by: Joshua Harding BSc Hons (MS2)
Taimma Communications, Inc. specializes in the development of custom and off the shelf medical learning programs relevant to health care and life sciences, and with 20 years of experience in medical education they clearly know what they are doing.
Taimma describe themselves as innovative medical education providers, dynamics thinkers, and education aficionados.
Taimma offer an impressive array of services, which seem to be based around two main development tools and developed exclusively for the Apple iPad.
ROECycleTM Studio, a rapid eLearning-authoring tool to allow clients to develop custom eLearning programs with stunning interactive content at an affordable price and aCeibaTM, an eLearning authoring platform-allowing clients to localize and modify their programs content as they wish.
Between these two tools, Taimma offers custom and off-the-shelf eLearning programs, annotated presentations, simulation-based programs and paper-based learning systems.
Since 2012, Taimma has released four iPad apps:
- Understanding the Anatomy of the Nervous System
- Understanding the Anatomy of the Respiratory System
- Introduction to the Cough Reflex
- Understanding the Physiology of the Respiratory System
Theirry Semoff VP of Taimma Communications Inc was also kind enough to take the time to talk to us about the company and the move to the iPad app market, which you can read here.
The rest of this review will give a broad overview of the apps and determine how successful Taimma has been with their transition onto the iPad.
Taimma’s apps differ from other learning resources that have previously come before it in a number of ways. All their apps are fully narrated and animated, they provide you with quizzes and evaluations throughout, and are incredibly easy to navigate. It is, as far as I can see, the next best thing to attending lectures.
The welcome page talks you through the course in a clear and concise manner. From this simple to understand welcome page I gleaned the learning objectives, what I was going to be covering, and how long It was going to take me.
Right off I felt I was informed and ready for the content.
What is also clear is Taimma’s experience within medical education; before you start you’re provided with a description of what will be covered, in order. These sections are then reinforced in the main body of the app and repeated in conclusions as well as tested in multiple quizzes throughout. This approach displays a deeper understanding of how to teach medicine and is a clear attempt to incorporate features in the app that are based on an understanding of how knowledge is organized and stored.
Navigation was also easy and explained by a simple navigation instructions page. The UI is well designed and includes some useful buttons, such as an aspect ratio lock, which overrides the inbuilt lock on the iPad (handy if your side button is currently set up as mute), a help icon where you can get access to support, and navigational tips, as well as a preference button where you can view statistics about the course and adjust the volume and brightness.
The most useful of these features though has to be, the transcript and glossary functions.
Once you get into the learning program, the first thing that will strike you is the quality of the illustrations and animations. They are truly excellent, maintaining medically correct detail in a stylized form. Small amounts of relevant information and introductory pieces are narrated to you while animated illustrations appear seamlessly on screen.
Ultimately, the concept of this app is excellent, but each apps success really depends on its content and associated price tag, which are not as consistent as I would like. I do feel that these apps would be more appropriately aimed at medical schools and universities.
If these apps were integrated into the curriculum then they would be able to deliver high quality supplementary learning material to all their students.This supplementary material may be particularly helpful on distance learning courses, benefiting both student and teacher alike. My major criticism for the app is based upon the fact that these apps are predominantly supplementary.
Currently these apps have limited usability for an individual student once they have been completed once, for example: revisiting the quiz questions must be accomplished through selecting each one individually through the TOC, a fairly laborious task; there is no in-app way of making your own notes, or exporting slides that could be used as “crib” sheets. These are minor failings, but when you consider them in conjunction with the maximum price tag of $29.99 for the app, you have to wonder if Taimma is offering enough in terms of content and versatility for an individual student to choose this product over alternative learning resources.
To put things in perspective, a single chapter ‘the nervous system’ from an inkling textbook like ‘essentials of human anatomy and physiology’ can be purchased for $7.99. Granted these texts are not going to narrate the content to you or display it in such an animated way as Taimma’s apps do, but as we know, Inkling textbooks are not exactly a shabby affair, and its almost a certainty that they will manage to cover the content provided in Taimma’s apps and more for a fraction of the price.
- Range from $19.99 to $29.99
- Excellent animation & medical images
- Clear user interface & easy to navigate
- Quizzes to reinforce your learning
- Glossary that incorporates pronunciation
- Transcript for each section in case you missed something
- Very easy to work through
- No way to make notes
- Unable to export slides and images from the app
- The best eLearning program I have seen on the iPad
- Offers full narration & animated learning
- Evaluations throughout with pop quizzes and final assessments
- Glossary & Narration script features
- Success is highly dependent on the quality and relevance of the content, which varies between the apps
- May be better suited to incorporation in curriculum rather than as stand alone resources for students
Understanding the Anatomy of the Nervous System iTunes
Understanding the Anatomy of the Respiratory System iTunes
Introduction to the Cough Reflex iTunes
Understanding the Physiology of the Respiratory System iTunes