During the academic year 2004/05 faculty members reviewed an electronic textbook software package called Vital Source Bookshelf.
VitalSource is a leading provider of digital content solutions in education. The company enables publishers, distributors and other partners to create and deliver textbooks and other content directly to users' computers in its proprietary VitalBook file format under a variety of scenarios, ranging from custom curriculum solutions to private-label bundled products, as well as single textbook and promotional content delivery to students and faculty in both secondary and post-secondary educational settings.
A number of American dental schools were already using this product
A motion to introduce the Vital Source Bookshelf into the curriculum beginning was introduced and passed during the July 2005 Faculty meeting.
During this same time period, the Office of Clinical Affairs had been grappling with the daunting task of trying to find ways to install computer technology in 205 dental clinic cubicles in order to enable students to access their patients' clinic records and radiographs at chair side via our electronic patient information system called Axium.
This initiative also included trying to find a way to enable students to use the information available through Axium to schedule patient appointments, update progress notes, prepare class presentations and develop custom reports while working outside of the clinic.
After reviewing similar arrangements at other universities and colleges, we felt it was necessary to implement a mandatory laptop program in order to provide technical support to the students using Vital Source and Axium.
The mandatory laptop program was introduced to first-year dentistry students in 2006.
The computer of choice is a MacBook Pro, this choice was based on reliability, stability, speed and support infrastructure already in place. The computers are provided on a two-year lease in order to keep on top of changing computer technology, and to ensure that the computers are covered under warranty for the duration the four-year program.
The laptops are pre-loaded with all of the required software, including: Microsoft Office, Vital Source, Endnote, iWork, McAfee VirusScan as well as access to the Clinic Information System (Axium) and two drug databases (LexiComp and CPS) through the Kellogg Health Sciences Library website.
Technical support and training is provided onsite by Dalhousie's Academic Computing Services staff.
A reliable back-up service for student computer files has also been established.
Printing and scanning services are available through the Carleton Campus Computer Lab which is conveniently located inside the Dentistry building.
During the Spring of 2008, two clinic cubicles were outfitted with the necessary equipment and peripherals for laptop use. Second year dental students have been asked to provide feedback on the set-up, accessibility, keyboard options and aseptic arrangements in these demo cubicles. Dental cubicles will be equiped for laptop use by third year Dental students beginning in September 2008.
The laptop program is an exciting new addition to our program.