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iPads today, what might tomorrow bring?
Incorporating iPads into a preclinical curriculum: A pilot study. George P et al. Medical Teacher 2013; 35:226-230.
Reviewed by Jean Petershack


What was the study question?
What are the effects of integrating iPads into the preclinical medical school curriculum?

How was the study done?
First-year students were required to acquire an iPad. The impact of iPad use in the first year of medical school was evaluated with two student satisfaction surveys, at one and six months after implementation, and two focus groups.

What were the results?
Overall, students found iPads useful, more in the 1st than in the 2nd survey. Helpful aspects of iPad integration included decreased paper use, not needing to carry heavy books, better interactivity with lecture material, and use of the 3D dissector. Disadvantages mentioned were difficulty taking notes on the iPad, a limited number of medicine specific apps, some iPad-based textbooks were not user friendly, and use in classes can be distracting because students use the iPad for personal activities. 50% of students supported continuing the iPadbased curriculum, 50% asserted that other electronic devices should be used instead. Printing costs for the medical school decreased by 50%.

What are the implications of these findings?
This study looking at advantages and disadvantages of iPad use in the preclinical curriculum might be helpful as a starting point for more rigorous evaluation of the use of technology in medical education.

Editor's note: Coincidentally, I am at the institution (Brown) that produced this study. The lead author, Paul George, recently commented on the COMSEP listserv: "We really discovered that our student population appreciates the integration of technology into lectures and small group; they don't want to be told what device to use in order to access that technology."(RR)

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