URMC Professor Joining Global Community of Innovative Teachers

Feb. 21, 2013
Jeffrey M. Lyness, M.D. is Named “Apple Distinguished Educator”

This year, the University of Rochester Medical Center’s School of Medicine and Dentistry became one of the nation’s first medical schools to implement a fully electronic curriculum. Jeffrey M. Lyness, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, was instrumental in making that happen. Lyness is now being asked to share his passion and ideas for innovative teaching with educators around the world.

Apple Inc. has invited Lyness to join the Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2013. Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE’s) collaborate on solutions to global education challenges, advise Apple on technology integration in learning environments, share their expertise with educators and policymakers, and motivate one another to continually transform education. Selected through a competitive process, ADE’s reside in nearly 40 countries worldwide.

“I hope to learn much about the ways people at other institutions, and in other parts of the world, are using technology,” says Lyness. “I will bring back what I learn to share with my colleagues at URMC. I’ll also spread the word about the incredible things we are doing here.”

Under the leadership of David R. Lambert, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Medical Student Education, Lyness and other faculty formally launched URMC’s iPad initiative last fall. The School of Medicine and Dentistry provides all first-year medical students with iPads, which are theirs to keep. The electronic tablets are loaded with their course syllabi, interactive electronic textbooks, practice quizzes, and educational apps. The students use the devices to take notes, study, and prepare engaging presentations employing video, images, and sound.

“We have seen an explosion of creativity as the students enliven their self-teaching with media-rich presentations,” says Lyness. “This provides a much more memorable experience.”

Lyness says he is seeing a similar response from faculty as they become adept at incorporating technology into their courses. Some passive lectures are being replaced by individualized, interactive exercises. Several faculty members are creating their own iBooks and other learning tools, enriched with animations and interactive graphics to convey key concepts. Microscope-based laboratories are being replaced with electronic images and digital slides. 

By using iPads for their studies, students are also being readied for the real world. With the growth of electronic health records and extensive, Web-based medical resources, clinical settings are becoming increasingly digital. Next year, third-year students will use the tablets during rotations. Students will be able to use the devices to teach others on their team and to instruct patients and families.