Developing Interactive Mobile Learning Experiences for Healthcare Professionals: Content and Community of Practice Recommendations

Developing Interactive Mobile Learning Experiences for Healthcare Professionals: Content and Community of Practice Recommendations

Hugh Kellam
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJMHCI.2020040103
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The purpose of this article was to examine best practices for designing inquiry-based contextual instructional content and determining the pedagogical uses and impacts of communities of practice for supporting mobile learning activities. In this convergent parallel mixed methods case study, mobile learning experiences were accessed by physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals at medical organizations across Ontario. Impact was measured by the learning outcomes and experiences of study participants. Findings highlighted the effectiveness of context-specific, situated learning content for application of learned skills, integration of new knowledge, and identification of best practices. Synchronous discussion forums were examined for collaboration and communication during mobile learning, and asynchronous forums were ideal for post-learning collaboration, problem-solving and resource sharing.
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Mobile learning has the potential to enhance education and training for medical professionals, including clinical skills as well as knowledge acquisition (Burdette, Herchline & Oehler, 2008). Recent studies have reported positive attitudes of health professionals and medical students towards mobile learning, including calls for greater use (Boruff & Storie, 2014). This is also true for nursing education, where studies have reported success using mobile learning for the development of skills in clinical environments (Lai & Wu, 2016), as well as positive student attitudes when mobile learning tools were used for continuing professional development (Chang, Lai & Hwang, 2018). Mobile learning has been found to have positive effects on all three domains of learning: cognitive, affective and psychomotor (Koohestani, Soltani-Arabshahi, Fata & Ahmadi, 2018).

Despite the pedagogical potential of mobile learning in the education and workplace training of healthcare professionals, numerous studies point to continuing challenges with the design and implementation of effective learning activities. A review of the literature found that even though pedagogical strategies such as inquiry-based and contextual learning have been extremely effective in mobile learning applications, they were seldom adopted in mobile healthcare education (Chang, Lai & Hwang, 2018). Tudor Car et al. (2018) identify that research is required on numerous topics including effective evaluation, technology used (computer-based, mobile, virtual reality) and customization of mobile learning based on professional field (nurses, medical students, practicing physicians). Two areas of particular need are the utilization of mobile learning devices for the establishment of communities of practice (Cochrane & Narayan, 2016), and how to design mobile learning activities that achieve desired learning outcomes in real-life contexts (Dunleavy, Nikolaou, Nifakos, Atun, Law & Tudor Car, 2019).

The focus of this article is to examine these two specialized research gaps in the mobile learning literature: designing inquiry-based contextual mobile content for healthcare professionals and examining the pedagogical uses and impacts of mobile learning communities of practice.

For the purpose of this study, mobile learning is referred to as a mobile learning experience, occurring within the framework of a larger online course. A “mobile learning experience” refers to a learning activity that the participants perform on their mobile device (laptop, tablet or phone), in a specific physical context or location. The mobile learning experiences were deployed in a pilot study of the Ontario Telemedicine Network’s online videoconference equipment training course which was accessed by physicians, nurses and healthcare professionals at medical organizations across Ontario.

The design and evaluation of the mobile learning experiences were performed using identified best practices from the mobile learning literature. The study employed a convergent parallel mixed methods design, where qualitative and quantitative data were collected from study participants before, during and after their use of the mobile learning experience. This methodology was utilized because it allows for a greater breadth and depth of understanding of the participants’ experiences and leads to greater corroboration and validity of a study’s findings (Schoonenboom & Johnson, 2017).

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