3 Biggest Problems with Digital Health Science Curriculum Blog Feature
Bri Stauffer

By: Bri Stauffer on February 6th, 2020

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3 Biggest Problems with Digital Health Science Curriculum

Digital Curriculum | Health Science

If you’re considering a digital curriculum for your health science classroom, you’re likely wondering about some of the problems associated with it.

As a digital health science curriculum developer, we work with thousands of teachers like you every year.

Over the years, the three most common problems health science teachers have told us about using digital curriculum are:

  1. The potential for students to cheat
  2. Technology requirements
  3. Concerns about screen time

It’s natural (and expected) to be concerned with one or more of these problems with digital curriculum.

After all, it shows that you want to find the right curriculum for your health science program!

In this post, we’ll go into the details of the problems, the causes of each one, and how you can avoid them.

We’ll also give you some ideas on how to know whether digital curriculum is the right fit for you and your students.

Problem 1: Students May Cheat When Using Digital Curriculum

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One of the most common frustrations health science teachers face with digital curriculum is the fact that students cheat on classwork, homework, and assessments.

Cheating is a problem in many health science classrooms, but the reasons students cheat often vary depending on your students’ experience and motivation.

In some cases a student may cheat because they are embarrassed to ask you for additional help when learning tough topics like medical terminology.

Other times, a student may feel pressured to get good grades and feel cheating is the only way to accomplish that goal.

No matter the reason, if a student is planning to cheat, they will likely do it regardless of what materials you use.

However, many teachers find that digital study tools like Quizlet have made it easier than ever for students to cheat -- especially when coupled with a digital curriculum.

What’s the Solution to Students Cheating with Digital Curriculum?

While we can’t change the fact that some students choose to cheat, we’ve put together a list of 11 ways to prevent cheating in your classroom:

  1. Talk about honesty and integrity
  2. Teach digital responsibility
  3. Create an anti-cheating pledge
  4. Make different versions of your assessments
  5. Switch up seating on test day
  6. Use multiple assessment styles
  7. Manage access to personal devices
  8. Check the settings on digital study tools
  9. Change the structure of your tests
  10. Create an atmosphere of asking questions
  11. Change how you define success in your classroom

Depending on the reasons your students are tempted to cheat in your class, one (or more) of these strategies could make a huge difference!

But are you wondering how AES strives to decrease cheating among health science students who use our digital curriculum?

First, we built our system to help prevent students with wandering eyes from finding answers by looking at others’ screens.

To accomplish this, every assessment has randomized questions and answers to ensure students that sit next to each other don’t have the exact same test.

In addition, after a student hands in their work, students don’t have the ability to see the correct answers to the questions on their assessment.

Second, we developed a module on Digital Responsibility to help you reinforce academic honesty when using digital curriculum.

This module is a great way to kickoff your semester before getting started with digital curriculum. It includes an online learning agreement that every student in your class should sign on day one.

Finally, we have bi-weekly audits connected to the Quizlet system to help remove any content that matches our questions.

We also encourage teachers who use Quizlet to change the privacy settings to their study materials to help decrease the likelihood of students using it to cheat during assessments.

Overall, teachers who understand why their students cheat and incorporate some of the suggested strategies find they are able to overcome their concerns about cheating with digital curriculum!

Problem 2: Your Students Must Have Access to Technology

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Many health science teachers are concerned that they don’t have the right technology to make digital curriculum work in their classes.

In fact, one of the most common questions teachers ask about using digital curriculum is:

“My classroom doesn’t have enough computers for every student. Can we still use a digital health science curriculum?”

If your students don’t have access to computers or digital devices on a regular basis, it’s likely digital curriculum isn’t the best fit for you.

After all, a digital curriculum is built upon the system that includes interactive online lessons and assessments.

So if your students aren’t able to access those pieces, you’ll struggle to get the most value of the resource.

However, using a digital curriculum doesn’t always require the amount of technology most teachers assume!

How Can You Use Digital Curriculum Without One-to-One Technology?

Though an ideal situation would involve every student in your class having access to a computer or tablet, we know that isn’t always feasible.

Luckily, many health science teachers have found ways to use digital curriculum even without one-to-one access for their students.

