How are 1st year Medical undergraduates using iPads?

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 08.19.51Since autumn 2013, the University of Leicester Medical School has been issuing each first-year undergraduate with an iPad. This is the first UK medical school to implement this kind of initiative.

Why did we do this? One of the main drivers was to solve the problem of having to print paper workbooks, which cost too much and then constantly need to be updated. Our solution was to simply format the workbooks into a nice shape for the full-size iPad, save as pdf, and distribute to the students via Blackboard. We then instructed the students to buy Notability (an app which reads pdfs and allows note-taking) and download the Dropbox cloud storage app, which works together with Notability and many other apps. We also instructed the students to bring their iPads to every class session. And then we watched what happened!

By their own report in several surveys, the students mainly used the iPads to read and annotate their workbooks, and to follow along in lectures, annotating onto pdf lecture slides. But it was beyond that use where things got interesting. Students worked together in small group sessions, discussing and drawing on paper, then at the end of the session photographing their notes and developing them individually later in personal study. Students created study groups on Facebook and shared documents and discussed. Students created flashcards of the names of muscles, for example, and tested their knowledge personally and in groups. Below is a list of apps which students mentioned in a survey, which they found useful, along with a brief description of what the app does or how students reported using it. After that is a further brief list of reported learning activities with their iPads.  I hope to report further developments on this initiative as it matures.

List of Apps mentioned by Year 1 Medical students and how they use

Notability – read, take notes on workbooks and lecture notes

Dropbox – storage space, keep their notes, serves as a go-between between some apps

Brainscape — create your own flashcards

Essential Skeleton – anatomy app

Teach Me Anatomy – anatomy app

YouTube – search for educational video

Essential Anatomy – anatomy app

Calendar – calendar syncs with university calendar

iMessage – direct message each other

Facebook – study groups

Adobe Reader – read workbooks and ebooks offline

Pages – opens Word docs, edit, save back as Word; create Word docs

Numbers – spreadsheets (to graph numbers and share in discussion with others)

MB Anatomy – anatomy app

Visible Bodies – anatomy app

Resuscitation – virtual patient simulator

OSCE skills – exam prep app

Anatomy Quiz – anatomy quiz

Simple Mind – mind map

Penultimate – handwriting app, saves into Evernote

Other interesting ways they are using their iPads:

Use iPad as a second screen – look at lecture slides on iPad, type notes on laptop

Use stylus and Penultimate to draw what they saw in dissection room

Use iMessage to share pictures and diagrams with other group members

Use Numbers to graph questions in group work

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, University of Leicester

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