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S2 Ep7: The Anatomy of Digital Resources with Dr. Steve Sullivan

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

Dr. Steve Sullivan, a professor of anatomy and physiology at Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania and an author for McGraw-Hill Education, spends some time with Tim and Karen talking about his journey creating digital tools and resources for teaching and learning anatomy and physiology.

Steve discusses his own personal experience teaching online, something he has been doing for years, and how the transition to distance learning was actually pretty easy for him and his students because of the resources he already used as part of his curriculum. This includes videos, tutorials, lab simulations he has made himself and in partnership with McGraw-Hill.

Questions explored in this episode:

  • What are the advantages to digital content that is ‘evergreen’ and non-textbook specific? Who pays for this?

  • How is the digital textbook model different from the traditional textbook model?

  • Does science change over time?

  • Do students want a paper version over a digital version of a textbook?

  • Why is digital sometimes better - what does the data show? How much does it cost?

  • Do anatomy labs use digital cadavers?

  • What are the inequities inherent in the system?

  • Why is paid-for content more reliable and vetted compared to ‘free’ OER? (Content expertise matters!!)

  • Will there still be lectures on college campuses?

  • Do we still need teachers? (YES, obviously!)

  • What’s better - online, hybrid, or face-to-face?

Dr. Sullivan talks about the challenges of shifting from a lecture/face-to-face to a Zoom environment, and how discussions, which are a vital part of the course learning, are made more difficult by it. He discusses the reasons both for and against forcing students to turn their cameras on in a distance learning environment - bringing up concerns such as homelessness, food insecurity, and other considerations we often don’t factor into remote learning.

Given the demographics of his students, Covid itself has impacted Steve’s students, many of whom are essential workers, in a variety of ways. Steve discusses several of these impacts, on the students, on their families, and on their course work. He sheds a light into those unseen struggles that community college students experience and how he has altered his own practices to help support them during these difficult times.

Dr. Sullivan also discusses some advantages to the technology aspect of distance learning - the ability to record sessions and have digital resources that students can access at any time (whether they miss a class or just need to refresh/review). He shares how he’s been using digital tools for years, even at a time when digital learning was ‘vilified’ (think 2008), and now it’s become highly valued and required of educators during the pandemic. As a result, he has a huge bank of resources, which he willingly shares with colleagues around the country (HAPS).

In the episode, he takes us through the creation of the McGraw-Hill Digital Suite of Resources for Anatomy and Physiology. It started in 2008 when he was creating his own digital resources using a textbook from McGraw-Hill, which led to his consulting work in 2009 and eventual authorship.

Dr. Sullivan's consulting has evolved into what is now the Anatomy and Physiology Lab Suite, that is a non-textbook-specific digital resource. It has tutorials, digital text, adaptive learning tools, lab simulations and makes a formerly expensive resource(the traditional A&P textbooks) more accessible to students. While the A&P Lab Suite is still not complete, to support A&P teachers during COVID McGraw-Hill Edu. provided these resources free.

Links to resources mentioned in the episode:

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