Mobile OERs for Interprofessional Education

As part of the TIGER research, I observed a practical training session at Loughborough Hospital last Monday and Tuesday (8-9 Nov 2010). 15 students studying different subjects: Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Social Work, most of them in their final year, took part in the training about Interprofessional Working (IPW). The students were put into four groups, 3-4 students in each group, to work together throughout the 4-day event.

The training featured different practical activities, including a group-based case study in which students learn about discharge policy, process and care package for an elderly patient, a group presentation based on their case study, presentations and discussions led by practitioners and experts in different fields, and an simulation regarding elderly patients.

I had the opportunity to talk to several students there and learned about some issues related to accessing learning resources in the workplace:

  • Their access is restricted to limited medical websites and databases due to the hospital’s firewall.
  • Small hospitals may not have facilities such as a library for students and staff to access the internet and resources.
  • Students on work placement are very busy. They generally think that they have no time to access any kind of materials or resources.
  • No student brought a laptop with them to the training. Some have iPhones or smartphones which they use to access the internet.

Accessibility is absolutely essential in the TIGER project. I could see the potential of making OERs in mobile format to increase students’ accessibility to learning materials and resources while on work placement. However, there is an issue with using mobile phones in hospitals as the NHS does not encourage staff to use mobile devices to access the internet at work. There is a cultural barrier which needs addressing.

There is already a movement of increasing use of mobile devices in medical contexts. Medical students at Leeds University are given iPhones as part of their study. In their final two years, medical students spend much of their time in hospitals, GP surgeries and clinics. iPhones give them the opportunity to stay in contact with the tutors, course materials and textbooks. Another example is the Sarasota, Florida Memorial Healthcare System which gives nurses iTouch and iPhones to communicate and stay connected.

Ming Nie              17 Nov 2010

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