Authors

  1. Sternberg, C.
  2. Meyer, L.
  3. Jeffries, P.R.

Article Content

CARDIOVASCULAR ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY C. Sternberg, L. Meyer, and P.R. Jeffries Medical AudioVisual Communications, Inc Suite 240 2315 Whirlpool Street Niagara Falls, New York 14305 Telephone: 1-800-757-4868 Fax: 905-602-8720 E-mail: dwc@mavc.com Web: http://www.mavc.com Cost: $229.00

 

OVERVIEW

Cardiovascular Anatomy and Physiology is a CD-ROM that provides basic anatomy and physiology instructional content in an interactive self-paced learning format. Created for a variety of healthcare providers, the material is designed to facilitate understanding of the basic principles necessary for cardiac assessment and electrocardiogram interpretation. Its easy access to learning materials and its interactive format are consistent with self-directed adult learning and the busy life-styles of healthcare professionals.

 

This software, using the Jeffries' Hyperlearning Model, has basic cardiovascular anatomy and physiology arranged across three learning dimensions: general principles, process, and critical thinking. The presentation of the content allows learners to move through the material sequentially, much as students experience in a typical lecture class, or to adapt the dimensions to their own personal learning preferences. In other words, the learner can access the dimensions in any order, perhaps wanting to begin with process or critical thinking initially to validate their current level of understanding. Pre- and posttests are available to structure the learning experience and provide feedback on the level of learner understanding. Additional program features include a glossary and a note-taking function.

 

INSTALLATION

Installation is not required because the CD-ROM can run from the CD drive of the user's computer. The instructions for running the program are consistent with typical CD-ROM use. I ran the program on an IBM ThinkPad 600X laptop using Windows 98. The MUSTREAD.txt file provided straightforward instructions for problems the user may encounter with screen resolution and colors. It is necessary for users to have QuickTime 3.0 or higher on their computer to use the CD-ROM. The program checks to see whether the user has the appropriate version of QuickTime and will begin the installation process if the user does not have version 3.0 or higher. One of the reviewers needed a more recent version and had no problems with the program installation of the update.

 

USING THE SOFTWARE

The instructional material is accessed by inserting the CD-ROM and selecting RUN in the Start Dialogue box on Windows. Once the credits are faded in and out, an introduction is presented outlining the primary components of the program: General Principles, Process, Critical Thinking, and Testing. After this screen, the main menu lists the components, allowing access to the next level content-related to each element.

 

Clicking on General Principles took one reviewer to six levels of content that included topical areas such as Basic Structure of the Heart. At this level, the navigational buttons at the bottom of the screen provided access to the previous screen, main menu, glossary (vocabulary), My Notes (the note-taking function), and exit. It took the reviewer a little time to get used to the navigational screen, and she found it disconcerting to have to navigate back though the layers or to go through the Main Menu to get to a previously viewed area. Once the reviewer got acclimated to the navigational structure, it was not as frustrating. However, it would be more useful to have an easier way to move back and forth between content areas.

 

In General Principles, each subcontent level provided straightforward cardiac anatomy and physiologic content much like that found in a textbook. The advantage gained by the program over a textbook seemed to be the addition of animated graphics to illustrate some of the concepts. For the most part, the animations provided additional information that could support understanding, but the reviewer was distracted in a few places because the size of the graphic (too small) limited ability to appreciate what the graphic was trying to display. For example, the graphic depicting valve function was useful, but only after the reviewer had figured out that all the valves were opening and closing, and that the relation of them all functioning could be seen in the graphic. A novice may not have the necessary understanding at this point in the program to figure that out. On the other hand, learners with some understanding may miss the point because they probably would browse through the screens rather quickly.

 

Moving through the content areas in General Principles was relatively quick and easy for the reviewer because the screens usually contained a limited amount of information. The combination of a few content statements and a graphic representation of the content facilitated understanding of the content. It took the reviewer approximately 1 hour to work through the General Principles component.

 

The second section, Process, was the reviewer's favorite section in the program. Here the power of interactivity was demonstrated. Screens were presented that required the selection and docking of terms with appropriate locations on graphic representations of the anatomy instruction material presented in General Principles. Correct responses received a congratulatory comment and allowed the user to move to the next concept. Users have the option to repeat any of the process elements to reinforce their understanding.

 

Multiple-choice questions were used in the Critical Thinking section to integrate what had been presented in the General Principles and Process sections. The reviewer selected a response, submitted it, and received feedback on whether it was the correct response. Correct responses received a reinforcing comment containing content, whereas incorrect responses received a feedback message: "Try again."

 

The final section, Testing, provided pre- and posttests. Unfortunately, the reviewer overlooked the availability of a pretest initially, partially because of trying to figure out the navigation structure. The reviewer, despite completion of the General Principles section, took the pretest and scored 86. After working the through Process and Critical Thinking sections, the reviewer took the posttest and scored 93.

 

DOCUMENTATION

The program is provided in a CD-ROM jewel case with documentation limited to the inside and back cover of the CD-ROM case. A MUSTREAD.txt file is available in the electronic folder, but information is limited to technical issues related to running the program. A more detailed explanation of the navigational structure and program features would have been helpful. The reviewer spent a little time getting used to the navigation and content layout, which was a distraction from the content. Novice learners may have problems with these areas because they are learning both the material and the structure of the program. Experienced providers using the CD-ROM to review or reinforce their understanding of cardiac basics could be frustrated navigating the sections without a clearer understanding of how the content is laid out.

 

TECHNICAL SUPPORT

The reviewer did not need to contact technical support to use this program. Visiting the Web site, the reviewer discovered that the program was available for a 14-day free preview. Shipping cost $9.00 for a single CD and $1.00 for additional programs. The distributor provides a variety of healthcare-oriented programs.

 

CONCLUSION

The use of an interactive approach to learning basic concepts has been proved to enhance the learning experience. This CD-ROM provides interactivity and immediate feedback to facilitate learning. This is the strength of the program. There are two primary criticisms. First, the graphics in the General Principles section are small, requiring that the viewer either have some understanding of the material to figure out what is being represented or be able to go back to previous screens to make associations. Going back would not be a problem if navigation were easier. Second, the price may be problematic for most healthcare providers. The reviewer is not sure that the benefit of interactivity for this material would be a personal enticement to spend more than $200 for information that could be obtained from a textbook for much less.

 

MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

Personal computer (PC)

Windows 95 or higher, 80386 processor or higher, super VGA graphics adapter, sound card, speakers, and 4X or faster CD-ROM are necessary.

 

Macintosh

System 7.0 or higher, 4-MB RAM, 256 color monitor, and 4X or faster CD-ROM are necessary.