Ohio State’s pioneering use of new technology expands the educational process
By Jay Hansen
The new technology was in the headlines in late August when Chris Kaeding, the director of sports medicine at Ohio State, used Google Glass while performing knee surgery. Google Glass has a frame similar to traditional eyeglasses, but instead of lenses, there is a small glass block that sits above the right eye and contains a small computer screen. It also features a camera that provides a point-of-view image of the surgery.
Kaeding used Google Glass’ capabilities to communicate with a colleague who was watching the surgery from an offsite location, marking the first time the technology has been used in that way. But while this first was impressive for Ohio State, perhaps more impactful was the other part of Kaeding’s audience — Ohio State students watching the surgery via a Google Hangout.
“I’ve shadowed in the operating room, so I was excited to see it from a different perspective,” said Courtney Gilliam, a second-year medical student at Ohio State. “Even though we were in a different room, it seemed like we were right in the operating room and watching the surgery from Dr. Kaeding’s perspective.”
The close perspective is what most intrigued John Davis, Ohio State’s associate dean for medical education.
Davis watched the Google Hangout along with Gilliam and a number of other medical students. He was impressed with the way the technology enabled students to have a better learning experience than they may have when they are actually in the operating room.
“Having been a medical student, I remember times I spent in the OR, and while I might have been assisting in some small way — and in some instances I was — it was very peripheral,” Davis said.
“It meant that I really didn’t have an opportunity to see some of what is going on in the surgery the way I wanted to. Seeing it through this technology was really exciting. It made me want to go back and do surgery rotations all over again.”
The value of Google Glass as a teaching and learning tool is something that fits perfectly within Ohio State’s goal of using technology to advance education. The university’s Digital First initiative already has scored a number of successes, including:
- Faculty and staff have collaborated with Digital First to provide 26 public courses and 20 public collections via Apple’s open education iTunes library. In an average month, OSU on iTunes U has more than 135,000 page views, downloads of more than 85,000 items and streams of more than 40,000 videos.
- Ohio State’s initial foray into massive open online courses (MOOCs) resulted in the creation of three programs that enrolled more than 100,000 students in 150 countries.
- The university is offering “boot camps” to faculty and staff interested in creating either an iTunes U course or a digital book enhanced for iPad (iBook).
Ohio State’s pioneering role in using Google Glass is just one of the latest ways the university is leveraging technology to enhance the learning experience.
“Having the first crack at this technology is something that only really happens at a place like Ohio State,” said second-year medical student Ryan Blackwell, who also participated in the Google Hangout in August.
Blackwell was impressed with the technology and saw more applications for the technology that can help improve health care around the world.
“You can have a physician examining someone remotely with the help of a third-party person who can be the doctor in the room with Google Glass,” Blackwell said. “Ultimately, I think this is going to help improve global health care because it can bring doctors into an underserved region without having to leave their office.”
From Davis’ perspective, the opportunities presented by Google Glass are a necessary part of continuing to expand the way students and teachers look at the educational process.
“I feel it is our responsibility to continue to explore and find new ways to make teaching better and more accessible,” he said. “Some of the technological advancements are allowing that to happen at a pretty fast pace.”