Introduction

Nowadays human anatomy has been a difficult topic for students, mainly because of the passive teaching manners that make them lose attention easily. For this reason we have been searching for interactive teaching alternatives that improve the learning of this topic.

We built a low-cost AR learning system, in which the students can visualize (in real time) 3D bones, muscles and organs with the correct position over their bodies, helping the students to identify the anatomical elements in an easy, fun and interactive way. This system also indicate the names and position of the elements. Our system is very easy to install in different platforms. It uses only 3 components: a device with a depth sensor and RGB camera (Microsoft Kinect), a computer and a screen. These three components can be set up easily in any educational site.

In a classroom, the teacher will ask a student to get in front of the depth sensor, the rest of the class will see the student’s interaction in the screen, which is connected to the computer. Once the student is tracked, he/she may select the anatomical elements from the menu, using their hands and feet, in order to visualize their names, positions, sizes and references to other parts of the body. The interaction with this elements in real time helps to learn this topic in a more dynamic way.

This system can be moved from one classroom to another, to home or to any other space where more persons would like to interactively learn anatomy. We have already used this system in the “Human Body” course, at the ITESM high school. The students have found this system helpful for learning faster and better.

Synopsis

Objective

We live in a society that is immersed in technological development, the advance of information technology has changed our way of life, impacting many areas of knowledge. In education, technology has been shown to be of great support for both teachers and students. The implementation of technology in education serves as a tool that can help the students to have more visual and audio elements to enrich the teaching-learning process.

This augmented reality system for Anatomy is an interactive and intuitive tool, where the main objective is that students know the anatomy of the human body in a very visual and entertaining way. With this system, students can see graphically where the bones, muscles and organs are positioned in their body. The teacher will ask a student to get in front of the classroom, where the depth sensor will be located (connected to the classroom computer), and the rest of the class will see the student in the screen interacting with the anatomical elements in real time. The student will be able to move and select different options, with the hands and legs, from the system menu in order to visualize the muscles, organs and bones with their anatomical names in English or Spanish. This helps the students remember the elements position and size accordingly to their body.

The body elements are arranged hierarchically into categories and subcategories. The student can select which category they want to view (bones , muscles, organs ) and the elements of that category will appear in the body. Once inside a category, the student can select a subcategory, and these elements will change to color yellow, so that the student can know where they are located . In the subcategory the student can also select a more specific part , which will change to color cyan.

Approach

One difficult topic for high school students is human anatomy. This topic has been taught in the same way for many years, mainly through static images of the human body with the anatomic elements. In this way of learning the students are passive and may lose attention easily, for this reason new learning alternatives have been studied. One alternative presented is the use of Information Technology (IT), which has demonstrated potential for improving learning processes, one example is Augmented Reality which has the capability of reducing cognitive overload and helps students to utilize knowledge in creative and meaningful ways.

An augmented reality system can be defined as one that allow real and virtual objects co-exist in the same space in real time. With recent improvements in computation and the introduction of low cost depth cameras, a lot of visual processing can be made in real time without worrying about the light or slow mathematical processing, which where some of the main problems AR faced in the past. For this reason, AR is more widely used and new generations of students are learning how to use it through games, making it easy for them to understand how to interact with this paradigm. In addition, AR costs have been reduced, in previous years the required hardware would have a high cost starting around 10,000 dollars, but in the present time, the hardware can cost as low as 2,000 dollars. Taking this into account our purpose is to build a low-cost AR learning system for anatomy study in high school. In it, the students can visualize muscles, organs and bones with the correct position over their bodies. This system will help students identify the main anatomical elements in an easy and interactive way.

Engagament

This project is committed to lead the way in high schools of Mexico to start using technology as a tool to teach the subjects of the class. This system propose a proactive, interactive and not outdated teaching that helps provide students a more complete preparation.

With this system, students can learn the topics in a much more simple and visual way, making the students to remember the topics in a long-term, because they do not only learn the topics by memory, but they have an experience that involves several senses. The system causes that the learning process becomes a "game" for students, ensuring that they are more open and motivated to receive the information of the class.

Impact

The system was used in 5 classrooms by 150 students. In each classroom we introduced the system and gave them 6 instructions of how to use it and all of them were able to use it with no further explanations.

The system successfully tracked the students in front of the class, automaticaly adjusting the size of the anatomical elements accordingly to their height. The students were excited of using the system and many asked to get in the front to try it. We explained the teachers how to set up the system and they could do it by themselves without any problem.

After implementing the system in the classrooms, we applied a usability survey to 68 students. The survey was composed of 7 questions that should be answer with an option from 1 to 5, being 1 strongly agree and 5 strongly disagree. These were the results:
-They found that the information and its organization was easy to understand.
-The application was easy to use.
-The students would like to have more applications like this for the classroom.
-They learned better and faster the subject with this application.
-They said it was fun to use the application in the class.

From analyzing the given results we noticed that the interaction with the system was easy and entertaining which encourage the students to learn and practice the given subject. Also most of the students thought that using this software help them learn faster and better the subjects.

Next Steps

In the next two academic semesters, this system will be used by teachers in more than 10 courses of human body and anatomy in high school, so hundreds of students will have access to it.

For this project, some future work will include a way of making quick quizzes, adding models with animations and a small description of the selected anatomical element.

In addition, we seek to make more projects in other areas, always including technology as a teaching tool.

Other Information

PDF - Click to download
YouTube Video - Augmented Reality Environment in Real Time for Anatomy Teaching
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