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From head to toe, Salt Lake Community College offers online anatomy to all students.

When Diana Ploeger, program coordinator of the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program at Salt Lake Community College first discovered Primal Pictures' Anatomy.TV, she quickly saw how the interactive online anatomy software could raise the level of learning and understanding for her students.

"Physical therapy students are often very visual learners, and much of what they need to understand is how the anatomy works together and can be manipulated," said Ploeger, who is both a professor and the program coordinator. "Suddenly, my students studying functional anatomy could view the human body in a three-dimensional, interactive format, and could manipulate the muscles with the click of a mouse. The software makes the human body much more real than the flat textbook or plastic model, and in some ways, even more real than a cadaver."


Ploeger first began using Primal Pictures' Anatomy.TV with her functional anatomy classes about seven years ago. She originally used grant funding to purchase the subscription for her PTA students only. The program graduates about 25 students per year. When the grant funding expired, Ploeger suggested that the library adopt the software for use by all SLLC students studying human anatomy in a range of majors and courses.

Today, Anatomy.TV is available online to all 60,000 students enrolled in courses at SLLC's 13 locations throughout the Salt Lake Valley. Students studying anatomy as part of their coursework in dental hygiene, occupational therapy, nursing, and other related programs can access Anatomy.TV anywhere, anytime, directly from the school's e-library page. Usage has increased tenfold since Ploeger first introduced the software to her PTA students.

"We frequently direct students to Anatomy.TV when they come in seeking information from a textbook or wanting to use plastic anatomy models as study aids," said Jon Glenn, director of the Jordon Campus Library for SLCC. "It is really helpful for students who are reviewing a particular section of the anatomy, such as head and neck, as they can drill into just the information that they need." Recognizing that more students are seeking not just online courses but online learning resources, Salt Lake Community College is prioritizing digital solutions in its library budget. Glenn notes that a program like Anatomy.TV can support many courses and many students, providing good value for the price of a school-wide license.


Anatomy.TV gives students clear, detailed and accurate 3D realtime modeling of all sections of the human anatomy. Users can create custom views to save as bookmarks or label, annotate and export. The images are created from real medical scan data and include over 3000 structures. Users can rotate the 3D models in any direction using a mouse and control which structures are visible, added, removed, made x-ray or opaque either in groups--muscles, vessel systems and organ systems--or individually, structure by structure. All views can be peeled away, rotated and labeled. The product also includes narrated animations of physiology, learning objectives, self-testing, and pronunciation guides.

Primal Pictures is based in London, but their 3D anatomy software has been widely adopted in education and it is used for patient, practitioner and student education in over 20 countries. Primal's products have won prestigious awards including best digital resource by the British Medical Association in 2011. In 2012, over half a million students will learn anatomy using Primal software.

The first anatomy course that students take in the PTA program is functional anatomy. The class is comprised of class lectures, along with time in the cadaver lab, and a patient lab. But much of the learning in this intense program must be done while students are on their own and do not have access to the cadaver lab.

"The software was an immediate benefit to my students in their individual study and preparation time, as they could manipulate the body parts, turn them around, peel back layers of skin to reveal the tissue and muscle--all on their own time," said Ploeger.

While the cadaver of an actual human body is assumed to be the best way to learn anatomy, Ploeger noted that because the way the cadaver is preserved, the muscles nerves and tendons can be quite dry and similarly colored, which makes them difficult to differentiate. She finds that if students use Anatomy.TV to review prior to the cadaver lab, they are more likely to understand and remember the contours and overlap that are important to physical manipulation.

Beyond the core class of functional anatomy, there are additional required and elective classes in the PTA program where students use Anatomy.TV to support their learning, including muscular/skeletal class, sports physical therapy and many more.

"I believe that the more you can manipulate information the more likely you are to remember it, said Ploeger. "Our students can use this software anytime they want to practice and learn, focusing on just the element that they need to understand, As novices, they also appreciate that they can learn at their own pace--there is no one looking over their shoulder as they learn, and they can quiz themselves when they are ready."

As students prepare to graduate from the PTA program, they are focused on successfully completing the national examination for physical therapist assistants, which is required for licensure in Utah and many other states. Ploeger finds many of her students returning to Anatomy.TV to study, access quizzes and prepare for their biggest test yet.

"As with health education programs at similar schools, we have a big demand, and the students are under pressure to learn a great deal in a short time. Primal's online interactive software elevates their understanding--from the first required course to the last, all the way through to certification," Ploeger said.



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Author:Allan, Peter
Publication:Community College Week
Date:Mar 5, 2012
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