Monday, 6 February 2012

iPad Use in Science - Using Apps to Supplement Teaching

Last week, I covered electrocardiography (ECG) with a group of my students. In addition to some 'lecture' based material, and some practical use of ECG measurement and recording in the laboratory, the students had a play with the Nova Professional Series Heart Pro III app on the iPad.

The app is developed in collaboration with Stanford University School of Medicine and East Tennessee Cardiovascular Surgery Group, and is certainly highly credible in terms of accuracy of content. The Nova 3D4Medical series offer a range of anatomical and physiological apps, that may well be worth a look for other relevant courses/departments at UCS. Certainly, I've seen software at 100 times the cost that is far less informative (and certainly less intuitive) - this app was approx. £13.

In more general terms, and perhaps more widely relevant, was how how much the students enjoyed using such tools to supplement their learning. Whilst dissecting a heart can be an excellent learning experience, you can't make an inert piece of dead tissue 'jump to your tune', and watch/re-watch simulation models of it's function. The students reported that the exploring nature of using the app was a real plus (there's a learning style definition here isn't there - help me people!). We all know the old saying of a picture can be worth 1000 words. Well in these apps, you have motion videos, created/developed by world class experts. If a picture is worth 1000 words ---- we need a new colloquialism!

Lastly, so as not to get carried away, I don't think these types of learning tools replace the need for structured learning, I think they complement it. Whilst the students were left at times to go and explore and play with it, the app was also used at key stages to visually demonstrate certain key bits of theory in a more formal/structured way. That still needs the human being to dictate that part.

Anyway, for those working in similar fields, you'll also be aware of the exorbitant costs of most educational software. This was a brilliant learning tool - and it cost less than £15 (no conflict of interest here - commission etc. :-). Any further info' wanted like specific app use during this ECG session etc., please get in touch/reply.


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