iLead program recognized for innovative use of iPads by BSN students

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston School of Nursing (UTMB SON) has been granted the distinction of Apple Distinguished School for 2021-2024. The nursing school's program called iLead (Innovative Learning Environment Accelerating Discovery) was recognized for innovation in learning, teaching, and leading with technology in the classroom.

Apple Distinguished Schools qualify as centers of innovation, leadership, and educational excellence. These schools use Apple technology to connect students to the world, fuel creativity, deepen collaboration, and make learning personal.

Recognition of UTMB School of Nursing as an Apple Distinguished School highlights our success in creating an innovative and compelling learning environment that engages students and provides tangible evidence of academic achievement, said Dean Deborah J. Jones, PhD, MSN, RN. Delivering high-quality education is essential to our success, and iPad technology keeps everyone connected.

At orientation, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students are issued an iPad and Apple Pencil. Faculty members – most of whom are Apple Certified Teachers – employ Apple technology to engage the students in project collaborations, presentations, course assignments, simulation labs, and research activities in the BSN Traditional curriculum. Additionally the Apple technology is used to facilitate simulated clinical practice settings.

Our experience demonstrates that one-to-one iPad implementation facilitates students' active learning and empowers innovative pedagogy for educating future nurses, said Chair for Undergraduate Studies Patricia Richard, PhD, RN.

The power and immediacy of the iPad technology enhances students' engagement and encourages critical thinking in a manner equally accessible to all students.

More than 1,100 iPads have been distributed since iLead began in summer 2019, and students have reported that the iPad has been a positive addition to their learning experience. Having access to the iPad helped me better organize my notes and textbooks onto one device, saved me money by purchasing e-versions of the textbooks instead of paper copies, and really transformed how I utilize technology for learning, said Daniel Frost, 2021 BSN graduate. Before coming to school here, I had never used an iPad or tablet. I appreciate the efforts that everyone at UTMB has put into implementing this technology initiative.

UTMB School of Nursing has a tradition of embracing new educational technology, Dean Jones said. In fact, the graduate program began using iPads to facilitate clinical site visits. Sheba Luke, DNP, MSN, RN, assistant professor in our Department of Graduate Studies, confirms that the use of FaceTime to evaluate the progress of our nurse practitioner students in their clinical sites is an innovative method utilizing this technology.

Faculty observe the students via FaceTime on their iPads as the student performs a history and physical on a patient in their clinical setting along with their preceptor. This method proved to be an effective and efficient way to evaluate student clinical progress virtually versus in-person, said Luke.

The use of a videoconferencing platform for virtual clinical site visits provides the student an introduction to the concepts of telehealth as technology and information literacy is one of the nurse practitioner core competencies. The ability to be innovate and proficient with the use of technology is a necessary skill to develop for future health care providers.

We look forward to expanding iLead throughout the curriculum and further implementing innovative ideas for teaching and learning, said Dean Jones. The Apple Distinguished Schools program is by invitation only for accredited public and private schools that meet the program qualifications and eligibility requirements. Recognition is for three years, with an opportunity to be invited to continue in the program.

Read more about UTMB SON's iLead program HERE.