Penn Dental Medicine has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School for its digital learning technologies, which are transforming the way it delivers dental education, according to the school. Its established digital learning technologies and online resources also have greatly supported remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, the school added.
Apple Distinguished Schools are centers of innovation, leadership, and educational excellence that use Apple products to inspire creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking, Penn said. They showcase innovative uses of technology in learning, teaching, and the school environment and have documented results of academic accomplishment, the school said.
“The Apple Distinguished School designation honors our long-term commitment to using innovation and technology to enhance teaching and learning,” said Penn Dental Medicine dean Mark Wolff.
In 2015, the school launched its one-to-one iPad initiative, which provides each first-year student with an iPad along with the digital learning content and comprehensive support to use it as an educational tool. As iPads have become fixtures in the classrooms, faculty members have steadily adapted lecture materials to digital format, the Penn Dental said.
“Our goal is always the advancement of learning,” said Chia-Wei Wu, director of learning sciences and technologies and head of the Learning Technology Team, which works with faculty to develop education technology solutions. “We strive for a level of digital literacy among students and faculty that enables a seamless integration of technology into the learning experience.”
So far, 76 digital textbooks have been developed, becoming primary classroom resources. They can be continually updated and offer a variety of interactive and video features that bring complex topics to life, the school said.
The digital technology also is transforming the learning process as the passive lecture hall model is being replaced by “flipped learning” models, which supplement traditional content with online resources and small group discussion. Students access digital material ahead of time, opening up more classroom time for discussion, analysis, and mentoring.
Also, Penn Dental said, the iPad’s features make studying and note-taking more convenient. Many exams and quizzes are now given on the iPad as well, making the exam process more efficient for both students and faculty, who are using the data generated to evaluate learning, according to the school.
For Wu, the Apple Distinguished School designation pays tribute to Penn Dental’s dedication to a digital environment that takes learning to a new level.
“At Penn Dental Medicine, we are all speaking the same language,” he said, “and it’s the language of education technology.”