How the iPad is Changing Med School

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Paper or plastic? A Stanford student with textbooks for one class. @Stanford.

First-year medical students at Stanford University are finding a bunch of ways to use the iPad to help them learn.

The 91-first-year students who started three weeks ago were the first crop of pre-meds to be handed iPads.

Here’s how they’re using it:

  • to look closer

A slide presentation or textbook may offer a tiny diagram of a molecular structure that students need to memorize.  “You can’t even see that,” noted student Steven Sloan. “But on the iPad, you can just touch the screen to enlarge it.”

  • in place of paper and pencils

Student Christine Nguyen said she uses the iPad about 20 percent of the time, perferring her laptop the remainder for studying and in lectures. But she loves it for anatomy.
“Look at this,” Nguyen said, pointing to the rainbow of colors in an iPad program used for annotating documents. Simply touching a different color changes the highlighting. “It’s so useful for drawing in anatomy class. It’s a lot of fun. You customize it the way you want to use it.”

  • to lighten the textbook load. Instead of a 2-foot-high pile of textbooks for just one class, the lightweight iPad can store course material, school administrators explained to students during orientation hoping to convince them to go as paperless as possible

Still, the iPad isn’t meant to completely replace computers or pencil and paper.

Brian Tobin, the school’s instructional technology manager who doled out the iPads in August during orientation week, says he’s found there is no one single way the students are using the iPad.

“Everyone is doing their own thing,” said Tobin “Some students are learning on it really well. Others have decided that laptops are still the best option. Some still use paper. And others use some mix of all three.”

Via Stanford University Medical Center