Will mobile learning improve your training results? A recent study suggests that the answer is yes – if you do it right.

A medical education organization in South Korea recently created more than 300 free, mobile-enabled e-learning modules to help advanced medical students apply their skills in the real world of clinics and hospitals. Each module was fast-paced, focused and 10 to 20 minutes in length.

Three thousand students across 34 medical schools accessed the modules. Of those students, more than 400 participated in the study.

The verdict is in…
The first concern was utilization: Would students actually watch the modules? By this measure, the program was an overwhelming success. The modules received an average of 17,000 views per month.

The other big concern was effectiveness: Did learners find the modules useful as they transitioned from classroom to clinic?

The answer was a resounding yes:

  • 88% of students said that the modules enhanced their understanding of the material.
  • 42% used the videos to improve their understanding of topics that were unclear from classroom instruction.
  • 21% said they learned skills they hadn’t previously understood or were never taught in school.

Learning in the moment of need

One of the biggest benefits, students reported, was the the convenience of “just in time” refreshers.

Eighty-six percent said the modules were useful as a reinforcement tool in the moment of need, and over a third reported that they’d viewed a video to refresh their memory right before they used a technique in the clinic or hospital.

These findings suggest a critical role for m-learning: delivering learning at the exact time and place where it’s needed most.

With traditional training – including desktop e-learning – there’s an inescapable gap between learning and doing. You have to count on learners to remember what they’ve been taught and to apply it later on when the need arises. M-learning can help close that gap. When the need arises, it’s already there.

The study also noted two factors that appeared to contribute to the program’s success:

Short-form modules. Each module was brief and focused on a specific skill. Short form lends itself perfectly to mobile viewing and just-in-time training. The content – targeted on the development of a clearly defined skill – provided just the right amount of information.

Integration with other learning modalities.
M-learning didn’t replace classroom instruction; it built on it. Students benefited from the expertise, discussions and peer interactions provided by the classroom environment. But in many cases, students reported that they gained additional clarity and understanding from the modules.

Jang, H. W., and Kim, K. J. (2014). Use of online clinical videos for clinical skills training for medical students: Benefits and challenges. BMC Medical Education, 14:56. doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-56.

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