Apple in Education Profiles

Improving Literacy with iPod Touch

iPod touch enables medical students at Ohio State University to listen to lecture podcasts on their own time. This allows for a deeper understanding of the course material and inspires professors to transform their class time into more interactive discussion sessions.

The inspiration

Since 2000, the Ohio State University College of Medicine has had a PDA program for its students. But because the devices were unreliable and lacked functionality, their educational potential was limited. And while the medical school had been podcasting its lectures, students could only view them on a computer, as their PDAs were unable to provide portable access to the podcasts.

iPod touch was introduced to Dr. Catherine Lucey, Vice Dean for Education at the College of Medicine, by Justin Harper, a medical student and member of the student council. Harper championed the device as a way for students to take podcasts with them, as well as data, curriculum materials, a broad set of built-in features, and medical apps that detail everything from human anatomy to pharmaceutical information used in clinical care. As part of a pilot program, students with different levels of medical training and technical savvy tested the device for several months. During that time, students, residents, faculty, and administrators explored the capabilities of iPod touch. After seeing the many ways it was used to teach and learn, share information, further students’ training, and enhance patient care, the medical school made iPod touch and iPhone its exclusive portable devices. Every student now carries one, with incoming freshmen choosing the device that best suits their needs.

“With the storage and capabilities of the iPod touch, I can carry the whole med school curriculum in my pocket at any given time.”

— Justin Harper, fourth-year medical student, Ohio State University College of Medicine

The implementation

Because of the existing PDA program, funding to provide every medical student with an iPod touch or iPhone was already incorporated into the university’s tuition and fees.

Considering the effort involved when an institution transitions from one mobile platform to another, there were some bureaucratic obstacles to overcome. But advocates of the new platform, led by Dr. Lucey, persevered. Once the larger university community learned about the devices through hands-on demonstrations, they embraced the medical school’s new direction.

The former PDA program demanded a significant amount of IT support. Because iPod touch and iPhone require minimal support, IT time has been repurposed to optimize the medical school’s lecture podcast program. Thanks to that investment, the first two years of the Ohio State medical school’s lectures are now available on iTunes U.

The results

The adoption of iPod touch and iPhone has significantly affected the way students experience lectures and the way professors design their class sessions. The ability to watch lectures before going to class, using them as prereadings, allows students to pace their learning — reviewing information for clarity or speeding past content they already know. It liberates professors from simply lecturing to students, enabling them to create more interactive, collaborative sessions. Students are gaining a deeper understanding of the material and are more engaged in the process.

In the hospital, residents can do more real-time teaching. And they can enhance patient care using the nearly unlimited amount of reference material and medical apps iPhone and iPod touch place at their fingertips.

The university is currently redesigning its curriculum to further personalize each student’s education using iPod touch and iPhone. Not only will students be able to access information, the university will also be able to track what they’re learning and how they’re performing, to ensure that students continue their development while gaining the range of experience necessary to become great physicians.

The process

See how Dr. Sorabh Khandelwal uses a Mac, Podcast Capture, and the Podcast Producer 2 service to produce and distribute his lecture podcasts. Watch the video

Products they use

iPod touch and iPhone

These devices — and the apps made for them — are perfect for on-the-go learning. Learn more about iPod touch and iPhone

Mac and Mac OS X Server

Podcast Producer in Snow Leopard Server is an easy solution for capturing, encoding, publishing, and distributing podcasts. Learn more about the Mac and Mac software

iTunes U

Find lectures, language lessons, audiobooks, and podcasts and download them for free. Learn more about iTunes U

See how students and teachers from Central Elementary School are using iPod touch to improve literacy. Watch the video and read the full story