Visions of a 3D Eye – Creating resource alternatives

26-09-2013 09-58-44

Our digital age of smart devices and online connectivity is providing new opportunities in the production and consumption of educational resources. Smart devices make these educational resources available from almost any location. It is no surprise that there is increased interest in the possibilities that digital content can offer learners (we’ve already seen the on-going interest in MOOCs and Open Educational Resources). The challenge for staff can often be where to start and how to produce content in a way that is applicable to students and their learning.

A recent joint project between the eLearning Unit and Orthoptics arose from an academic’s desire to enhance her educational resources. The eLearning Unit were able to provide some support and this led to the production of a series of 3D eye animations.

The aim was to present a dynamic, interactive cross sectional view of the eye to give both students and patients an insight into a fully functioning human eye and reveal the muscular movements that we don’t normally see. This work built upon traditional paper based 2D images of the eye – resources that were limited in terms of giving a complete ‘overall’ picture of how the eye functioned. Also,  students don’t always have immediate access to the bulky plastic 3D eye models, but now have the opportunity to study the workings of the eye in digital format. Not only is this resource innovative for the student experience but it provides staff with flexibility when deciding which educational eye resource is most appropriate for a particular group of students.

3d eye modelTo give you a flavour on how this project came about the perspectives of three of the people involved have been compiled. These are taken from the people who worked closely on the project with the 3D graphic designer.

Anna O Connor, Lead Academic on the project

“After attending a session on animations at the 2012 Learning and Teaching Conference  I was excited about the possibility of developing some eye animations for Orthoptics. Students can struggle to envisage eye structures and eye movement disorders based on 2D images, and animations seemed like the perfect solution. I was put in touch with Scott earlier this year and straight away he took on board what we wanted, and developed some amazing resources – way beyond what I thought was possible. Sometimes it was a challenge for me to explain things to a person with no prior eye knowledge making me think about every aspect of an eye movement in minute detail, but Scott got to grips with the complex terminology and was patient with us when we wanted things to be exactly right.

The range of animations that Scott Dingwall developed is fantastic. They are very detailed and we will be incorporating them into the teaching at the university, but also clinical tutors at hospitals all around the UK can use them to support student’s learning. As we have made them freely available, they could also be used to illustrate eye movement disorders to patients and a range of medical professionals all around the world. The first animations were released in time for the first ever World Orthoptic Day so we Tweeted the link which was then retweeted by orthoptists all over the world!

Everyone in the Directorate of Orthoptics and Vision Science would just like to say a huge thank you to Scott for developing this amazing resource, and also the eLearning Unit for all their help facilitating this project and creating the webpages.”

Paul Duvall – Learning Technologist

“Working with Dr Anna O’Connor from Orthoptics on a number of projects (see Eye on the future) it became obvious that one element missing in the directorate’s teaching, which could make a significant impact on the student experience, was the lack of high quality animations showing eye movements. Orthoptics staff and students use static images and animations, produced in packages such as PowerPoint, to replicate eye movements and the potential impacts on movement when certain eye conditions were present. Although this gave some indication of the motion involved Anna was not satisfied with the learning resources available for this essential area of the Orthoptics curriculum.

The eLearning Unit took up the challenge to assist in this matter, through the effective use of technology. Scott Dingwall had previously worked with the Victoria Gallery and Museum Liverpool, producing a superb 3D animation of a hippo skull in a publicity project. This came to our attention and we put the development expertise and talent that Scott possesses together with the detailed academic knowledge of eye movements in Orthoptics and a new project became a possibility. We are now delighted to announce that, through a web interface designed by the webteam within the eLearning Unit, a full range of eye movement animations are now available for students. We hope this satisfies the demand and the necessity for these animations and presents another good example of technology enhanced learning at the University of Liverpool.”

Stuart Feltham, eLearning Unit – Webteam Manager

“I became involved in the project fairly late on. The fantastic animations needed to be presented on the web in a way that was easy to use and understand whilst providing accurate information about what you were seeing. Paul, Scott and I met with Anna to discuss options and decided that a simple resource that could be used for a multitude of situations was the best approach. We therefore developed a resource that was intuitive and simple; bringing together Scott’s animations, Anna’s knowledge and integrating them with the newly created video streaming service from the University (Stream ) to provide a resource that is easy to use, attractive and available across a range of desktop and mobile platforms to allow use in a lecture, as a post lecture resource or even at a patient’s bedside on a tablet device. The result was the Positions and Movement of the Eyes web resource.”

Do check out the website and see the resource at the following link – also feel free to leave comments and feedback: http://www.liv.ac.uk/elearning/orthoptics-project/

Post written by: Philip Walker, Anna O Connor, Paul Duvall, Stuart Feltham

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