iPad Pilot

iPad Pilot Program for Health Sciences Library

A growing number of colleges and universities have launched pilot  projects to test how the iPad might be used to produce a positive impact on  student learning, research and engagement. Medical students in the United  States are tested extensively throughout their four years of medical school,  including both regular course examinations and standardized tests. The first  standardized examination encountered by US medical students is the United  States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) step one, produced by the National  Board of Medical Educators (NBME), taken upon completion of the second year of training. Passing this examination is a significant milestone in the medical school curriculum, as most schools require students to pass before promotion to the third year.

Students can and do use review materials throughout all four years of medical school. Many of the basic science courses in medical school curricula utilize standardized exams such as the basic science subject exam, which is administered more than 30,000 times annually. Standardized exams are also used in the clinical years to ensure a student’s progress from basic science to clinical science in preparation for  graduate medical education (Shultz, 158). Many of the review resources are designed and heavily used for the  specific subject areas of clinical rotations. Given the importance and  extensive use of these exams in progressing through the curriculum, access to  review and study materials is of utmost importance to medical students.

In light of the wide variety of learning styles exhibited by  students, it comes as no surprise that multiple resources in a variety of  formats would be employed in preparing for these high-stakes examinations.  Given the popularity of exam review materials, the Health Sciences Library in its  mission of supporting the medical school curriculum wants to provide students  with access to a wide array of sources in this area to meet the needs of  students with varying learning styles.

In the early spring 2011 the Director of the library approached  myself and our acquisitions librarian about a study published in the April 2011  issue of the Journal of the American Medical Library Association in which Duke  University Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bryan, Texas, and Scott  and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas were loaded with USMLE specific content on to Kindle e-readers and distributed  to students (Shurz, 2011). He wanted to know if this was something our library  could do and would we investigate further. While we had some texts available to  the students in hard copy, we didn’t have enough copies to provide for all  students. The idea was that we could have 20-30 e-readers available to students  with copies of a variety is USMLE texts for circulation.

The acquisitions librarian and I met to review the study and to  assess and compare what content was available from Amazon and B&N for their  perspective e-readers. The library had recently purchased 2 iPads for staff to  become more comfortable with and to use for work-specific projects, meetings, conferences, etc. We included  the apps and books available from the iTunes store with Amazon and B&N.  What we found was that the books were comparable; however the applications  available put the usability of the iPad over and above anything that the Kindle  or Nook could provide. We them put together a proposal that the library make  these 2 iPads available for circulation with the USMLE content as well as some  e-texts to students and staff of the campus.

The goals for this pilot are as follows:

  • Provide students at the Anschutz Medical Campus with access to a  durable, highly functional tool to support study and research
  • To integrate rich online academic resources such as digital  textbooks, scholarly sources, content rich multimedia to support study and  research.
  • To hance student learning with a focus on the USMLE and similar medical

As our pilot has only recently been implemented with a soft-start, and will be on-going whether it can be considered a success or failure remains to be seen. However we believe that the Health Sciences Library iPad pilot program offers something innovative and unique to the student of the Anschutz  Medical Campus. It provides the potential to empower and uplift students in their learning, study for mandated testing and research. To maximize effectiveness, medical education in the 21st century has to be active, engaged, and customized for students. Students must have universal access to mobile technologies that will enable critical thinking, differentiation, and problem solving. It is our belief that the technology in Apple’s iPad meets these needs and more.

With the new iPad2 and the updates to the iOS, we feel that developing a phase 2 of the pilot will be more productive. We can hopefully concentrate more on addressing how to actually enhance instructional material and delivery. Also, we hope to be able to find ways to incorporate it into  improving administrative workflow.



About Library, Mission, Vision, Values and Goals – Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado Denver.  (n.d.). . Retrieved July 11, 2011, from http://hslibrary.ucdenver.edu/about/mission-values-goals.php

Clark, D. T. (2009). Lending Kindle e-book readers: first results from the Texas A&M University project.  Collection Building, 28(4), 146-149. Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/10.1108/01604950910999774

IT Services | About Us | University of Colorado Denver. (2011). . Retrieved July 11, 2011, from http://www.ucdenver.edu/about/departments/ITS/Pages/index.aspx

The Role of Technology in Libraries | Pikes Peak Library District. (2010). . Retrieved July 11, 2011, from http://www.ppld.org/whats-new/role-technology-libraries

Shulz M, Kies S. Materials employed by medical student preparing for subject examinations: supporting collection  development. J Med Libr Assoc. 2008;96:158–60.

Shurtz, S., & von Isenburg, M.(2011). Exploring e-readers to support clinical medical education: two case  studies. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 99(2), 110-3. doi:10.3163/1536-5050.99.2.002

Ugaz, A.G., & Resnick, T. (2008). Assessing print and electronic use of reference/core medical textbooks. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 96(2), 145-147.

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