Fully Wired: Med Students Receive Tablets This Week

This Wednesday, the iPad officially became a part of the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s curriculum. All first-year medical students – 103 of them – received a personal device.

Beginning next year, first-year students will receive iPads during orientation.

“The iPad will allow easier access to educational material,” said David Lambert, M.D., the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s senior associate dean for medical student education. “The iPad also will promote more interactive learning, and more online learning that students can do on their own time.”

The School plans to purchase digital versions of textbooks and chapters of textbooks that then would be available through the iPad. It also hopes to eliminate the printing of syllabi, and move some course materials – like those for Problem-based Learning classes – away from paper handouts.

“We’ll save a lot of trees, and students will have less to carry in their backpacks,” Lambert said.

The iPad program began with only the first-year class – a soft launch of sorts, as education leaders work to confirm the infrastructure and build the syllabus.

“We’ll get comfortable and learn from the process,” Lambert said.

Miner Library librarians – who will provide all support for iPad use by medical students – worked together with their IT and e-learning staff to train the first-year students on use of the iPad Wednesday. (Miner recently won a Technology Improvement Award from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine to purchase iPads for the library and for staff training).

Students received the base model, 16-gigabyte iPad2 without cost. But more than half the class decided to purchase upgrades. The School also provided three apps: GoodReader (a PDF annotation app), iWork Pages (a word processing app), and iWork Keynote (an electronic slides presentation app).