Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Perceived Benefits of Mobile Learning Devices for Doctoral Students in a School of Allied Health Professions

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Perceived Benefits of Mobile Learning Devices for Doctoral Students in a School of Allied Health Professions

Article excerpt

Graduate students increasingly use personal electronic devices for learning but little is known about how they evaluate their benefits as mobile learning devices (MLDs). This study surveyed students in a hybrid distance education doctoral (PhD) program about their perceptions of the benefits of MLDs. Overall, the study found a range of opinions about the value of MLDs with about one-half of respondents finding benefits. Respondents emphasized that the MLDs improved motivation and productivity and that they were helpful in reviewing course-casts of on-campus sessions. Continued research is needed on doctoral education in general and the increasing use of innovations such as MLDs. J Allied Health 2015;44(4):e29-e35.

ALLIED HEALTH GRADUATEstudents may find significant benefits from using personal electronic devices as mobile learning devices (MLDs) to enhance hybrid education. These include e-book readers, portable media players (such as iPods), iPads, tablets, and smartphones.1,2 For the "Net Generation" (born 1974-1983) instant messaging, text messages and Internet usage are essential elements of daily activities including learning,3 and mobile technology is now vital to students' living and learning.

Educational institutions have experimented with MLDs4,5 and affiliated strategies such as podcasts, recorded lectures and apps.6 Podcasting and coursecasting, the recording of lectures shared via learning management system (LMS), can enhance learning and augment face-to-face sessions.7,8 Some universities, notably Duke, Seton Hall, and Texas Abilene, have implemented mass distribution of iPads to students.9,10

A related trend is the growth in distance education offerings. By the 2006-2007 academic year, 66 percent of 2- and 4-year Title IV degree granting post-secondary institutions offered distance education courses.11

Greater use of Web-based learning in higher education has propelled the need for evaluation. Research is essential for the growth of the field and enhancement of learning.12 Mobile learning is considered a way to enhance the distance education experience13 but MLD use and efficacy have not been well evaluated.14

Researchers in varied disciplines and settings have begun to study pedagogical use of MLDs.15-17 Hahn found that connectivity using iPads helped undergraduates to engage course materials while enhancing the in-class experience.18 Alyahya & Gail found iPads aided graduate students with access to written materials, Internet resources, note-taking, organizing information and assignments.19 Tempelhof found positive results of iPod use with medical students20; Sclafani found 40% of academic physician trainees used a tablet but felt more institutional support was needed.21 Other research shows potential for enhanced effectiveness in anatomy22,23 anesthesiology,24,25 immunology,26 biology,27 and clinical learning28 courses. For doctoral students, another factor is their future role as faculty. Growth in post-secondary distance education suggests that future faculty will require technical literacy to use MLDs in their own teaching.29

Purpose: The purpose of this research is to explore whether provision of MLDs to students in an interdisciplinary, hybrid doctoral (PhD) program in health related sciences assisted students in the use of course materials and activities.

METHODS

Setting

The Doctoral Program in Health Related Sciences (DPHRS) in the School of Allied Health Professions of Virginia Commonwealth University educates professionals in the departments of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Gerontology, Health Administration, Nurse Anesthesia, Occupational Therapy, Patient Counseling, Physical Therapy, Radiation Sciences, and Rehabilitation Counseling. This research degree requires two years of didactic coursework, comprehensive exams, and a dissertation. Its hybrid design entails on-campus sessions at the start and end of each semester; the remainder of a semester's coursework is done asynchronously online. …

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