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Applied physiology lab makes use of new tablet technology

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Three hours is a long time. Spend them looking at different pictures in a textbook of the human body and you might stop paying attention. When the textbook picture looks nothing like the specimen you have to work with, you’re likely to
lose interest.

How do you enhance a three-hour applied physiology laboratory experience? SMU has turned to technology to answer that question.

Applied Physiology and Wellness Professor Scott L. Davis applied for a technology grant last spring. He worked with Info Commons Tech Coordinator and Touch Learning Center Manager Tyeson V. Seale to discover the applications for iPads.

Now the applied physiology department has four applications for their 25 iPads: Brain & Nervous Pro, Heart Pro, Muscle System Pro and Skeletal System Pro all designed by in conjunction with Stanford University School of Medicine. These applications show the different parts of the human anatomy and how they work and move from different angles.

“You see a lot of the students spend more time with the iPad animation than they would with a static model or the book, which translates to increased knowledge.” said Kelyn Rola, applied physiology laboratory instructor.

Technology is not new to the applied physiology department. Before purchasing these applications, students used a computer-based cadaver software that let them see specific cuts of the human body. However, it was not interactive and only showed a 2D view.

The ultimate goal for Davis and Rola would be to have human cadaver access for students to see and touch. However, because typically only medical schools can have human cadavers, the new applications serve as an alternate.

Even though these applications cannot substitute for the official classroom textbook, they serve as an interactive tool to help students better understand the different human systems.

One of the big advantages of the applications is the animation. With Muscle System Pro III, students can actually see real time movements of a selected muscle from two different angles. With Heart Pro, students can see the heart, its different chambers, how the blood flows and the heart beating in real time.

Seale explained that it is also a good investment for students on their own iPads. Most of these applications cost $19.99, which is cheaper than most textbooks and they will update themselves as needed. Also, by having these apps on their personal iPads, they can get familiar with the systems at home, do exercises and even quiz themselves on their knowledge, Davis said.

“If you want to buy it, you have it. If not, you can still go use it in the TLC,” Davis said.

As part of an investment decision to move forward in the technology world the Central University Libraries and the Office of Information Technologies purchased 15 iPads two years ago.

These iPads can be lent out to students for a maximum of four hours. They each include $150 worth of applications in different areas of interest, including these from


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