Learning on the Go at Christiana Care

By Jill Schwab and Tom Hendrich

Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Delaware, is piloting a mobile learning program.

Mobile learning, or m-learning, is not a new concept in medical education: Physicians have been learning on their own via books, recordings, and journals for a very long time. So what’s new? Why would physicians and students want to learn through their mobile devices? Why should you incorporate this technology to reach learners?

M-learning is accessible. Learners can access content on the go through popular iPads, iPhones, and Androids. Whether in the clinic, at the hospital, or in between, physicians can access your learning content where they are, and when they want.

M-learning is connected. Connecting email, websites, Google, and applications used to prescribe and reference, mobile devices give physicians the option to multitask, finding relevant materials connected to their learning wherever they are.

M-learning is social. Because mobile devices are connected to Facebook and blogs, it’s easy to take learning conversations onto social media channels. Learners can express thoughts and opinion, seek advice, and connect with others around topics of interest.

M-learning is engaging. Content can include text, audio, video, and rich media to engage learners in multiple ways.

Mobile learning is learner-centric, an attractive feature of a learning delivery channel. We believe that it will gain in popularity — in fact, that physicians will increasingly demand it — as the demands of modern medical practice continue to shift to patient-focused activity. Physicians will become more reliant on their mobile devices to  augment patient-focused activity and interact with patient data.

Demographics will play a key role as well. By 2020, over 50 percent of the workforce will be Millennials (born between 1977 and 1997), writes Jeanne Meister, Ph.D., in her book The 2020 Workplace. Millennials are hyperconnected, valuing connecting through mobile devices and social media as a key part of engagement. You are probably seeing this in your medical students now, and this hyperconnectedness will play a bigger role in medical education with each passing year.

Building an effective mobile learning offering requires answering five questions.

What are your goals? What role will mobile offerings play, and how will instructional material be designed to reinforce other curriculum offerings and maximize the mobile platform?

How will legacy content be supported? Legacy materials can many times be directly leveraged as PDFs or lightly converted into mobile-friendly formats and treatments.

What functionality do you seek? Will offline content review, integration with the learning management system, download of the m-learning app through the App Store, and/or use of rich media be required as part of the rollout?

What is your learning organization’s capability? Do you have the expertise in-house, or will you need vendor capabilities to develop the mobile learning technology? Many organizations use a blend of both to develop the mobile learning capability.

At Christiana Care, our mobile learning pilot programs have included training on compliance and cultural competence. Early results are promising, with those who choose to explore the mobile learning pilot enjoying the freedom and flexibility that mobile learning provides.

—Jill Schwab, M.Ed., is Learning Institute and Development Director for Christiana Care Health System. She specializes in learning design, executive coaching, and career development.

—Tom Hendrich is Learning and Development Consultant for Christiana Care Health System. He specializes in e-learning, mobile learning, and social media.