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Education Update: Medical College of Georgia

MCG Becomes a Leader in Technology-Infused Curriculum

by Damon Cline

Colin Booth walked into the lecture hall and, using a baseball bat handed to him just moments earlier, took a hearty swing at the desktop computer monitor in front of him.

The standing-room-only crowd watched the third-year School of Medicine student reach into the monitor”s bulky, cracked casing and pull out a sleek, black rectangle.

The object was an Apple iPhone, and on it was what everyone had come to see: MCG Mobile.

The university”s customized suite of iPhone applications”the first for a U.S. medical school”features tools ranging from campus maps and course schedules to calculators that can help students figure out IV dosages and manage a patient”s cholesterol levels.

The message behind MCG Mobile”s dramatic unveiling this summer was clear: The Medical College of Georgia has become digital, mobile and accessible 24-7″just like its students.

Colin is part of the millennial generation that makes up more than 78 percent of MCG”s student body. He”s been online since his early teens and he”s as comfortable scrolling through a handheld device (such as the iPhone he always carries) as he is fipping through a textbook. To this tech-savvy 24-yearold, having high-definition video and a wealth of data at his fingertips day or night is not the novelty that it is to older generations.

“I have Netter (medical illustration) flash cards on my iPhone, so I can study anatomy wherever I am,”# the Macon, Ga., native says. “Why would I want to lug around a heavy textbook?”#

MCG Mobile is the newest, but not the only, high-tech learning tool the university has developed for today”s “wired”# students. Many cutting-edge initiatives have been developed in recent years, including virtual-reality patients, video games and 3-D simulators, to make MCG”s curriculum more interactive and accessible.

Nursing and allied health students, for example, can practice on computerized mannequins so lifelike they can bleed, salivate and even cry. Dental students can perform dozens of dental implants on virtual patients before ever touching an actual person. Physical therapy students learn to analyze problems with balance and gait (affecting for instance, stroke or Parkinson”s patients) in a computer lab that analyzes every single motion.

Along those same lines, occupational therapy students use a computer game, the Nintendo Wii, to help Parkinson”s and other mobility-impaired patients improve their coordination in a virtual environment. And campuswide technology, such as the Tegrity “lecture capture”# service and the Wimba Web-based distance education tool, are changing the very meaning of “going to class.”#

“A classroom isn”t a brick-and-mortar room anymore, it”s wherever you happen to be,”# says Michael Casdorph, MCG”s director of Instructional Support and Educational Design, who helped design the MCG Mobile applications.

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