Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Perceptions and Use of iPad Technology by Pharmacy Practice Faculty Members

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Perceptions and Use of iPad Technology by Pharmacy Practice Faculty Members

Article excerpt


The 6-year doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program at the School of Pharmacy at Northeastern University consists of campus-based and off-campus instruction. The school's department of pharmacy practice has 34 faculty members who perform research and scholarship, provide clinical and professional service, and deliver most of the PharmD curriculum to over 800 students. The department consists of 5 social and administrative sciences faculty members and 29 pharmacy practice faculty members who are either fully funded by the university or co-funded with practice partners. These faculty members are responsible for campus-based instruction as well as teaching many of the advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPEs) in healthcare settings off campus. Many faculty members spend substantial amounts of time off campus (3 to 4 days a week) at hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and other healthcare facilities teaching APPEs, and providing patient care and other services throughout the calendar year. Faculty members in the department have been challenged to remain engaged in teaching, research, and service activities on campus while spending much of their time teaching and providing services off campus.

Tablet technology is an attractive mobile solution for the specific challenges of clinical faculty members because of portability and applications that can be used to improve connectivity, workflow, and provide readily accessible informational resources. While the popular media and academic blogs tout the iPad as an ultimate teaching and learning tool, few studies have assessed the impact of this technology on faculty productivity in the academic setting. (1-3) The objectives of this study were to explore the potential of tablet technology to address the specific workload challenges of pharmacy practice faculty at our institution and to evaluate tablet usage after a department-wide iPad initiative.


Given the challenges of performing teaching, scholarship, and service activities at multiple locations, the pharmacy department leaders began exploring and holding conversations with faculty members in fall 2011 about how tablet technology could be used to address these challenges. Based on the information that was gathered, an anonymous, voluntary, Web-based survey was conducted in November 2011 to collect data about pharmacy faculty attitudes towards using iPads for job-related activities and possible use scenarios if such technology became available to them. At the time of the needs assessment survey, several faculty members already owned iPads. A section of the survey asked these users questions about their iPad usage. The survey was developed by the authors and reviewed by 2 faculty colleagues and 2 technology staff members from Northeastern University's Education Technology Center to establish face and content validity.

By January 2012, the needs assessment survey results were evaluated and used to justify the purchase of iPads from the department's operating budget for all departmental faculty members, regardless of whether they had an external practice site. Department leaders worked with academic technology staff members in the Education Technology Center to facilitate iPad purchase and implementation. Considerations during this phase were the type of device to obtain, including memory and other specifications, security of the devices, and initial training needs. In March 2012 (shortly after the iPad 3 was released) the department purchased 34 iPad 3(16 GB, WiFi and 3G/4G capable), 34 Apple VGA adapters (to allow integration with existing classroom presentation technologies), and 34 $25 iTunes gift cards (to allow faculty members to purchase applications to be used for teaching and other productivity needs) for $23,222. The iPads arrived and were distributed to faculty members in April 2012, at which time they each received a document describing resources to allow them to best use their tablet. …

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