Author: Keith L. Moore, Anne M.R. Agur, Arthur F. Dalley
Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010
$64.99 ($9.99 for individual chapters)
Moving a great educational resource to the digital medium often presents challenges, some of which impact its overall success: Will the form factor work? Are the interactive exercises educationally sound in promoting skills for learning? How will students actually use the resource? Essential Clinical Anatomy (ECA) for the iPad (distributed by Inkling™) surmounts these challenges and provides a useful tool for studying and learning anatomy.
The form factor and tools to navigate the content are intuitive for iPad users. The content is organized by chapter and can be accessed from the visual menu or by scrolling through chapter sections. Figures, clinical correlations, and surface anatomy correlates are easily accessed through tap sequences within the collapsible menu. ECA’s hallmark narrative text and excellent figures are clear, as well as appropriately sized. The software allows for user- selected font size, while images can be zoomed for viewing using the pinch-in and pinch-out finger commands. Changing between topics within a chapter can be done by finger scrolling or directly through the visual menu. Overall, navigation through the content is relatively seamless. The tools provide excellent access to the rich content made famous by the print editions.
Although the print edition is a great resource, the iPad version provides additional capabilities to help students learn. For example, images can be viewed with or without labels to provide a self-quizzing function. This ‘quizzing’ function can help students become familiar with not only the terminology, but also with the anatomic relationships between structures. Another example of interactive exercises is ‘slidelines’ that present a sequence of images in a scrollable fashion. In the gait section of the lower extremity, users scroll between the phases of gait to create a pseudo-animated sequence. The sequence is user-controlled and may help in understanding which muscle groups are active during each phase of the gait cycle. Moreover, the ‘notes’ function allows users to create annotations that are linked to particular passages of text (not from images) that are organized by chapter, section, and page. The added feature of easily searching your own notes and the ECA text for keywords creates a manageable forum for review.
Two excellent features that promote student learning are the review section and case studies provided at the end of each chapter. In the review section, users answer a sort series of multiple-choice questions that are framed in clinical context. Each question requires the user to interpret aspects of the patient’s history and observations of the physical exam while applying them to anatomical concepts. Feedback is provided for each question with annotations for each response. This feature will most certainly have a high impact for students as they learn (or re-learn) concepts while moving through formative feedback.
One of the primary goals of any anatomy course is to encourage students to discuss (or reflect on) anatomical concepts and how they can be applied clinically. The case studies section, borrowed in part from the print edition of Clinically Oriented Anatomy, provides an excellent forum to explore the underlying anatomical aspects of common medical issues.
Using the software in a classroom setting, for home study, or when traveling proved easy and unencumbered. With the ability to quickly access the content, add notes, highlight passages of text, and bookmark sections, users can effectively track their progress. With digital media, the question around time limits and continued access to content often arise. According to the Inkling™ website, once the user downloads the title, access to the content does not expire. This means users can not only keep their notes, but also maintain the content for future reference. Aside from a few mislabeled areas and isolated missed opportunities to exploit iPad features, ECA for the iPad is effectively moving a great anatomical resource to the digital medium.
Disclaimer: The author now uses the print version of ECA as part of professional curricula
Reviewer: Marc Pizzimenti, Ph.D., Co-director, Medical Gross Anatomy, Lecturer, Carver College of Medicine, Univ. of Iowa
Review Date: September 2011