Penn Dental Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School for its digital learning technologies that are transforming the way it delivers a dental education.
The School’s established digital learning technologies and online resources have greatly supported remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, says Chia-Wei Wu, Director of Learning Sciences and Technologies and head of the Learning Technology Team (LTT), which works with faculty to develop education technology solutions. Apple Distinguished Schools are, in Apple’s words, “centers of leadership and educational excellence that demonstrate Apple’s vision for learning with technology.” There are 470 such schools in 34 countries,
In 2015, Penn Dental Medicine launched its one-to-one iPad initiative, which provides each first-year student with an Apple tablet, along with the digital learning content and comprehensive support to use it as an educational tool. As iPads have become fixtures in the classrooms, faculty members have steadily adapted lecture materials to digital format.
To date, 76 digital textbooks have been developed, becoming primary classroom resources. They can be continually updated and offer a variety of interactive and video features that bring complex topics to life.
Wu says this digital technology is transforming the learning process at Penn Dental Medicine as the passive lecture hall model is being replaced by “flipped learning” models, which supplement traditional content with online resources and small group discussion. Students access digital material ahead of time, opening up more classroom time for discussion, analysis, and mentoring. In addition, the iPad features make studying and note-taking more convenient, Wu says.
Many exams and quizzes are now also done on the Apple tablet, making the exam process more efficient for both students and faculty, who are using data generated to evaluate learning, he adds.