Thomas Jefferson U. launches interactive iPad curriculum

New curriculum platform uses iPads to meet students where they are – on mobile devices.

ipad-ipadsThe Center for Teaching and Learning at Thomas Jefferson University has launched its Interactive Curricula Experience Platform & App – or iCE.

This new, web-based platform allows for multidisciplinary collaboration on course development throughout the university and delivers content to students through an intuitively-designed iPad application.

Faculty members from each of Jefferson’s six colleges are already building modules and courses on iCE in preparation for the Fall 2016 semester.

(Next: How university faculty are using the web-based platform)

“iCE meets students where they are, on their mobile devices,” said Anthony Frisby, Ph.D., Director of Thomas Jefferson University’s Center for Teaching and Learning. “In addition to being a collaborative course creation tool and delivery platform, it supports the diversity of our students, putting them in control of their learning. Students can delve deeper into topics that interest them or brush up on a previous lecture before an exam.”

Faculty can use iCE to share course materials like lectures, presentations, interactive quizzes, videos and articles. In addition, it fosters cross-campus collaboration among faculty in Jefferson’s six colleges, which leverages the expertise of each faculty member and promotes efficiency.

The platform creates a central repository where faculty can create or download resources, edit to fit the needs of their students and package into a custom course. It then delivers these packaged resources to students according to their course registration.

iCE promotes learner-centered education and provides opportunities for members of the faculty to integrate innovative approaches to education such as flipped classrooms.

Beta-tested in the Fall of 2014, iCE received an overwhelmingly positive response from students and faculty alike.

To create iCE, Jefferson collaborated with Digital Wave, a user-focused web and mobile application development company based in Philadelphia, Pa., and Chesapeake, Va. For over a year, Digital Wave worked closely with Jefferson faculty and students, listened to their needs and goals, and developed the platform and interface through an agile, collaborative process. The end result is a product that’s innovating how education is delivered.

Digital Wave and Jefferson have entered a licensing agreement to bring this interactive platform to market. Digital Wave is in talks with other institutions about licensing the platform and will be aggressively rolling out a branded version of the product in the 2016 academic year, as well as partnering with more content providers.

The university is finding new, innovative ways to use the platform across campus as more staff are trained through the Center for Teaching and Learning.

For example, the University’s Global Health Initiatives Committee is tasked with creating educational products that can be infused in curricula of Jefferson’s six colleges, as well as resident and fellow training. When the committee found out about iCE, they saw a solution to one of its biggest challenges: How to effectively deliver information about global health to faculty and students across the University?

“Our inter-professional committee brings together expertise in global health from around the University including nursing, medicine, population health, pharmacy, physical therapy, bioscience technologies and more,” said Janice Bogen, Assistant Vice President of International Affairs at Thomas Jefferson University. “We wanted to create useful resources for faculty to integrate global health into their curriculum. This is information our students need to be leaders in healthcare. iCE allows us to do that seamlessly.”

Without iCE, the committee was planning on distributing presentations to faculty by using a series of conventional slide decks. Topics include working with medical interpreters, social determinants of health, and an introduction to refugee health.

“Slide decks mainly serve as cue cards for the content experts who create them, but their effectiveness decreases when used by someone else,” said Nicholas Leon, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice in the Jefferson College of Pharmacy, and Co-Chair of the Global Health Initiatives Committee. “An iCE designed module can allow a wide array of faculty and staff to facilitate learning on a subject, in this case Global Health, even if they themselves aren’t the expert.”

With iCE, the Global Health Initiatives Committee is uploading interactive content directly to the platform. Faculty can easily grab, edit and deliver content directly to students. Best of all, the content is created by experts in the field of global health.

Members of Jefferson’s Global Health Committee and staff from the Center for Teaching and Learning published their experience with iCE as a poster and presented it at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health in Boston, Mass., in March 2015.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Laura Ascione

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