For my Instructional Product Development class at BYU, I’ve been asked to review a classmate’s work, since he is also using Unity for his project.
This student is creating an interactive tool to be used by anatomy students to help them learn the muscles and tendons associated with movement of the fingers and wrist. A screenshot follows:
The concept is something that I really love. To give students an interactive tool that they can rotate to see all angles of the arm, and to be able to see the shapes of the associated muscles as you drag them to the correct position is something that should provide an effective constructivist experience for the learner. Such an experience where the learner can take information gained through reading and lecture and apply it through this tool, which will provide an informal learning experience to reinforce what was learned. After experiencing this tool, the student should then be able to reflect upon the experience and contextualize all of the learning they’ve been exposed to into a more complete knowledge of the subject.
Since I am learning Unity as well, I know many of the challenges my fellow student is experiencing, primarily the struggles of developing a tool to function in a certain way in the Unity environment, and then publishing it as WebGL only to see the elements stray from their intended locations. As you can see in the screenshot above, this straying problem has caused the labels on his muscles to shrink to the middle of the screen. For my purposes I have decided to forego WebGL altogether and instead will publish to Mac and Windows platforms and offer the tool as a download. I would suggest that he do this as well.
As I used the tool, I noted how the arrow keys rotate around the arm skeleton while the muscles appear to be attached to the canvas that rotates with the camera. Because of this the directional lighting stays consistent on the arm, but rotates around the muscles. This confused me at first as it made me think the muscles were rotating as well. I’d suggest changing it so that the arm is what is rotating and not the camera.
Another suggestion is to the overall look and feel. The “skybox” background is ideal for real world environments to give something to reflect into objects, but in this case, I believe the gradient could make it hard to read the text. I’d suggest a different backdrop behind everything or a custom gradient to reduce possible distractions from the important areas. Also, the text is black text floating over the tool elements. I’d suggest adding dark blocks behind the text and turning the text white so it is always readable no matter what it is in front of. Black text on a screened white box would work as well.
All in all I think there is great progress being made on this project. It will be very interesting to see it completed. I would expect that students will find it useful in their learning of anatomy.
I had an opportunity to see an updated version of this project running in the Unity editor and it is much better. He has changed it so that the muscles and labels appear one-at-a-time to be placed. He also made some adjustments to the rotation of the objects so they move more naturally with the skeleton. I am really impressed with the progress he has made with this project not having any background in 3D modeling, game creation, or programming.