Medical School puts UNE Strategic Plan into action

Published 06 November 2011

ipadThe University of New England announced today a major teaching innovation using the National Broadband Network (NBN) – an innovation that exemplifies the University’s aspiration, as outlined in its newly-published Strategic Plan, to lead the nation in the use of educational technology.

UNE’s School of Rural Medicine will be the first medical school in Australia to incorporate iPad technology and the National Broadband Network (NBN) into its course delivery strategy. Starting in 2012, the University will provide iPads – and the necessary technical support – to first-year medical students as part of a pilot program.

Together with the University of Newcastle, its partner in the Joint Medical Program (JMP), UNE offers a five-year Bachelor of Medicine degree program. The use by UNE’s School of Rural Medicine of iPads linked to the NBN is designed to eliminate any disadvantages faced by the School in delivering the joint program from its regional location.

“UNE has a long-standing reputation for excellence in distance education and the innovative use of e-learning technologies,” said Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions. “This latest innovation is a further expansion of that strategy and an immediate response to the direction outlined in the Strategic Plan. The use of iPads linked to the NBN is an example of how the University is making that Plan a reality.”

UNE has an affiliation with the University of California Irvine, which was the first university in the United States to use iPads in its medical school. Stanford University and the University of Minnesota soon followed suit.

“The introduction of iPads linked with the NBN  is a decisive step by  UNE’s School of Rural Medicine in levelling the playing field in the delivery of the JMP program,” said Professor Peter McKeown, the new Head of the School.  “Students in remote places will be able to access courses online using the iPad as an interface.”

“The introduction of iPads is only one part of our strategy with our University of Newcastle colleagues to build the best medical school in Australia,” Professor McKeown continued.  ” It’s important to remember that a poor-quality lecture remains a poor-quality lecture no matter what the delivery medium. As part of our mission to improve the quality of medical education, we will focus on making every educational endeavour interactive and meaningful – be it a lecture, a simulation experience, or a problem-based learning session.  Ongoing assessment will be an integral part of the program.

“The iPad will allow us to use the advantages of the Internet and the NBN to deliver the JMP program to students in any part of the State, the nation, or the world.”