JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
As the use of digital textbooks in schools continues to increase, hard-copy textbooks are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Even more so after the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to transition to remote and hybrid learning, resulting in the skyrocketing use of electronic textbooks, or eBooks, and audiobooks in the classroom.
The Medical Education and Training Campus at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, is no exception. The Physical Therapy Technician, or PTT, program is the first of METC’s 48 programs to permanently shift to eBooks for student learning.
“Students are no longer issued textbooks or student handbooks,” stated Army Col. Mae Miranda, the PTT program director. “Instead, they are issued laptops but can also use their own personal laptops or other devices to access the 14 eBooks. The PTT Program of Instruction briefs and other PTT course materials are accessible on SAKAI, METC’s Learning Management System, or LMS.”
SAKAI is integrated with the Joint Knowledge Online LMS to extend capability for university-style distance learning, and also enables synchronous, or live instruction, distributed and collaborative learning capabilities.
The PTT program, which trains enlisted Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard students, transitioned to eBook utilization as the result of an Interservice Training Review Organization (ITRO) Resource Requirements Analysis (RRA), conducted in January 2020, that determined a revision of all existing PTT course objectives was required, as historic references were deemed obsolete.
“The consolidated curriculum had not been updated since the METC PTT program stood up in 2011,” Miranda explained. “The program was directed through the ITRO RAA process to conduct a 100% rewrite of the 626-hour consolidated curriculum, the 54-hour Army and Navy-specific curriculum, as well as the 32-hour Army Field Training Exercise.
“The rewrite was completed using the 14 PTT eBooks, 13 of which are currently the most commonly used references by civilian Physical Therapist Assistant programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education,” Miranda added.
The new, 16-week digital consolidated curriculum debuted Jan. 11, 2023, and is currently undergoing validation until December 2023.
Miranda pointed out several benefits to using eBooks compared to hardcover textbooks, as they are a readily accessible form of media for the new generation of students. They include downloading the eBook app onto students’ laptops or personal devices making the eBooks accessible during study time or in their living spaces; the ability for students to make their own highlights, capture digital notes, and make digital flashcards; accessibility to student practice tests; automatic updates so students get the most up to date eBook editions; and students can use a search engine to easily look up information.
The eBooks were also a huge benefit for the PTT instructors when it came to the 100% curriculum rewrite.
“It was much more efficient for the PTT instructors to transfer the eBook content into our lesson plan templates than to type word for word from a hardcopy textbook,” Miranda said. “It made the curriculum rewrite happen at warp speed vs. a snail’s pace, which allowed the PTT program to finish the 100% rewrite in just eight months instead of what would typically take 1-2 years.”