THE ANATOMY OF E-LEARNING TOOLS: ARE MODERN E-LEARNING TOOLS A SUITABLE REPLACEMENT FOR TRADITIONAL LEARNING METHODS?
University of Western Ontario (CANADA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Increasing class sizes and a reduction in laboratory hours have increased the popularity of commercial anatomy e-learning tools. Our previous research (n=70) compared a simple 2-dimensional e-learning tool (A.D.A.M. Interactive Anatomy) to a more complex tool that allows for a more 3-dimensional perspective (Netter’s 3D Interactive Anatomy). Despite the differences in how these e-learning tools present information, student ability to learn anatomical material, and their mental effort while doing so, known as cognitive load, were identical between e-learning tools. However, when students with low spatial ability studied anatomical content with the more complex tool (Netter’s 3D Interactive Anatomy), their performance scores were significantly lower than those students with high spatial ability (p=0.007, R2=0.103). These results indicate that e-learning tool software design can differentially influence students based on their spatial ability, but it remains to be determined if traditional kinesthetic-tactile learning approaches, such as manipulating a skeleton, are also impacted by a student’s spatial ability. This logical extension of my work to date will help to identify whether modern e-learning tools are a suitable replacement for traditional pedagogical teaching methods. Studies, involving 75 undergraduate anatomy students from Western University, are ongoing to determine how cognitive load and performance scores are impacted when learning anatomy using a simple e-learning tool (A.D.A.M. Interactive Anatomy) versus a kinesthetic-tactile approach with an anatomical model. Using our dual-task methodology, students are being assessed using a baseline knowledge test, modified Stroop observation task response times (a measure of cognitive load), mental rotation test (MRT) scores (a measure of the ability to mentally rotate objectives) and an anatomy post-test (a measure of learning). Student performance on anatomical post-tests will be compared to their MRT score and observation task response times to determine the relationships among spatial ability, cognitive load and tool effectiveness (kinesthetic-tactile manipulation vs. simple e-learning tool use). We hypothesize that the acquisition of anatomical knowledge by students, regardless of their spatial ability, will be superior when learning is associated with a real model, rather than currently available e-learning tools. Results of this study will determine if currently available e-learning tools are effective in delivering anatomical education; alternatively, if this is not the case, we will have identified a major weakness in the strategy to move traditional education online.