Photo credit: Sandy Van

If any show prepared our generation for the future, Nickelodeon’s show Jimmy Neutron surely did. Flash back to your childhood for a moment and recall the metal box Jimmy brought on his adventures: the hypercube. The hypercube, a groundbreaking invention in the show, was able to transform anything Jimmy needed to the condensed size of a molecule.

The hypercube has now found its way from the CGI world of Jimmy Neutron into the palms of medical students at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. The iPad, UC Irvine’s real-life hypercube, allows for a virtually infinite amount of information to be stored in a single tablet device and has enabled an efficient and effective way for both learning and teaching in the classroom and at clinic hours.

This breakthrough will enable UC Irvine to take the lead in preparing its students with a modern education and give them the technological skills they will need for their careers. The use of technology to further education is something that all institutions, especially UCR, should take part in to allow students the full benefits of instruction. If the intention behind education is to prepare students for their future careers, shouldn’t students learn with the technology of the future?

The recently published study “Benefits of Technology Integration in Education” reveals that students’ ability and interest to learn increased following technology integration. Even more importantly, it better prepared students for the future workplace that will require the ability to use technology such as the iPad. Including technology enhances the education provided and teaches skills that are required in the daily tasks of tomorrow’s jobs.

The UC Irvine School of Medicine conducts a two-day orientation for students to speed-learn the “how to’s” for all the technology accessible to medical students, and an example of what needs to be placed in every medical school curriculum as well as every university curriculum. This is imperative skill training that many institutions lack. It also provides beneficial platforms for students that will be using the same, if not similar, technology in the workforce. Students from the get-go will be immediately immersed in technology and be required to use it throughout their schooling.

However, medical students are not the only ones in need of the technological preparation. Technology is found in every field. Instead of remaining in the past, allowing students the ability to use technology to its fullest potential is vital for any job in society’s new technologically-based workforce.

Dr. Mary Frances Ypma-Wong, a member of the Instructional Technologies Group at UC Irvine, noted that while iPads are very beneficial for the instructional setting, students were finding the iPad Mini to be even more manageable in the clinical field. “You have the world at your fingertips,” Ypma-Wong said. “It gives one the ability to show patients diagrams, such as a drawing of the heart, that give a clearer discussion on their symptoms.”

Such an ability to use technology in the workforce has allowed UC Irvine medical students a giant step ahead of the rest of medical students anywhere. Working with tools you will eventually use in a future career only makes sense. Being able to effectively use technology like the iPad early on provides a smoother adjustment to the newer technologies of the future.

Ypma-Wong further discussed the purpose of technology in UC Irvine’s curriculum: “Pedagogy is how you teach, technology is only there to support the pedagogy.” Technology definitely supports the curriculum at UC Irvine providing not only a more efficient way a learning that doesn’t require numerous books and a collection of miscellaneous notes but an adjustment into the future workforce.

The expenses of the new program, however, can be overwhelming and the UC Irvine School of Medicine was able to initiate it thanks to generous donations. But it should not deter the UC Riverside School of Medicine from following in the footsteps of UC Irvine and advancing its own curriculum with the addition of innovative and cutting-edge technology. In actuality the electronic version of textbooks are much cheaper than their real-life counterparts and while the initial investment cost of an iPad may be high, it saves both the university and students money in the long run.

Armando Gauna, formerly of The Instructional Technologies Group at UC Irvine School of Medicine, was a tremendous help in the iPad implementation process on that campus. Interestingly, he is now the IT Project Manager at UC Riverside Medical School. This gives hope that the UC Riverside Medical School will begin its own future-based curriculum and hopefully influence UC Riverside to follow suit. These new benefits at the UC Irvine School of Medicine will hopefully encourage UC Riverside’s own medical school, as well as other schools, to create even more innovative ways that technology can assist and prepare students for the future.