Web-Based Simulation Games for Medical Education

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*Jiří Kofránek, Marek Mateják, Pavol Privitzer, Tomáš Kulhánek, Martin Tribula, Filip Ježek
Charles University in Prague, Laboratory of Biocybernetics
Oral Presentation – Practice Track
Saturday, Sept 29, 2012: 9:20 AM – 9:40 AM- LK120

*Presenting Speaker

Background
The connection of the Internet and interactive multimedia environment with simulation models provides quite new pedagogical opportunities, particularly when it comes to explaining complex interconnected relationships, active exercising of practical skills, and verifying theoretic knowledge. Our goal was to design a web teaching tool, which helps to explain the function of individual physiological systems using interactive multimedia connected with simulation model.

Methods
Development of the web simulation games requires combination of research and development work. Research work consists in formalizing physiological reality by designing mathematical models of physiological systems, while development work is the very creation of interactive multimedia simulators, which make use of the mathematical models designed.

A scenario of tutorial using simulation games, created by an experienced pedagogue, still remains the foundation of the e-learning program. Creation of animated images is the responsibility of artists who make interactive animations in the Flash or in the Expression Blend environment. In order to increase efficiency of creating the graphic layer in the Expression Blend, we have developed an auxiliary software tool, which enables the designers – graphic designers to create such animation “puppets” and debug them without the need of any further programming. Thus created “puppets” can be then connected to simulation model outputs. The core of the simulators is the simulation model, created in the environments of special development tools designated to create simulation models. Now, we use a very efficient environment, which utilizes the Modelica simulation language. We created a special software tools for interconnection between simulation models developed in Modelica and web-based graphical user interface.

Results
Instruction models by themselves are therefore not enough for efficient teaching. They should be accompanied by explanation of their use – preferably with interactive educational multimedia. The possibility of using all of the advantages of virtual reality to explain complex pathophysiological processes arises only upon establishing a connection between the explicatory part and simulation game play. In order to exploit the possibilities offered by interactive multimedia and simulation models in medical teaching, we have designed the concept for an Internet computer project, the Atlas of Physiology and Pathophysiology. It is conceived as a multimedia instruction aid that should help to explain, in a visual way and using simulation models, the function of individual physiological subsystems and the causes and manifestations of their disorders. The Atlas thus combines explanation of physiological subsystems (using audio and animation) with interactive simulation, all available for free from the Internet – see http://physiome.cz/atlas.We have used this tool in biomedical education in Charles University Prague. Our experience with the use of this tool in education show that simulation games with a model can contribute to better understanding of the role of particular regulation circuits in the pathogenesis of various medical conditions, as well as better understanding of subsequent therapeutic interventions.

Conclusions
Educational applications using simulation games, available through the web, represent a new educational aid, pedagogically efficient in explaining complex pathophysiological processes.

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