Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) is a well-established institution with four campuses around the city of Cleveland, Ohio. Since 1962, it has served an extremely diverse population and has grown to over 50k students a year. The institution strives to provide high quality education and training options to all students at a reasonable cost.
Due to a change in the federal funding model of student loan distribution from attendance to successful completion, Tri-C recognized a need to focus resources on increasing student retention, completion, and student success. Biology, specifically Anatomy and Physiology, was identified as an excellent area for development because it is one of the highest enrollment course series.
The subject matter for the simulated eLearning training course was identified as a result of a comprehensive needs analysis based on instructor and student surveys in addition to student test scores. The students overwhelmingly answered that the effects of stress on the body’s nervous, muscular, and endocrine systems were the most challenging.
To help students understand the complicated aspects of what happens to the body when stressed, Designing Digitally, Inc. determined the best approach would be an online 3D simulation based training. The HTML5 driven 3D Stress Simulator is a complex, scientifically accurate exploration of how stress affects the body at the systems, organ, and cellular levels.
Understandably, this is not a simple process to explain, so the Designing Digitally, Inc. instructional design staff worked with a team of Tri-C Professors in a collaborative effort to identify trouble areas for students. After pinpointing difficult material it was decided the course would be broken into five sections: the Brain, Hypothalamus and Pituitary Gland, Adrenal Gland, Sympathetic Nervous System, and Negative Feedback. Each section is self-contained, allowing the learner to either complete the course in a linear fashion or have the freedom and flexibility to complete sections in an order of their choosing.
Each of these simulation based training sections include detailed explanations and charts to visualize the effects of stress on the previously mentioned systems. To ensure learners are retaining information, interactive knowledge checks are given throughout the module. Scores of the assessments are cumulatively tracked and recorded to give educators the ability to see and track student progress. Time spent in each section and total time spent in the course are also recorded.
Students also have the option of restarting any of the training sections from the beginning, so they can revisit any trouble areas or use the course as a reference. With the help of 3D visual aids, students get a totally new and different perspective of the material and are able to more clearly understand course content, making the difficult subject matter much easier to understand.
In total, there is approximately 2.5 hours of content read by voiceover audio that is synced to the 3D animations and still images. However, during focus group testing, reports indicated that many learners spent far more time interacting with the course and completing assessments.
To meet the ADA standards of the college, the entire course can be completed with the use of a screen reader. All images and visuals include detailed ALT tag descriptions, including the 3D animations, and audio narration and auto-scrolling Closed Captioning is used throughout. This allows students with disabilities to complete the course on their own.
The HTML5 3D Simulator was created in 2013 and is currently being used as pilot software for three of Cuyahoga Community College’s (Tri-C) anatomy and physiology (A&P) courses. Given Creative Commons licenses, this eLearning module can be downloaded and imported into any college or university's Learning Management System and is free for public use. To obtain a copy of the Tri-C Stress 3D Simulator please contact Designing Digitally, Inc.
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