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Anatomy Flashcard Learning System

Gutenberg to Jobs: The Rapidly Changing Educational Landscape

Bob PozosComment

Not since the invention of the Gutenberg press has education been faced with such radical changes produced by the advent of the web. The widespread use of digital technology 24/7 access to the web, and many digital devices such as smartphones, iPads, etc., has completely transformed society including the educational systems. How do we as instructors reach/teach our students in this brave new world?

The modern faculty is faced with a changed landscape of education. I will just list a few of the major changes that have occurred.

·          *Flipped classrooms in which the student has already read  the material before lecture so the
            classroom becomes a seminar:

 ·         *Online course in which the student does not have to attend class  

 ·         *Students evaluating and “rating the professors” minutes after the class

 ·         *A flood of digital tools that do pretests, post tests, evaluations etc

 ·         *The need to “edu-tain” our students

 ·         *All the material any student might need or want is on the web.

 In addition, the modern students are more tech savvy and according to some studies more narcissistic or more anxious. The classroom has expanded to the world and it is no longer a cozy small world of students and faculty in which there is a real time exchange of information.

What is the consequence of these changes as we teach the sciences? There are so many options for getting material from the web that students swim or drown in it. Assigned textbooks in the sciences have always been large and unwieldy but now the student is inundated with a variety of workbooks, online atlases &resources, and other aides such as clay models.  What is required is a concise digital tool to learn the material and assess their knowledge.

 I was (and still am!) concerned with students “drowning” from different resources to study biology or anatomy /physiology.  Many students do not have a strategy on how to approach studying large amounts of material yet there are many web-based options and they spend precious time in these pursuits. (What happened to the old days of only one textbook?!?)

Observing in my classes these problems, I designed Anatomy Flash Card Learning System (AFLS) so that it meets the need of having concise information and assessment in a digital format that students prefer. As a neurophysiologist I was attracted to cognitive psychology as I developed AFLS.  The term “boring” comes up a great deal when talking to students about courses and material.  AFLS has “learning tables” which has all the information they will require but also it has a number of built in interactive components so the student can quiz themselves. The interactive components make the material less boring and continuous mini-tests reinforces long term learning. (For more information about AFLS go to http://www.digitalanatomyflashcards.com/)

As a faculty member, I am aware how we all teach differently. We all have our favorite textbooks, subject areas of anatomy, additional exercises, etc. AFLS was designed as a comprehensive supplement not a new book so as to fit with any curricular approach.  

As Bob Dylan sings “Times they are a changing”!  As I have counseled my faculty colleagues, postdoctoral fellows and undergraduate students: ”Prepare for the revolution in education”. There is no turning back. If we do not adjust to this major cultural/technological change, the educational revolution will leave us behind similar to what occurred with those industries that did not adapt during the advent of the Gutenberg Press. In that context, AFLS is my first step to continually adapt to the changing educational landscape.