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Students welcome computer notebooks

Trading paper for technology enhances learning, students claim; universities expand curriculum to include interactive classroom activity
Nov 01, 2004
By dvm360.com staff

URBANA, ILL.—The University of Illinois's (UI) veterinary college has added personal computers in the form of tablets to the classroom.

A pilot program for first-year veterinary students was conducted last year and shows using electronic course notes on tablet computers rather than in paper format enhanced learning in the perception of most participants.

Nine of the 11 study participants are continuing to use the tablet note program in their second year of veterinary school.

Dr. Jo Ann Eurell, associate professor at the veterinary college, says the technology allows students to add handwritten notes and highlight or flag text much as they would with paper copies. Students can also search files and their personal annotations.

While tablets offer study perks, they cannot be used in the messy environment of an anatomy laboratory and battery life is often short.

Increasing access

Still, many new students have asked to receive notes electronically, and colleges are planning to incorporate additional technology in the classroom.

The University of California-Davis (UC-Davis) is expanding the number of campus locations allowing wireless Internet access, and last summer, it added wireless access points to various high-traffic areas, including the Shields Library.

"I think the biggest benefit of wireless access is efficiency, to allow students, staff and faculty to work where they are and where they want to work, rather than where wired access is available," says Chris Brandt, instructional media development specialist at UC-Davis' veterinary school. "It allows them to be more efficient and get more done."

On board

Similar to the iPod project at Duke University, the veterinary school launched a PDA program to fully utilize the benefits of wireless technology.

The program, called VetPDA, involves hosting an entire Web site that contains files with information such as patient records, diet and fluid comparison charts, specific diseases and study guides. All this information can be downloaded to a PDA for easy access, and veterinary students can retrieve new information with wireless access at any time.

A wireless signal is dispersed from base stations or hubs. This frequency allows information to travel as far as 150 feet indoors.