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Mobile Learning Study

The use of mobile devices and the ever increasing number of “apps” to support user interface has attracted attention from many commercial and educational institutions.  As de Souza scans the horizon for innovative oncology nursing education, the potential benefits of the mobile devices to improve accessibility to nursing education is apparent.  The capacity of mobile devices to potentially handle various oncology content remains to be tested. It is also unknown about oncology nurses’ acceptance level, their ability to use it as a learning tool, and their academic performance when using this technology as compared to computer based eLearning.

A research study was carried out in January 2011 to explore the usefulness of mobile devices in oncology nursing education and gather feedback from oncology nurses from different age groups and geographic locations on the following areas:

  1. To examine the use of a particular mobile platform, such as the iPod Touch©, as a medium for de Souza Institute eLearning courses and test its ability to deliver oncology curriculum as compared to the computer based eLearning.
  2. To test efficacy of mLearning by gathering feedback from nurses after using the device to complete learning modules.
  3. To compare mLearning with computer based eLearning to explore whether there are any differences in knowledge improvement between using mLearning versus computer based eLearning.

A de Souza course – eHealth Nursing and Oncology – was offered in January 2011.  Housed in the de Souza eLearning centre, it consists of 4 modules covering content in the following areas: history of health informatics in cancer care, impact of technology in oncology nursing practice and future direction using case-based interactive format.

Thirty study participants took the first two modules using the de Souza eLearning Centre and then switch to iPod Touch© to complete the third and fourth modules via mLearning.   A purposeful sampling method was used to ensure participants come from across the trajectory of cancer care, (i.e. regional cancer centres, acute care hospitals, and community agencies), in different geographic locations and from various age groups within the workforce.

These participants were compared with de Souza “regular” learners – nurses who took the entire course via online access.  The following contrasts were explored:

  • Group equivalence tested via comparison of change in confidence in Module 1 and 2, when both group used eLearning
  • Comparison of the effectiveness of mLearning vs. eLearning in module 3 and 4

The outcome variables include: quantitative measures of academic performance (change in knowledge), total time spent on learning, and participant satisfaction.  Qualitative data includes analysis of text recorded by nurses on their experiences with mLearning and analyzed using software Nvivo 8 (QSR).  Results showed that mLearning was as effective as eLearning in delivering content – both groups improved the same way while using different method. eLearning was especially valued for its accessibility & convenience. We will continue to develop and explore potential/impact of Wi-Fi/Internet access in content. The study was presented at the 4th International Conference of the Canadian Network on Innovation in Education in May 2011.