The Learning Company – BodyWorks 6.0 DVD review

guts and everything
Photo of The Learning Company – BodyWorks 6.0 DVD

BodyWorks 6.0 sets out to be ‘complete and completely educational’. In its DVD version it naturally comes on just one disc, and the main screen is broken up into a display screen, a browser and a small text panel – you can change the sizes of each element to suit your preference.

The program is broken up into systems, models and lessons. Systems and models are based around full 3D images of organs and body systems, which can be freely rotated with the mouse. As you pass the mouse pointer over the graphics, areas are highlighted and named. Text is shown in the text panel and often spoken too. There are numerous links to associated descriptions in other parts of the program.

BodyWorks offers the option of excluding areas of its content with password protection, but it’s hard to see what there could be here that needs censorship. In most body systems, the male manikin is shown without genitalia at all. Within ‘the reproductive system’ itself, coverage is so cursory it gives nothing away. Reproductive anatomy is shown either as internal organs only or the body is shown in cutaway section, making it look more like racks of meat in an abattoir.

This lack of context is apparent in other areas, too. The 3D diagrams are fine if you want to rotate intestines and view them from behind, but magnifying the digestive tract to focus in on, say, the appendix, gives a heavily pixellated image with no extra detail. Seeing the tubes and organs from mouth to anus inside a simulated blue glass body may show where the tract runs, but gives no feel for how it interrelates with other organs – where the stomach lies in relation to the heart or lungs (parts of different body systems), for instance.

Some of the lessons are a missed opportunity, too. Described as movies, they show a static lecture theatre with a stationary lecturer (Dr BodyWorks) who uses a ‘holographic’ projector to display the organ or system under discussion. While this is sometimes well used, with helpful animation accompanying the lecture, all too often a diagram of the subject just rotates incessantly. It would be better to show the subject of the lesson full screen and to use higher resolution images – there’s plenty of room on the DVD.

The good doctor often rattles through her subject too quickly for general viewing, too. You can pause the instruction and start again from the beginning, but you can’t move to other points within it to revise specific parts. This is an American English product, so both pronunciation – CAPillary, rather than caPILLary – and spelling – feces for faeces – are unorthodox. BodyWorks is good on parts, but much worse when it comes to the body as a complete organism.

Company: The Learning Company

Contact: 01664 481563

BodyWorks 6 looks as if it's still to start using the DVD medium properly, particularly with MPEG-2 movies. Although most of the information is in there somewhere, some areas are unnecessarily sketchy.