Learning on the go? At 3 new schools, there’s an app for that
iStockphoto / Patrick Sinco
Without upperclassmen to advise them on the relative importance of all they’re learning, students at brand-new medical schools may actually study too much, suspects Cory Banaschak, OMS I, who attends the Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MU-COM) in Indianapolis, one of the three DO schools that welcomed their inaugural classes last month.
“I think I’ve studied more this past month than I did in my four years of undergrad college combined,” Banaschak, says. “We don’t really know how much we should study because there are no second-years on campus to tell us what we need to know.”
“The first day we got our iPads and turned them on, all of the programs we needed started downloading and all of our textbooks showed up. It seemed magical.”
But Banaschak and several other students at the new colleges of osteopathic medicine believe they may have an advantage when it comes to learning because their schools were designed with the latest technologies and pedagogical insights in mind.
One of 162 students at the Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine (CU-SOM) in Buies Creek, N.C., Melissa Davies, OMS I, is grateful that her professors post videos of their lectures. Most of the textbooks are electronic as well. Campbell gives each student a thin, lightweight laptop computer, and most students also have their own smartphones or tablets or both.
The flexibility afforded by the latest electronic devices, which interface with state-of-the-art technology in classrooms and lecture halls, suits the current generation of Web-native osteopathic medical students, especially those with family responsibilities.
The mother of a 2-month-old, Davies must pump her breast milk three times a day. “That’s when my iPhone comes in handy,” she says. “During those times, I can use an app on my phone that allows me to directly listen to the lectures. I also have a Blackboard Mobile app that allows me to access uploaded lecture notes and slides. And I have an anatomy app that is a great study tool.”
The father of two young children, Erasmo Espino, OMS I, says he appreciates being able to view class lectures at CU-SOM at his convenience.
“The technology is here to help us succeed,” Espino says. “Even though Campbell has a mandatory attendance policy, most students get a lot out of re-watching lectures and reviewing professors’ PowerPoint presentations.”
The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) in Dothan gave each of its 150 students a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet. “It’s a touch-screen tablet with all the functionality of a desktop computer,” says Garrett Harrison, OMS I. “It’s also a good tool for note-taking during class because you can write directly on the surface with a stylus.”
At MU-COM, all of the textbooks are electronic, and each of the school’s 162 students received an iPad.
“The first day we got our iPads and turned them on, all of the programs we needed started downloading and all of our textbooks showed up,” Banaschak says. “It seemed magical.”
“Everything we do at Marian is paperless,” adds Kelly Sue Pringle, OMS I. In addition to reading their textbooks on their tablets, students use an app called Tegrity Campus to listen to lecture recordings and review slides.
MU-COM encourages students to rate each lecture using the ResponseWare app provided on their iPads. “After a lecture, we are asked whether we felt the presentation was average, above average or below average and whether we understood the material,” says Katharine Lindsey Neff, OMS I. “I really like how the professors want to make sure you understand everything.”
Marian students also take all of their examinations on their iPads. “Marian uses software that locks up our tablets, so we can take our exams without accessing our texts or study notes,” Banaschak explains.
Although the new colleges require students to use the issued technology in certain situations, students do have some leeway.
“We all seem to be doing something a little bit different,” Prindle says.
Some MU-COM students use a stylus and the iNotes or iAnnotate app on their iPads to write on PDF files of professors’ PowerPoint presentations and other prepared notes. But Prindle would rather type her classroom notes using a keyboard for for her iPad.
While she likes the tablet, Neff prefers to use her laptop for note-taking during class. “I’m so used to taking notes on my MacBook that it’s just what I do,” she says.
Students at the new colleges have not gone entirely paperless, though. Banaschak, for one, finds it helpful to sketch out what he is learning in anatomy and biochemistry, and he writes down important facts on paper. “It’s my way of studying,” he says.