Road-testing tablets for teaching and assessment

colourful image on a tablet computer of a microscope slide of cells in the femur of a rabbit with zoom and rotate tools visible on screen

An annotated slide displaying the cells in the femur of a rabbit used for teaching.

Photo from MSDLT (all rights reserved).

Tablet devices in the classroom offer exciting tools for today's medical students - apps for virtual microscopes or responsive diagnostic tools, for instance. There are some big practical advantages over laptops, PCs, and mobile phones too: they're highly portable, wipe-clean (which is handy in a lab environment) and big enough for small groups to gather round and problem-solve together.

The Medical Sciences Division Learning Technologies Group (MSDLT) has been exploring a variety of benefits and fresh approaches that tablets can bring to traditional teaching and assessment situations, as well as the challenges involved in bringing the very latest devices and apps into the classroom.

Fifth year students were set a formative, open book assessment on the tablets. In a follow-up questionnaire, many of them expressed a preference for the tablets as it meant that they did not have to travel across the city to one of the online assessment sites equipped with desktop computers. Since then, summative exams have been run successfully for groups of around 30 students.


Using the tablets as virtual microscopes alongside conventional microscopes has significantly increased student engagement with a traditionally unpopular part of the course.

– Member of the course team

Case study

Taking the tablets: mobile support for learning, teaching and assessment in Medical Sciences



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