The role of technology in health professions education has received increased research attention. Research has examined the interaction between humans and technology, focusing on the mutual influence between people and technology. Little attention has been given to the role of motivation and incentives in how learning technologies are used in relation to daily activities. This research aims to understand the relationship between medical-learning technology and its users.
A mixed-method case study of a new medical-learning mobile application (app) for family medicine residents was undertaken at a Canadian university hospital. The Information Assessment Method is a custom-made app to help residents prepare for the College of Family Physicians of Canada licensing examination. Residents’ use of the app was tracked over a 7-month period and individual, semi-structured interviews were conducted with users. Data were thematically analyzed and correlated with app use data.
Factors identified as shaping residents’ mobile app use for learning, included: efficiency, mobility and resonance with life context; credibility of information retrieved; and relevance of content. Most influential was stage of residency. Second-year residents were more selective and strategic than first-year residents in their app use.
An emphasis on coherence between self-directed learning and externally dictated learning provides a framework for understanding the relationship between users and mobile-learning technology. This framework can guide the design, implementation and evaluation of learning interventions for healthcare professionals and learners.