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Peer Review

The Visible Human Project®



Overall Numeric Rating:

3.75 stars
Content Quality: 3.75 stars
Effectiveness: 3.25 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Jun 30, 2014 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: The National Library of Medicine established the Visible Human Project to create electronic images of the normal male and female bodies. It consists of two datasets of MRI, CT scan and anatomical images taken from cadavers: 1,871 cross-section images are available in the Visible Human Male Project and 5,189 images are in the Visible Human Female Project. The images were released in 1994 and 1995, respectively. Sample images from the datasets are available online; however, to access the full set you must sign a licensing agreement, return it to the NLM via snail mail and wait to receive a password.
Type of Material: This site is a database of material providing information and uses for images of a male cadaver and a female cadaver
Recommended Uses: This site can be used for people wanting to use the images for research or coursework.
Technical Requirements: A browser. Some of the applications require Java; files are quite large and may require extra storage space if the entire set is downloaded.
Identify Major Learning Goals: There are no specific educational goals relating to the Visible Human Project on this web site. The users will learn how to obtain a license allowing them to use the images from the National Library of Medicine. The site also link to example of the material being used.
Target Student Population: Undergraduate or graduate students studying human or comparative anatomy High school or undergraduate students studying medical ethics
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Students should have a basic understanding of human anatomy in order to use these images

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3.75 stars
  • The images provided are quite detailed and cover both male and female anatomy
  • The site provides links to applications of the images; some of these would be useful learning tools that don’t require as much contextualization as the images alone
  • The images of the cadavers aren't available on this site.
  • This site is only for information to use the images
  • Images do not contain labels.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.25 stars
  • The quantity of images available means that instructors could find illustrations to accompany almost any lesson in anatomy
  • Many of the associated sites are from educational institutions and include further contextualization and interactive activities
  • The images aren't actually available on this site.
  • You can not use this site to teach.
  • Instructors will need to build assignments around these images, providing their own learning objectives, assessments, etc.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
  • It is easy to use
  • It provides information needed to use the body images
  • Website links to projects (other websites, videos, and more) based on the Visible Human Project
  • Although anatomical images are timeless, the website design is outdated.
  • Many of the related applications and tools are no longer functional or appear outdated.
  • Accessing the full dataset of images requires mailing in a signed request form and waiting for a password to arrive by postal mail

Other Issues and Comments: The site provides a lot of information about the visible human project, but it doesn't provide the images. It tells the user how to obtain a license for using the cadaveric images and it provides examples of how they are being used.