The Daily Dose • Wednesday, May 2

Mobile Technology in Medical Education

By Dr. Michael D. McDonald, from the IARS 2018 Annual Meeting*

Dr. Pedro K. Tanaka, Dr. Matthew K. Whalin, and Dr. Vikas N. O’Reilly-Shah took turns during this panel to discuss the use of mobile technology in medical education. They discussed what mobile technology opportunities exist, why to use them, what challenges there are with their use, and how to implement them at your institution.

Dr. Tanaka kicked things off with a discussion of his implementation mobile access to classroom-based lectures within the Stanford Anesthesia residency. Powerpoint is fairly ubiquitous as the primary instructional method at most institutions. As mobile technology becomes increasingly prevalent, successful implementation may elevate teaching and learning practices. By allowing mobile access to lecture materials, students can create a personalized pace to move through each lecture, students have increased ease for flashcard generation for repetition, and instructors can use question extraction for interactive learning. A major hurdle to overcome has been faculty buy-in. To overcome this challenge at Stanford, Dr. Tanka created their program that required no change in how faculty members prepare their presentations, streamlining ease of use for instructors.

Next, Dr. Whalin took over to discuss the use of audience response systems (ARS) to enhance learner engagement. An ARS implements either multiple choice or free text questions throughout more traditional classroom learning. Increasing access to mobile technology has disrupted the ease of use for ARS, as clickers are out and there is no longer a hardware cost associated. Mobile technology also allows for easy scalability and videoconference compatibility.

Dr. Whalin discussed both the strengths of ARS as well as some of its weaknesses. ARS should be implemented as its interactivity promotes learner engagement. ARS also allows for anonymity, allowing for honest response without fear of judgment and decreases anxiety of being put on the spot. Audience response receives answers from the whole group, and not just gunners, allowing for identification of audience knowledge gaps in real-time. Despite these strengths, there are challenges that must be addressed with ARS. Questions take time, thus less content can be covered in a given lecture, and it adds another AV variable that can (inevitably) malfunction. Learners may become distracted and use their phones for other things, and if overused, it can be viewed as a gimmick resulting in decreased participation. Contingent teaching requires more skill, and may lead to skepticism by instructors.

To effectively implement ARS into medical curricula, it should be utilized to either recapture audience periodically (every 15-20 minutes) or be used to support specific learning objective. By targeting specific objectives and asking difficult questions to stimulate critical thinking, overuse can be avoided to optimize learner buy-in.

Dr. O’Reilly-Shah wrapped up the panel by focusing on software analytics to review success of mobile learning. Dr. O’Reilly-Shah recently helped to develop and implement a custom mobile app into the Emory Anesthesia residency curriculum to combine clinical decision support, practice questions, and didactic learning. While many learners found benefit in the app initially, there was a sharp drop off in the use of the application over the course of the first month, and most students would prefer to use their own devices compared to the tablet they were provided. While there is a wealth of technology for education, and mobile technology is beginning to play an increasing role in education, mobile applications cannot and should not completely replace the need for traditional study element, but instead supplement core curricular elements.

*Coverage from the Panel session, Leveraging Mobile Apps for Medical Education