Dr Clare Mc Veigh, Susan Carlisle, Matt Birch and Dr Helen Kerr from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast designed and ran The SPLENdidS study. You can find out more at the EBN blog https://tinyurl.com/y2arwjbc
The EBN Twitter Chat on Wednesday 17th April 2019, was hosted by Dr Claire McVeigh, The SPLENdidS Study explored the feasibility of delivering symptom management education in a university setting to first year undergraduate nursing students through mobile spaced learning. Post intervention, participants completed an online survey (n=12) and a focus group (n=8) was held. Students viewed digital spaced learning as an acceptable education platform that enhanced their learning in relation to holistic symptom management. They perceived that this intervention improved their engagement with educational material and provided optimal and effective feedback. However digital learning is perceived as being complimentary to traditional teaching methodologies, and not a replacement. Dr McVeigh explained how each student’s performance was recorded and how they were provided with immediate feedback. This online platform is built upon the psychological theory of learning that education that is ‘spaced’ and ‘repeated over time’ can deliver more efficient learning. This learning enabled Dr McVeigh and her team to facilitate and extend learning beyond traditional classroom hours, with flexible and interactive ways of engaging with content.
One twitter chat participant asked if mobile spaced learning had demonstrated effectiveness previously in students in higher education. Dr McVeigh explained that one particular form of digital spaced learning had been developed at Harvard Medical School in the US. There are also several RCTs that demonstrate learning and long term knowledge retention https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022534709003528
Another question related to particular topics which are more suitable to this platform and whether or not anatomy and physiology could be taught via this platform as it’s a challenging area for students. It was felt this could be accommodated. Mobile apps were requested by students and seems to be a way forward. Fig1 and MEDizzy, which are medically focused apps were mentioned. They allow students to respond to the app in terms of diagnosis/treatment/management. This form of learning has been delivered in other academic institutions using technology called @Qstream Qstream is a microlearning platform used throughout many hospital and medical schools around the world to effectively reinforce clinical knowledge, improve proficiency and change behaviours https://qstream.com/healthcare/
Challenges in the study included the need for the learning material to be engaging and not too overwhelming for the student. ‘Bitesize’ chunks were good! It was suggested that many virtual learning environment usability challenges, including mobile app functionality, would be overcome if the team’s spaced learning technique was embedded into a full registered module rather than a stand-alone pilot.
In relation to student satisfaction, students were extremely positive about the immediate feedback they received when they answered MCQs and also felt the link to key resources and a key take home message enhanced their learning. Another key aspect of this approach was that the activities were memorable. Memorability is a key component of a good digital learning experience. Matt Birch the learning technologist involved in the SPLENdidS study said that depending on the VLE, there could be plenty of scope for instructor-student and student-student feedback. There would also be plenty of scope for multi-modal synchronous and asynchronous commentary. It would just have to be appropriately built into the learning design.
Previous work by the team has highlighted the role digital education platforms have in enhancing healthcare education for patients with holistic symptom needs https://bmcpalliatcare.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12904-019-0408-7
Don’t forget to join the next EBN Twitter chat on 1st May at 8pm (UK time). More details on the topic will be available soon.