The School of Medicine has purchased nearly 100 iPads to distribute to this fall’s incoming class as soon as it starts school this month.
According to Charles Prober, the senior associate dean for medical student education and professor of pediatrics, microbiology and immunology, the iPads will help the medical students enjoy a more comfortable and portable learning experience.
“It’s like a telephone book — instead of memorizing all your contacts, you can easily refer to them within a device,” Prober said.
Students will receive instruction on how to optimally use the iPads, according to Prober, and coursework material previously distributed to students in hard copies will be loaded onto the iPad.
Recent admits were initially surprised by this development, according to Hong-An Nguyen ‘10, an incoming medical student this fall.
“We were all very shocked,” she said. “We definitely weren’t expecting this to happen, and we’re generally really excited about it.”
The implementation originated from discussions within the department and student suggestions.
Prober emphasized the device’s portability, and believes that its ability to hold a large amount of information will improve students’ quality of education and life.
“Students can carry information not only in their brains, but also with them within the iPad,” Prober said.
“When students get into clinical experiences and have a vague recollection of something they heard during class, it will be easy for them to go back and remind themselves what that was, and [they] can recall prior knowledge instead of going home searching through their syllabi,” he added.
In addition, the transition is a step toward being more environmentally friendly, moving from hard copies to electronic ones.
“The number of pages that get printed are astronomical, so we will be able to save trees,” Prober said.
Other advantages of the device include electronic annotation devices, advanced computer imaging and access to information gleaned from external sites on the Internet.
“Because a lot of the medical school teaching is becoming in more of a digital format, having an iPad will help facilitate it,” Nguyen said. “I think it’s really exciting. There might be some glitches here and there, but we’re all pretty excited to use the iPad.”
Prober also outlined some possible detrimental effects of the move.
“The potential con would be if students are not skilled with technological devices, and if they’re not familiar with computer usage and other electronic devices, but I can’t imagine too many students like that,” Prober said. “It may be less effective for students who would prefer to do stuff with pencil and paper in hand.”
The School of Medicine is nonetheless placing its faith in a generation known for being familiar and comfortable with the electronic medium.
“Many if not most of the current student population are very comfortable in using these modern information technologies,” he said.
Students will receive their iPads during orientation from Aug. 18 to Aug. 20. According to Prober, the administration “will be evaluating the experience with this incoming class” and see if the school should continue providing iPads to future medical students.