (In our observing other 3D visualization projects world-wide, this is something we have called “learning replay”—the willingness of students to watch and re-watch 3D visualization for learning advantage.) Then, “when they are then working with the human cadavers, they know exactly what to expect,” he says.
Since many educators can be fiercely traditional-minded, it begs the question: “how did this growth of 3D visualization come to be?” Well, there is a mix of reasons. One reason is that the college had an existing infrastructure in place. “Because we had invested in the original 3D visualization infrastructure, we knew we had the possibility of expanding it in this manner,” beamed Dean Kuniyuki. In addition, school administrators are clearly listening to students, valuing the overall effectiveness of visualization, and seeking to provide improved learning experiences at a more affordable cost.
Currently, one of their challenges is exploring a transition from passive to active 3D in other areas of the campus. The jury is still out on this change up. I’ll have to return to see how the active-passive scuffle turns out.