A needs assessment for mobile technology use in medical education

Shahrzad Vafa1 and Diane E. Chico2

1Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA

2College of Medicine, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, USA

Submitted: 17/07/2013; Accepted: 12/10/2013; Published: 25/11/2013

Int J Med Educ. 2013; 4:230-235; doi: 10.5116/ijme.5259.4a88

© 2013 Shahrzad Vafa & Diane E. Chico. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: This study investigated how medical students perceived mobile technology as a component of their learning experience and identified barriers to the use of mobile technology in education.

Methods: An anonymous survey developed by EDUCAUSE was distributed to 1000 first year medical students (M1s) at two separate medical schools during three consecutive academic years, 2010 to 2013. The 25-item questionnaire assessed student use of mobile devices, student interest in mobile technologies as they apply to education, and technology issues related to implementing mobile application in education.

Results: The majority of participating M1s (n=520) indicated that they own a smartphone or a similar mobile device. More than half of M1s reported using their devices for education, primarily to download educational course materials, listen to podcasts/lectures, and access medical resource applications. Two student-identified technology issues concerning the use of mobile technology in education were ensuring better implementation of technology and faster data transmission (60%). Review of qualitative data from written responses to open-ended questions highlighted three common themes: (1) the current use of mobile technology in the clinics and other institutions, (2) common technology ownership and comfort of use, and (3) efficiency and accessibility to learning materials.

Conclusions: While the needs assessment revealed student acceptance of mobile technology in education, student responses highlighted the need for a supportive academic and technological infrastructure.