Multimedia Teaches Athletic Training Majors

Making the most of every minute is not just a cliché for students in Radford University’s nationally accredited athletic training program. With more than 850 hours of clinical experiences to fit in during their junior and senior years, the students welcome any strategies that help them make the most of their time.

Now, Athletic Training Education Program Director and Associate Professor Angela Mickle and Assistant Professor Michael Moore have developed an instructional technology product that should help do just that, and it is based on a gadget most students have right at their fingertips — the iPod or iPad.

Multimedia-based demonstrations of exercise techniques, lectures, lessons, charts and more are now available though a “cyberspace library” of knowledge housed on the university’s iTunesU page. Moore says there are 284 clips, including sound bites and lectures, on the RU iTunes site ranging anywhere from 15 seconds to 15 minutes in length.

Athletic training majors at work

Athletic Training Education students (left to right) Kayla Perkins, Kasey Blankenship and Ian Burns practice field techniques.

“I believe we are unique in that we not only record samples of special tests, etc., but we also record our lectures for iPods and iPads,” says Mickle. Moore, who explained the concept during a recent presentation at a Virginia Athletic Trainers Association State Conference, said he is aware of at least one peer institution that has adopted the technology they have developed.

Web-based instructional technologies are a fairly common adjunct with many curricula these days, but they require a cellular data connection of access to a local network. The value of the iPod technology is the portability and the convenience it allows for making the most of available short bursts of time.

“Students report looking/listening at the podcasts when walking to class and when working out,” says Mickle, who says the study device is an excellent complement to classroom work.
While a useful instructional supplement, the program is not intended to be a student’s sole learning tool in the athletic training program, cautions Mickle. “This is to be used in conjunction with textbooks and is designed to go hand-in-hand with other things we do in the classroom,” she says.
Most students already have video-capable devices, but those who do not can rent an iPod for $50 a semester or $100 for the entire year. Most students, however, have opted to spend the $200 or so for one of their own.

“Peers at other institutions have said this is the coolest thing they have ever seen in the classroom,” says Moore. He and Mickle have made several presentations on their techniques at state and national conferences.

The product has actually been several years in the making.  Approximately five years ago, Mickle and Moore began using a small digital video camera to record student skills. From there, they were able to conduct assessments, gain a better understanding of how students learn and determine best practices.

ipod touch with athletic training app

Multimedia technology and access to an extensive array of content promotes efficiency and productivity for busy athletic training students.

Initially, the education professors found the demands of producing their own instructional technology somewhat challenging.

“At first it was overwhelming because of the time it took to capture the skill demonstrations, edit them and convert them to iPod format,” said Moore, who noted a small learning curve associated with the production and conversion of digital clips. “But it is relatively easy if the technology cooperates.”

Mickle and Moore spent a summer filming and editing videos and lectures, and adding audio and still photos. “It was ‘low-tech’ in real time,” recalls Moore. John Hildreth, assistant director for the Technology in Learning Center, recorded lectures and developed the athletic training modules.

Students, who are required to spend a specific amount of hours in the classroom, report the digital technology gives them extra learning time that fits more seamlessly into their busy lifestyles.

“It’s a great concept,” says senior Stephanie Cushman, of Richmond.  “We have so many different classes and so many different professors. This outlines everything in front of us, and we can just look it up on our iPod when we need it. I use it before tests and can look at the pictures without sound when I need to. It lets me just look at notes without having to carry a lot of books.”

The first-time pass rate for students taking the Athletic Trainers’ Certification Examination has increased from 25 to 50 percent, according to the professors, and the availability of the study aid, as well as number of new quality enhancement initiatives, could play a role in that.

The university’s athletic training major has been approved by the State Council on Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) and is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).