Do iPads Make You Smarter?

A new independent study by the University of California - Irvine (UCI) revealed that medical students using iPads achieved significantly higher results than those in prior classes who did not employ the Apple tablets.

UCI's Monday press release stated that students who, since 2010, were engaged in a specialized program that offers med students fully-loaded iPads scored 23 percent higher on national exams than previous UCI med classes. This, despite similar incoming GPAs and MCAT scores.

"By having all aspects of our medical school curriculum on iPad, learning becomes a 24/7 opportunity no longer tied to the classroom or a desk," said Dr. Ralph V. Clayman, dean of the UC Irvine School of Medicine. "We believe our students are learning better than they have in the past. The digital platform has enabled us to effectively respond to this responsibility in a manner heretofore unimaginable."

It was in 2010 that the iMedEd Initiative -- "reinventing the traditional medical school curriculum," according to Clayman -- was first launched at UCI. It was the first such program in the U.S. to establish a completely digital, interactive learning environment for clinical training.

Part of the initiative -- through the full support of the John and Mary Tu Scholarship Fund -- allows for every student to have an iPad. Each tablet can access text books electronically and can also provide lecture podcasts, along with a plethora of other necessary data at students' fingertips.

"This multimedia approach has engendered a rich educational environment that accommodates all modes of learning, especially small group sessions," said the press release.

The initiative has worked so well, in fact, that iMedEd has been selected this year by Apple as being an "exemplary learning environment," one that "integrate[s] Apple technology into education and meet[s] criteria for visionary leadership, innovative learning and teaching, ongoing professional learning, compelling evidence of success, and a flexible learning environment."

"Our students' enthusiasm and willingness to discover new learning modalities is unparalleled, and they are key to the success of iMedEd," said Dr. Warren Wiechmann, an assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine and faculty director of the Instructional Technologies Group, which oversees iMedEd.

"It's extremely gratifying to see our students apply technology in innovative ways because we strongly believe that familiarity and comfort with technology will be essential for them to be skilled physicians in this new digital era of medicine," Wiechmann said.

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