Investigating the Use of Smartphones for Learning Purposes by Australian Dental Students
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Background: Mobile Internet devices and smartphones have at present a significant potential as learning tools and the development of educational interventions based on smartphones have attracted increasing attention. Objective: The objective of this study was to obtain a deeper insight in the nature of students' use of smartphones, as well as their attitudes towards educational use of mobile devices in order to design successful teaching interventions. Method: A questionnaire was designed, aiming to investigate the actual daily habitual use, as well as the attitudes of dental students towards smartphones for their university education purposes. The survey was used to collect data from 232 dental students. Results: Of the 232 respondents, 204 (87.9%) owned a smartphone, and 191 (82.3%) had access to third generation (3G) mobile carriers. The most popular devices were the iPhone and Android. Most of the respondents had intermediate smartphone skills and used smartphones for a number of learning activities. Only 75/232 (32.3%) had specific educational applications installed, while 148/232 (63.7%) used smartphones to access to social media and found it valuable for their education (P<.05). Students accessing social media with their smartphones also showed significantly more advanced skills with smartphones than those who did not (P<.05). There was no significant association between age group, gender, origin, and smartphone skills. There was positive correlation between smartphone skills and students' attitudes toward improving access to learning material (r=.43, P<.05), helping to learn more independently (r=.44, P<.05), and use of smartphones by teaching staff (r=.45, P<.05). Conclusion: The results in this study suggest that students use smartphones and social media for their education even though this technology has not been formally included in the curriculum. This might present an opportunity for educators to design educational methods, activities, and material that are suitable for smartphones and allow students to use this technology, thereby accommodating students' current diverse learning approaches.
Journal of Medical Internet Research mHealth uHealth
© The Author(s) 2014. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/) which permits unrestricted distribution and reproduction in any medium, providing that the work is properly cited.
Dentistry not elsewhere classified