The School of Medicine is in its thirteenth year of a laptop requirement for all first year medical students. Students are required to purchase a CCI model laptop, which is distributed during orientation. As a part of orientation, students take part in a one-and-a-half hour training session where they discuss how the laptop will be used in the medical school environment, IT security and general campus policies for campus networks.
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The CCI laptop is an essential part of the student’s everyday life. In the first two years of the medical curriculum, 160 students in each year take the same courses at the same time. Each course integrates content from a number of different medical disciplines; as a result, there can be as many as 30 instructors per course. Students can bring up the appropriate PowerPoint presentation on their laptops during class and take notes.
To gauge how well students understand lectures, the School of Medicine faculty utilizes an audience response system in each lecture hall. The students use a program on their CCI laptops (Vpad) to respond to the questions that are projected on the screen. Students have said this addition to the lecture has helped their understanding of the difficult material.
The School has also developed an online testing system (AIMS) which is used for all exams in the first two years of medical school. The system has three components and students use their CCI laptop to access all exams. The secured exam component is used for high-stakes tests, such as midterm or end-of-course exams. The non-secured exam component is used for tests (such as take-home exams), that allow students unlimited access to test questions and study resources. The self-assessment component is used as a study tool to provide students with immediate feedback on their performance, including their score and justifications for correct answers.
The school’s latest initiative is to establish a lecture capture system for all first and second year courses. Students will be able to play classroom lectures on their CCI laptops for review or further study. The school hopes to have a system chosen and installed in time for the fall semester.
In the thirteen years since the School first implemented a student laptop requirement, the use of laptops in the curriculum has continued to evolve. In the early years of the program, students received some of their materials in electronic form and used their laptops for communication with faculty and fellow students. Today, 100 percent of the medical student curriculum is delivered electronically, students take all of their exams online, and they are able to provide instant feedback to faculty via the audience response system.