“For a while now, we have been trying to find the perfect laboratory book to supplement our teaching in the human anatomy lab, but were not having luck.”  Those are the words of Kevin Cole, Ph.D., and Associate Professor of Kinesiology that accurately portray the shared concern and lament we both had with publicly and commercially available Human Anatomy workbook texts. As instructors for the Hope College Department of Kinesiology’s Human Anatomy course, Dr. Cole and I have been experimenting for several years with multiple texts for our lab instruction, but never felt comfortable with any of them. It was only after COVID-19 forced us into virtual instruction during the Spring and May Term semesters of 2020 that we found a solution.

In March of 2020, COVID-19 forced us to quickly transition into an online teaching format. In addition to producing and recording our lectures online, we searched for a viable alternative to replace our cadaver lab instruction. We were aware of a smartphone/tablet app titled Visible Body and quickly transitioned into using it to provide opportunities for virtual lab-like exploration of human anatomy. The Visible Body app comes complete with the ability to virtually manipulate structures of all the major organ systems like what students might experience in the cadaver laboratory. Of course, it is not the same, but it is better than viewing pictures on the page of a textbook. The augmented reality portion of the app, along with the ability to endlessly position, manipulate, and view the structures depicted within the app, has allowed us to meet the objectives of the course while transitioning into a new way of teaching. Feedback from students has been positive and during our May Term class, we found that exam performance demonstrated knowledge acquisition and understanding similar to in-person instruction. It seems that through our work in recording lectures and using the Visible Body app, our learning objectives were still being met even with this switch to online learning.

One of the several illustrations by Anastasia Tucker used in the new Human Anatomy Workbook.
Illustration by Anastasia Tucker

During our co-taught Human Anatomy May Term course, Dr. Cole and I explored ways to augment the “seek, find, memorize, and know” mentality of our lab. We used structured exploration and critical thinking exercises within the Visible Body app for various class assignments and learning activities. It was after this experience that we began to think of actually addressing our laboratory workbook concerns via creating our own. After thinking about it, we decided that the best way to obtain what we wanted for Hope College students was to do it ourselves. Therefore, work began in earnest over the summer, and two months and 200 pages later, we did it. As Cole states: “Writing our own workbook allowed us to tailor it exactly to our needs and our students’ needs.  We also really like that we were able to fully illustrate the text and to integrate the use of a virtual anatomy application along with our in-class cadavers and models.”

The Hope College Anatomy Laboratory Workbook is being used during our in-person laboratories this semester. Artwork for the workbook was created by Anastasia Tucker, a Department of Kinesiology Exercise Science major and aspiring medical illustrator.

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