Cambridge University Distributed Opportunity Systems
CUDOS is intended to bridge the gap for medical students between school and university
so that they can begin their preclinical scientific studies adequately prepared in
all necessary areas despite variation in the subjects studied at school, and how well
they have been taught.
With the recent changes in the pattern of sixth-form studies, and the increasing difficulties
that many schools face in addressing the needs of their very best pupils, we must
find ways of ensuring that the end of sixth-form studies fits seamlessly onto the beginning of
medical studies. At present,
the choice is between either assuming no A-level knowledge at all (boring those students who have
already done it), or taking this knowledge for granted (so that many struggle from
What CUDOS will do is provide computer-based material of a special and unusual kind. It will be
aimed at high-achieving students, used to working on their own, who enjoy exploring challenging material
in depth. It will be in the form of very small computer-based 'exhibits', each covering a single
topic. Typical exhibits might for instance deal with capacitance or fluid flow, Mendelian genetics or
protein structure. Students will choose what they need as stepping-stones, and explore them in
their own time and at their own pace.
As in a well-designed modern museum, some of these exhibits will be
demonstrations, some will be self-tests, most will be fully interactive simulations of dynamic
processes in which students can in effect do experiments on virtual systems, so that the world
in which they operate is one they have created themselves.
This sense of the user owning the software is, we believe, the key to successful computer-aided learning.
In a sense, one can think of it as learning primarily by play, the process by which Nature intends
the young to learn. Much teaching software currently available is undynamic and insufficiently
interactive, lacking in a sense of depth and richness, so that users tire of it quickly.
Although this project happens to be based in Cambridge, it is certainly not intended just
for those applying to Cambridge. All the material will be freely available for individuals to download
and work on at home, as well as for schools or for other universities, as an additional resource
particularly for those highly intelligent and inquisitive students whose needs cannot
always be met without an investment of time and resources that not all schools are in a position to provide.
Parts of this are already running, and we hope they provide useful resources. Material will be added as it is developed.
We welcome suggestions and feedback from schools, universities and individual students, and hope soon
to have an automated system of registering your interest and your views.
In addition the site hosts other material, some of more general interest, some more specialised: the links are set out below.
CUDOS has been made possible thanks to a
National Teaching Fellowship awarded to Prof. Roger Carpenter,
who is a neurophysiologist working in the Physiological Laboratory, University of Cambridge.
He has been ably assisted by current medical students with special expertise in computing and other areas:
Mike Adams, Tom Bewick, Sanjay Manohar, Robin Marlow, Dunecan Massey, Hemal Mehta, Alice Miller,
Ben Reddi, Dora Wood and John Wrightson.
Prof. R. H. S. Carpenter, Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge, CB1 2TA
Tel +44 1223 332462