The teachers we work with have adapted digital curriculum to fit their technology situations in three different ways.

Scenario 1: Limited Computers in Your Classroom

Many CTE health science classrooms have computers, but typically not enough for every student to use them at the same time.

Teachers with limited computer access often break their class into two groups of students.

While one group works through the digital curriculum, the other group can engage in hands-on skills practice, discussions, or other activities.

“In the setting that I work, there is a lot of potential down time during the times where students are performing hands on skills practice and/or testing. HealthCenter21 allows me the flexibility to conduct these check offs while not worrying that the other students in the class are not being productive.”

Andy Garrett
Thompson High School, AL

Scenario 2: Daily Access to a Computer Lab or Laptop Cart

In some cases, teachers are able to request daily access to a computer lab or a laptop cart in order to guarantee your students will be able to use digital curriculum as needed.

While most health science classes won’t need to use computers every day, simply having this option available can take a lot of stress and worry off of your plate.

After all, you don’t have to worry about competing with other teachers to get access when you always have time blocked out!

Scenario 3: Weekly Access to a Computer Lab or Laptop Cart

You may be surprised to learn that some health science teachers only have access to computers once per week.

Even with such limited access, these teachers and students have success with using digital curriculum.

The key to being successful in this scenario is to carefully plan how you’ll maximize that day of digital learning.

If you feel your students need to work in the system more than one day a week, you could also implement a flipped learning strategy and require students to complete some of the work outside of class!

“We have one computer cart and if we have time I tell the students they can go over to grab a computer. Otherwise, get out your phone or do it at home. They always have alternate ways to do the work, which I love.

Even if a student doesn’t have access to a computer at home, they can complete the work. They can do it on their smartphones, at the Media Center that we have, at the public library… They can do it anywhere.”

Kozy Hubbard
Bartow High School, FL

Overall, digital curriculum is such a flexible resource that in most cases you can make it work -- no matter the level of technology access your students have during class time.

Problem 3: Screen Time Takes Away from Hands-On Learning

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In health science courses, learning hands-on skills is one of the most important parts of your students’ education.

No matter how well your students understand the concepts and terminology, if they don’t have the skills down it will be tough to have a successful healthcare career!

Additionally, health science teachers often find teaching those skills the most rewarding and exciting part of being a teacher. You get to use your industry knowledge and experience in a new way to help your students grow and learn!

Because of this, many health science teachers are hesitant to put their students on computers to learn.

This is an understandable concern for any teacher, especially if your students will take certification exams at the end of your program.

We’re the first to admit that if you use digital curriculum from start to finish every class period your students will have too much screen time (and spend less time getting hands-on experience).

However, we would never recommend using digital curriculum as the be-all, end-all in your classes!

How Can You Avoid Too Much Screen Time in the Classroom?

While there are many ways to cut down on screen time in your classroom, the best way to avoid too much is by implementing blended learning.

Blended learning involves using multiple types of instructional materials and teaching styles in order to best help students learn and retain information.

The five best blended learning strategies to avoid too much screen time are:

  1. Embrace the four phases of education
  2. Use presentations to break up screen time
  3. Go through digital lessons as a class
  4. Flip your classroom
  5. Supplement digital curriculum with other instructional materials

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Whether you choose one of those strategies or mix it up with multiple options, using blended learning can help you avoid having students spend too much time on the computer.

Is Digital Curriculum Right for Your Health Science Program?

Now that you know the biggest problems health science teachers face with digital curriculum (along with some ways to overcome them), there’s one last item to address.

Should you use digital curriculum in your health science classroom?

If you’re still wary about using a digital resource after reading this post, no problem!

Digital curriculum isn’t right for everyone. Some teachers do just fine using their own homemade curriculum or health science textbooks.

But if you’re interested in learning more about digital health science curriculum, consider checking out HealthCenter21.

HealthCenter21 contains more than 650 curriculum hours of content to introduce healthcare concepts, teach skills, and prepare students for certifications.

But is HealthCenter21 right for you and your students? The best way to find out is to try it for yourself!

Click below to sign up for your free 30-day trial:

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About Bri Stauffer

Bri collaborates with others at AES to create content that answers your questions about teaching classes, preparing students for certifications, and making the most of the AES digital curriculum.

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