Over the past several years there has been quite a bit of conversation about replenishing the ranks in this career field. Many industry leaders such as AAMI have highlighted this growing concern and AAMI has made YouTube videos highlighting this career field. As many of the early biomed professionals have begun to retire and many planning to retire in the next several years this is a very valid concern for the HTM career field. I have written in the past about the lack of students coming into the field and have asked each of you to help by steering any potential candidates to a reputable school for training. This training of the new ranks, however, will be much different this time around – as it always is.
The changes are apparent when you look at the use of technology in the classroom over the last 50-plus years. I look back at how my professor was trained. The technology he used was a slide rule, a Simpson meter and an oscilloscope. About 25 years after him I was trained using calculators, DVMs and a Radio Shack TRS-80 computer. Since then we have had an explosion of technologies that have found their way into the classroom. The biggest technology advancement we have seen in the educational world is the Internet and all the information that can be accessed in the learning environment. This technology was not very easily accessible when we only had a dial-up connection, but Wi-Fi and the ability to stream video means we can use it every day in the classroom.
Over the past two years, I have experienced a new trend in education. Educators refer to it as dual enrollment. A dual-enrollment student is a high school junior or senior who takes college courses at the local community college. These students receive credit for their high school requirements and also receive credit toward a college degree. It is a wonderful benefit to these students, but it seems the younger the student the more the Internet comes into play regarding education.
I pride myself in trying to use different technologies in the classroom and really enjoy using YouTube and other resources to enhance the learning experience. I like using the TechNation Webinar Wednesdays series to bring new information to second-year students in the BMET program. I also use other online resources like Fluke training videos found on the company’s website. However, after two years of teaching these younger students it is apparent to me that my use of technology in the classroom must be upgraded.
If I want to capture the attention of today’s youth I must integrate their smartphone into the classroom. This is a major change in the world of educators as phones in the classroom has been taboo for many years now. I know of colleagues that have a no cellphone policy in their classrooms, but they always complain about how students are always texting or updating their social website instead to paying attention to the class materials. Over the years, I have seen many instructors struggle with a phone policy. These policies have included everything from turning in cellphones at the beginning of class and picking them back up at the end of class to no use of cellphones in class. Another policy is for students to make sure their phones are silenced during the class and requires students to step out of the room if they must receive or make a call.
This spring semester I have begun to integrate smartphone technology in one of my classes and more than likely will expand into other classes. The way I see it, if the students are going to be on their phone anyway I might as well integrate learning materials in that format. With most websites today the display will resize to whatever device you access the site with. So instead of fighting the new wave of technology in the classroom I am going to embrace it. One article I read about smartphone integration into the classroom talked about using an app called Remind101. This instructor stated that after using this app homework assignment participation went up dramatically. The instructor said he had always just assumed the students were lazy and didn’t do their homework when in actuality it appears they just forgot. A reminder on their cellphone is all it took to get better participation. An app I have started using is polleverywhere. This app allows me to poll a class to get immediate feedback about many classroom activities which allows me to modify course material for better retention. The students seem to love it as participation is virtually 100 percent.
So, if you take a class or see a class and the instructor begins class with “Break out your smartphone” don’t be alarmed, it’s just the new slide rule.
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