Frustration at trying to lecture to a large first-year health science student audience about skeletal muscle led to the development of a computer animation of the microscopic process of muscle contraction. The animation was used as a moving overhead projection in a lecture setting, and was played from various points before being stepped through frame by frame to highlight the different parts of the process. The trial and evaluation of the use of this animation in Semester 1, 1995 was well-received by students and staff.
The second product of this work is an Interactive Multimedia tutorial, called Sarcomotion, which provides information and explanations of parts of the contraction process plus background information relating to skeletal muscle contraction, calcium metabolism and energy turnover. The animation forms the user interface by which the students access the tutorial. Students explore the moving animation with the mouse to get basic descriptive information, and click to access more specific information on each individual topic. Navigation through the specific information is provided by a series of questions, based on actual experience of the range of questions typically asked of the lecturer by the students.
The tutorial is designed to allow for access to a range of resources outside the scope of the tutorial itself. This is achieved by a link from the tutorial to a World-Wide Web home page. This leads to the concept of finger food multimedia, where a platter of other resources on the Web are served as finger food, from which the student can choose to use as little or as much as they wish.
This paper describes the development approach and formative evaluation of the first prototypes of the Sarcomotion program.