Monday, September 19, 2011

My adventure last week was into the world of interactive surgery.  These simulations were created by the crew of Clearly Trained...headed by Eric Bort.  Amy and I are very interested in having Eric look at our ideas and see if we can come up with something created especially for Vet Tech students. 

We love the ideas contained in Edheads and Surgery Squad, and hope to combine both concepts and design in our interactive virtual suturing simulation. 

Surgery Squad is an online interactive simulations for several surgical procedures.  It was designed to explain what goes on when a patient goes under the knife so to speak.  Two virtual physicians, Dr. Jeff and Dr. Suzi help guide us through liposuctions, tonsillectomies, dental procedures, tatoo removal, hair transplant and laser hair removal,  and so much  more. 
But the participant needs to remember that these are not medical calls to mind the "Pretending" element that Marc Prensky talks  about in his article Interactive Pretending.

The format is user friendly and starts with beneficial information that is informative for the patient.  It goes through phases with buttons that enable you to repeat or skip ahead.  The graphic detailing is suberb.  The tool useage is very basic, and our simulation would require much more indepth manipulation...but all of the basics are there for a fact filled, fun simulation. 

I highly recommend for anyone who wants to play doctor, or just needs some information on an upcoming surgery. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My first attempt at Star Shooter

Ok - a gamer I am not...but fortified with a Hershey bar and the will to succeed...I downloaded my first video online game.  I chose this game, because I had read in my research that Star Shooter helped promote eye-hand coordination in surgical med students.  Since Amy and I are interested in suturing skills, we are always looking for games that will promote needed skills.  So if Star Shooter can enhance visuo-motor skills then it might be a recommended game for vet tech students to try. 

I was immediately fasinated with the colorful 3-d like graphics, and animations.  There was soft music in the background (I was sure to calm my nerves), and it appeared that I was seated in a cockpit of a plane.  The soft melodic tones were interrupted by gunfire and before I knew it an enemy plane was coming towards me with flashing guns. 

Where were the instructions?  How do you play?  What do I push?  There were no instructions, directions, coaching tips...Nothing.  So I imediately began to bang my mouse in hopes that my guns would begin to fire.  Within the minute I was destroyed by enemy fire.  I took a moment to catch my breath, sigh deep, and try again.  This time I manipulated my mouse right away, and was not so focused on the beautiful artwork on the scene.  In time and practice I learned how to zero in on incoming planes and planet destroyers.  I am too embarassed to really share my highest score, which only took me to level two, but I did learn the game by playing it.  I did feel a sense of accomplishment when I finally made it through the novice piece.  But my newfound pride was quickly defused with new challenges in level two.  Things moved quicker and there were more to destroy. 

I felt totally glued to the screen, and my sense of competition enabled me to continue time after time of being destroyed by enemy fire.  It did challenge my depth perception, reaction time, and my manipulation of the mouse. 

In all fairness and complete disclosure...I had to ask Kyle, my twenty-two year old son to play the game, so that I could view what happened at other levels.  He was completely engaged.  Although he shared a bit of dismay at not understanding how to manipulate the mouse, and complaint that there was not a controller like he was used to, he figured it all out in less than a minute and stayed completely engaged for forty-five minutes.  He was determined to be the high scorer and to reach the top level (whatever that is).  I was able to witness increased graphics and challenge with each upward level. 

I highly recommend the game as it was free, and could provide hours of enjoyment if you like blowing up planes, ships, and keeping the planet safe from aliens.  As far as educational value - I would not play it for knowledge content, but it did promote problem-solving, critical thinking and decision making.