We have been experimenting with the use of Muscle System Pro III app on iPads to facilitate student learning on a first year, semester 1 module on the undergraduate Occupational Therapy degree programme. Analysing Movement module enables students to learn observation skills and then apply these to analyse individuals completing everyday occupations, also known as activities of daily living. This includes being able to analyse the motor skills, processing skills and the contextual influences on successfully participating in occupations. Students learn to understand the implications for individuals with disability and how they may apply therapeutic interventions as future professional occupational therapists. As part of analysing participation in occupations, students learn to identify muscles that enable joints in the body to move and analyse the muscle action.
Usually, this learning is done through use of lectures, workshops, links to web sites, YouTube and key texts. Whilst these are helpful for students, we felt that using alternative media with some level of animation that would illustrate the 3D nature of the body, would enhance their learning and ability to understand the concepts. We are increasingly aware of how much students interact with these media so felt it was a worthwhile chance to capitalise on this experience.
The iPads and app were used to enrich and supplement the learning in workshops, faciliated by lecturers. Students worked in small groups of 5 with an iPad as part of a larger group of 18-24 students. Students quickly embraced the idea of using the iPads and app – many had prior experience of using the technology if not the app and assisted those who were novices. Students were clearly working as co-learners. Subsequent to the workshop, a short questionnaire using Survey Monkey was sent to all students [n=115] asking them to share their experiences. This was overwhelmingly positive, a response that surpassed even our expectations. Using the app helped students to understand musculoskeletal anatomy in a more interactive way. This helped to improve their knowledge by accessing the information icons, identifying and naming muscles, viewing animations to help their skills of analysis and becoming aware of the features offerred by the app that they could use as a resource to help their independent learning away from taught sessions. The level of interest, active participation and engagement observed in the students was rewarding, for students and staff. Many students have subsequently purchased the app as a result of using it in one workshop and some have stated they have purchased an iPad! Many students report using the app on their iPhones.
An opportunity for independent practice prior to the workshops for the 3 lecturers who deliver and structure the sessions, was really beneficial and made us much more aware of the potential benefits of using the technology. This was a new foray into the use of apps and iPads for myself, as the module leader. The support and guidance from Lena Henderson and Dasha Zhurauskaya was excellent.
In thinking about the future, we anticipate this approach becoming more mainstream for the teaching team. Whilst this is a new strategy for us, we envisage using a range of apps on iPads in future workshops and lectures and are actively considering their application on numerous modules. We plan to use some alternative apps on the Analysing Movement module before the end of the semester. We plan to ask the Dean to consider purchasing additional iPads for FHLS as a worthwhile investment in exceptional student learning. We are grateful to the staff in Learning and Teaching Development at YSJU for purchasing the Muscle System Pro II app and installing this onto the iPads. We are liaising with our line manager regarding the purchase of other apps and accessing relevant free apps. If we have dedicated iPads in the faculty, this should enable us to access them more readily instead of booking with another support service – more to go around!