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

It’s a colourful life

Colour.  Something the majority of us take for granted, but do you remember the days when there were only 256 colours?  Like me, you’ve probably not noticed that we’ve moved on from this limited palette. I was talking about web design today and in particular web safe colours and whether or not these were still relevant today. summarises this issue far better than I can here: The site also gives you a bit of background as to why web safe colours were first introduced.  We’re now enjoying far more colourful days in front of our screens, 16 million colours to be precise.  16384 of which most modern monitors are capable of displaying according to the w3c:

You might be wondering why I’m talking so much about colour and what relevance it has on a blog about elearning.  There are a few reasons why and the relevance it has on this blog:

  1. My job.  I’m a Learning Technologist, I enjoy the technical side of things and regularly use colour tools to find hex codes in order to produce web graphics.
  2. Accessibility.  Colour, and more specifically colour contrast, can play a huge part in making text accessible to people with visual impairments.
  3. Openness.  The articles I’ve looked at to gather more information about this topic all speak for the Western world.  Not everyone in the world will have access to a modern monitor and being too colourful might reduce the openness of materials released.
  4. Technology.  Technology is changing and evolving.  Designing in 256 colours might, at one stage, have been an advantage for mobile technology with its limited colour screens. But at the rate this is evolving, mobiles will also become increasing colourful.

Along with the resources mentioned previously you might also find this resource useful:

Use colour wisely, it’s easy to get carried away with an entire rainbow at the end of your mouse but keeping it simple will help focus a user’s attention and not overwhelm or distract from what you really want them to focus on, whether it’s a link, email address or text.

Emma Davies
Learning Technologist

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