New thinking on mobile learning

In writing a paper on Mobile Learning as a Teaching Strategy for Healthcare Education, it really expanded my idea of what mobile learning is all about. I’ve always taken a technology focus to the definition – defining mobile learning as learning that is enhanced by the use of a mobile device – specifically devices that you would normally take with you everywhere, such as your mobile phone. Since technology changes quickly, I’ve largely focused on the potential of the newer touch-based SmartPhones.

I always thought of mobile devices as devices for consuming content. With that mind-set, I thought that mobile learning was all about creating mobile friendly learning content. My focus was largely on how to create new stuff, rather than how to re-use existing stuff. With the creating new stuff focus, I did not see how teachers unfamiliar with technology could easily use mobile learning.

Writing the paper has changed how I think. For some reason, it never occurred to me that the devices could be used to create content – and not text content, but photo and video content. I now see how the mobile devices can be used to enhance classroom projects and reflective practice.

As part of the paper, I defined three contexts for mobile learning in healthcare education: in the classroom, in a clinical setting, and anytime/anywhere – the latter referring to using mobile devices for learning whenever the learner has a free moment, such as when commuting. With this in mind, I came up with three examples of mobile learning in a healthcare education setting. Before writing the paper, I would not have thought about the first two example in the context of mobile learning. It feels great to have learned something today :).

Below are the examples from my paper. All examples set in the context of an introductory course on “Nursing in Society”, which is a general first year university course (or senior high school elective) intended to provide students with an appreciation of nursing as a practicing profession.

In a Classroom
The instructor uses a quick survey to determine what devices students have access to and their level of comfort with technology. Students are then assigned to groups such that each group has at least one student with access to a Mobile phone with a digital camera and video capture capabilities and at least one person is each group is familiar with using technology to create presentations.

The group project is to find two locations in the community where nurses work. After seeking appropriate permission, for each of the locations, students are to photograph the setting and ask nurses in each of these locations for a short interview (2-3 minutes), which they are to video record. Finally, the group creates a presentation for their fellow students including the photos and videos.

In a Clinical Setting
Immediately after visiting each location (in the group project above), each student individually makes an audio recording of summarizing their experience – emphasizing how they interpreted what they saw and including any questions about the experience.

Once all the visits are complete, the group listens to each of the reflections and choses the two that are: interesting, informative, or challenging. These reflections are shared with the class after the classroom presentation. Students then form mixed groups (not the presentation groups) to discuss the presentation and reflection.

Anytime-Anywhere Learning
Before the lecture, students are to review the video podcast by McGill University entitled “Health” episode 27 “Leading the fight against AIDS”, available in iTunes U and at

After watching the video, students are to reflect upon the role of healthcare professionals as healthcare advocates in society. Students are to come to class with questions and comments for discussion.

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