Those who had spent their college days listening to boring lectures and jotting down notes on paper notebooks will perhaps lament not having access to hi tech gadgetry that is fast catching up in colleges and other centers of learning. In fact, this is the age when students stepping onto the college scene for the first time are doled out the latest wonder device from Apple – the iPads and that too completely free. We have seen such instances before where freshmen in the Illinois Institute of Technology or the Stanford University have been provided with iPads that are supposed to aid in the teaching process. And now, it is the first year students of the UC Irvine Med School who are the latest beneficiaries of the free iPad for freshmen scheme.
However, the medical school isn’t just stopping at providing the students with free iPads as part of their initiative to adopt new emerging technologies but they have even taken the game a step further by going for a comprehensive, iPad-based curriculum which forms part of their new iMedEd Initiative.
“We are committed to using evolving technology to benefit the education of our medical students,” said Dr. Ralph V. Clayman, dean of the School of Medicine. Dr. Ralph also added: “It is our firm belief that a digitally based curriculum will be the wave of the future, and UCI seeks to be a leader in the innovative presentation of information to students.”
It is in effect a new interactive learning environment that the medical school wants to adopt and is perhaps the first to do so. And what better device to implement the new initiative than the iPad. The highly portable tablet PC with 16 GB of on board memory and integrated 3G modem includes a huge database of medical applications. The tablet device also conforms to the iMedEd Initiative that aims to replace the usual lecturer-passive listener model and instead, have in its place a scenario where the students will have all that they need to succeed at their fingertips.
Among the other benefits of the iPad that the students will find immensely helpful to further their educational goals are a plethora of tools to account for the different learning styles of different students. Apart from including everything that the students will need for the initial year of course work in digital format like the first year textbooks and slide presentations, the iPad for the new students at the UC Irvine Med School will also allow students to view short lectures via podcast before group discussions. Students will also be able to access audio and video libraries via their iPads while future plans are just as exciting as such technologically advanced concepts like digital stethoscopes or even hand held ultrasound devices are currently being tried out to make them compatible with the iPads.
As Dr. Warren Wiechmann, director of the school’s instructional technologies puts it: “Our goal is to foster highly individualized and small-group learning for a richer medical school experience.” He further added, “The timing is right. Students are coming to us from top-tier schools where podcast and small-group learning is the norm for undergraduates, but most medical schools still teach in the traditional way.”