Stanford University School of Medicine Breaks
New Ground With Wireless Interactive Learning System
Medical Students Use Bluetooth-Enabled Palm Handhelds and Pico
Communications Access Points to Connect to Instructors
CUPERTINO, MILPITAS and PALO ALTO, Calif., Sept. 10 Pico Communications,
Palm, Inc. and Stanford University School of Medicine today announced
the successful trial of a new wireless interactive learning system
for medical students.
This summer, students used Palm m125 handhelds equipped with
the Palm Bluetooth Card, a Secure Digital Input/Output card that
slips into an SD/Multimedia expansion slot on many Palm handhelds,
and Stanford's custom-designed software to communicate wirelessly
with instructors via Pico's
PicoBlue Internet Access Points. Pico designs and markets access
points based on Bluetooth wireless technology, allowing users
handhelds to quickly and securely connect to the LAN and Internet
while preserving battery life.
The Stanford University School of Medicine conceived of the project
several months ago as a way of improving the quality of classroom
interaction between medical students and instructors. Instead
of asking for the traditional show of hands or engaging in one-on-one
question and answer sessions in a large class, the instructor
electronically polled the class in real time. The new approach
is faster and it provides more accurate feedback due to the cloak
of anonymity it lends to students. Based on student responses,
instructors were able to dynamically tailor course material to
meet the needs of a particular class.
"Our students come from very different backgrounds,"
said Dr. Pat Cross, professor of structural biology at Stanford.
"In the same class, engineers,
English majors and Ph.Ds in biochemistry sit next to each other.
Being able to more precisely fine-tune our content leads to better-educated
ultimately, better-trained medical professionals. The key is really
the anonymity the students have. Their answers are more truthful
since there is no public embarrassment for answering incorrectly."
In developing the new system, Stanford sought to improve upon
currently available polling systems based on proprietary technologies.
"We wanted a
cost-effective solution that would take advantage of open standards
and that would allow students to use their Palm handhelds for
hours at a time. The
Bluetooth networking solution offered by Pico and Palm is a great
option for us," said Dr. Henry Lowe, director of IT, Stanford
University School of Medicine.
Each time an instructor started a poll, students used their Bluetooth-enabled
Palm handhelds to connect wirelessly via PicoBlue access points
in the classroom to a web-based polling server developed by medical
students and the Stanford University School of Medicine's IT department.
Responses were logged almost instantaneously and tallied by the
server. Notified when each student had responded, the instructor
then projected the results for the entire class to see.
"Based on the success of this trial, we envision deploying
this solution more broadly across the entire medical school, particularly
as use of Bluetooth-enabled Palm handhelds increase," said
Todd Grappone, assistant director of development, wireless and
mobile computing at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
"Currently, the majority of Stanford medical students have
a Palm handheld. It's just a matter of time before they all have
this type of capability." Grappone added that the trial also
allowed students to familiarize themselves with the same networking
and computing technologies now becoming prevalent in hospitals.
"Stanford's implementation of this wireless, interactive
learning system is bound to generate a great deal of interest
from medical schools across the country," said Mike Lorion,
vice president of education at Palm. "Already dozens of medical
schools have discovered that Palm handhelds are very powerful
learning tools. Stanford is breaking new ground in demonstrating
how handhelds and wireless technologies can lead to systemic changes
in learning. Others will watch with interest."
About Stanford PDA Project
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