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I've been hearing a lot about applications for mobile devices being used for training and education. What are these exactly, and should we be using them?

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Mobile devices and mobile platforms are rapidly changing and expanding due to ever-developing technology. While cell phones used to have just basic capabilities several years ago, they now have multiple applications, or apps. Smartphones such as the iPhone™, Blackberry®, and Android™, have become increasingly popular for personal use and are gaining acceptance in hospital settings as pager technology becomes outdates. Some companies have grown just on their ability to develop applications, which are generally very inexpensive to purchase and easy to use.

Apps have already been developed and are usable for drug references and calculations, as well as “flashcards” for autonomy, musculoskeletal, neuroscience, and medical terminology. As this technology continues to evolve, expect to see more and more apps that all heathcare providers use. They can be great adjuncts to the learning process while employing technology that many people have already embraced.

By nature, the devices are mobile and can go anywhere that the user goes, which means learning can take place anywhere. References for drugs, diseases, etc. are easily accessible via the device. However, not everyone is comfortable with mobile devices. They can be considered a nuisance by some.

The best way to get started is to get a device and start using it to investigate its benefits and challenges. At this point, mobile devices are used more as an adjunct and would be integrated into evaluation of the total learning experience.

Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN

(December 2010)