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Adoption and Use of Mobile Learning in Continuing Professional Development by Health and Human Services Professionals

Curran, Vernon PhD; Fleet, Lisa MA; Simmons, Karla MA; Lannon, Heather BSW, MSW; Gustafson, Diana L. MEd, PhD; Wang, Chenfang BA; Garmsiri, Mahyar BSc (Hon); Wetsch, Lyle MBA, MSc

Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions: Spring 2019 - Volume 39 - Issue 2 - p 76–85
doi: 10.1097/CEH.0000000000000243
Original Research
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Introduction: Health and human services professionals are increasingly using mobile devices to support clinical decision-making and evidence-based practice. However, research on self-directed learning in an era of growing digital technology utilization is underdeveloped. This study explored the adoption and use of mobile learning as a continuing professional development (CPD) activity.

Methods: A mixed-methods case study using semistructured interviews and a web-based questionnaire was conducted with health and human services professionals in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Results: Respondents reported using a smartphone (53.8%), tablets (50.4%), YouTube (43.0%), and mobile apps (35.8%) for CPD. The highest-rated benefits of mobile learning included improved access to information (M = 3.51); potential for enhanced knowledge acquisition (M = 3.45); staying up to date (M = 3.44); and verifying information (M = 3.40). The greatest barriers included cost of some apps and resources (M = 3.07); websites/programs not functional on mobile devices (M = 2.84); workplace barriers preventing access to digital resources (M = 2.82); and social media use linked to negative perceptions of professionalism (M = 2.65). Interview respondents described the flexibility and convenience of mobile learning, the level of autonomy it offered, and the advantages of learning on their own time. Technical issues, particularly for rural and remote practitioners, and digital professionalism also emerged as potential barriers.

Discussion: A systems model organizes the factors influencing the adoption and use of mobile devices and resources to support “just-in-time” learning. Addressing policies, practices, and regulations that enable or inhibit adoption of mobile learning for CPD may foster enhanced use to support better clinical decision-making, improved accuracy, and greater patient safety.

Dr. Curran: Associate Dean of Educational Development, Professor of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Ms. Fleet: Manager of Research, Office of Professional Development, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Ms. Simmons: Research Assistant, Office of Professional Development, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Ms. Lannon: Research Assistant, Royal Roads University, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Dr. Gustafson: Professor, Social Science and Health, Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Ms. Wang: Research Assistant, Office of Professional Development, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Mr. Garmsiri: Research Assistant, Office of Professional Development, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Mr. Wetsch: Chair, Teaching and Learning, Associate Professor, Marketing, Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Correspondence: Vernon Curran, PhD, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University, St. John's, NL, Canada A1B 3V6; e-mail: vcurran@mun.ca.

Disclosures: This study was funded by an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (http://www.jcehp.org).

© 2019 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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