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Health Info Libr J. 2005 Dec;22 Suppl 2:51-65.

Using mobile technologies to give health students access to learning resources in the UK community setting.

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1
Library, Loughborough University, UK. graham.walton@lboro.ac.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

This article describes a project which explored the potential for mobile technologies to give health students in the community access to learning resources. The purpose included the need to identify possible barriers students could face in using mobile technologies. Another focus was to assess the students perceptions of the importance of being able to access learning resources in the community.

METHODS:

This 1-year project used two main approaches for data collection. A review of the literature on mobile technologies in the health context was conducted. This was used in a systematic way to identify key issues and trends. The literature review was used to inform the design and production of a questionnaire. This was distributed to and completed by a group of community health students at Northumbria University, UK. The questionnaire was piloted and there was a 100% completion rate with 49 returned forms.

RESULTS:

The literature review indicated that most mobile technology applications were occurring in the US. At the time of the review the most prevalent mobile technologies were PDAs, laptops, WAP phones and portable radios with use being concentrated around doctors in the acute sector. A range of advantages and disadvantages to the technology were discovered. Mobile technologies were mainly being used for clinical rather than learning applications. The students showed a low level of awareness of the technology but placed great importance to accessing learning resources from the community.

CONCLUSIONS:

Significant development and changes are taking place in mobile technologies. Since the data collection for this work was completed in 2004 podcasting and videocasting have become significant in mobile learning for health professionals. Librarians will need to address the relevance and implications of m-learning for their practice. Care and consideration needs to be given on the time and resources librarians allocate for the necessary development work around mobile technologies. Collaboration and partnership working will be most effective approach for librarians wishing to integrate their services with m-learning technologies.

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