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  Sarcomotion Design Team

"Sarcomotion: Using interactive multimedia for self-directed learning about muscles"


Design Team
  Team: Georgina Fyfe and Sue Fyfe


  Focus: Concept/Procedure Development
  Discipline: Public Health & Medicine
  Target: Undergraduate (early)
  ICT used: Interactive multimedia on CD-ROM
  Scope: text

Designer's Summary


This learning design focuses on the use of interactive multimedia animation to facilitate students' construction of knowledge about the contractile properties and activities of muscle.

Students are provided with their own copy of the interactive multimedia program: Sarcomotion on a CD-ROM or they can access it from the WebCT sites for each relevant unit.

The program centres on an animation of the molecular processes involved in muscle contraction. The animation has minimal instruction so that the students can watch the process and form a dynamic model in their minds.

Each of the main "characters" in the program (e.g. calcium ions, actin molecules) can be selected and more information can be followed up in a number of ways. Additional resources concentrate on scale or on questions students ask about where things come from and what they do. These questions can be selected to pop up in a random way by a spin of the dial, or in selected sequences. For example, students may choose to ask the same question of each of the main characters, or may choose to ask all the questions of just one of the characters (or any combination in between.)

The answers to the questions are provided by text or animations embedded in the program. The idea is that students viewing the animation will open up a resource on top of the animation to answer questions that occur to them as they view the animation. This is what we call the "pile-of-textbooks" analogy – resources can be opened and closed on top of the animation just as you would open reference books on top of something you were studying on your desk.

Rationale for Inclusion


This exemplar has been selected for inclusion for the following reasons:

  • The learning design is centred on the use of animation to assist students in their learning of muscle contraction and properties.
  • The learning design has been influenced by the constructivist approach to learning as the aim is to encourage students to construct and synthesise their own knowledge about the content and the role of the teacher is to faciliate this process by providing appropriate materials and support to students.The development of this exemplar was funded by the former Australian Government Committee for the Advancement of University Teaching, CAUT.
  • It represents a learning design that was developed in 1994 and is still being implemented. The Sarcomotion program has been used in various ways in every semester since 1995.

Please Cite As:

  Fyfe, G. & Fyfe, S. (2002). Description of Sarcomotion: Using interactive multimedia for self-directed learning about muscles. Retrieved , from Learning Designs Web site:
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