Break a Leg! How iPods Help Healthcare Students to Get Perfect X-Ray Images

© Geoff Glover

In health care, adequate training of professional staff can literally be a matter of life and death. Students in this sector not only have to absorb extensive amounts of knowledge but they also need to be able to put theoretical knowledge into practice – quickly and correctly. At the University of Derby, UK, a team of lecturers and e-learning developers have used the small iPod Nano model to enhance the training of health care professionals and at the same time enable them to review important resources just when they need it most – within the work environment. At OEB, the team will share their experiences drawn from a study involving eighty students and nine hospitals within the British East Midlands.

The project originated three years ago when Geoff Glover, subject lead of Radiography and Pharmacy at the University of Derby, together with an e-learning development manager and two lecturers decided to create additional video footage to supplement traditional learning resources. The purpose of this material was to support undergraduates studying for a BSc in Diagnostic Radiography with the complex procedures involved in taking x-ray images. In order to do so, the clips explain the technical positioning of the patients by showing the procedure with a test person supplemented by voice-overs and animated graphics. So far, 72 videos with training instructions have been produced by the team.

© Geoff Glover

At first, the training videos were handed out on DVDs, but soon the researchers were looking for ways to make them available on other platforms as well. “The idea of using iPods came from one of the team members who experimented with his wife’s Christmas present,” says Geoff Glover, explaining the move to Apple’s popular media player iPod Nano. These devices allow students to access the material anytime and anywhere, not only in the clinical simulation room at the University, but first and foremost in the actual hospital environment. “The material included is directly relevant to the work, and the students are encouraged to refer to their iPods prior to examining their patients, using the devices as a reminder of the procedure,” Glover points out.

iPods for work-based learning offer several unique benefits, he adds: “The iPods make students independent of any network or server. They are also well accepted by new users and very much ‘fit for purpose’ – unlike smart phones that are technically superior but maybe too excessive as a video platform”. iPods allow easy and quick access to the material.

© Geoff Glover

Following students’ feedback, simplified clips were produced, summarising key elements of each video, making their consultation on the mobile device even more effective in everyday use.

Whilst the professional staff at the hospitals is impressed by the quality of the mobile training videos, the students need to remain aware of their special work environment. “We are insistent that they do not use the iPods directly with their patients, and issues of professional behavior and appropriate usage of the devices are most important within the hospital setting,” Geoff Glover explains.

The latest generation of iPods of the Nano series could have even greater potential for students’ training: they provide integrated cameras. “Students could capture ‘their’ learning for sharing with their peers and academic tutors,” Glover adds. “Assuming you are mindful of the potential issues of recording, such devices provide students and academics with real a opportunity to engage in meaningful learning and create resources that have direct relevance to vocational training.”

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