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Journal of Biomedical Education
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 412786, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/412786
Research Article

Mobile Learning in a Rural Medical School: Feasibility and Educational Benefits in Campus and Clinical Settings

1School of Rural Health, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences, Monash University, Northways Road, Churchill, VIC 3842, Australia
2HealthPEER, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences, Monash University, Wellington Road, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia
3Information Technology, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences, Monash University, Wellington Road, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia

Received 30 December 2013; Accepted 11 June 2014; Published 29 June 2014

Academic Editor: Chandrashekhar T. Sreeramareddy

Copyright © 2014 Debra Nestel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Students in a new medical school were provided with laptops. This study explored the feasibility and educational benefits of mobile learning for two cohorts of students learning in two settings—university campus (first-year students) and rural clinical placements (second-year students). Evaluation involved questionnaires, focus groups (faculty and students), and document analysis. Descriptive statistics were computed. Focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed thematically. Response rates for questionnaires exceeded 84%. Compared with second-year students, significantly more first-year students (60%) took their laptops to campus daily ( ) and used their laptops for more hours each day ( ). All students used laptops most frequently to access the internet (85% and 97%) and applications (Microsoft Word (80% and 61%) and Microsoft PowerPoint (80% and 63%)). Focus groups with students revealed appreciation for the laptops but frustration with the initial software image. Focus groups with faculty identified enthusiasm for mobile learning but acknowledged its limitations. Physical infrastructure and information technology support influenced mobile learning. Document analysis revealed significant costs and issues with maintenance. If adequately resourced, mobile learning through university-issued laptops would be feasible and have educational benefits, including equitable access to learning resources, when and where they are needed. However, barriers remain for full implementation.