Case Studies

Case Studies

Using mobile devices in practice settings to improve the employability of occupational therapy and physiotherapy students

Lynn Clouder, Arinola Adefila, Imran Ali and Steven Ball are involved in this Higher Education Academy funded collaborative project between Coventry University and the University of Derby. Ethical clearance was sought through the IRAS system but proved to be unnecessary due to it not involving patient data or clinical research. The project objectives are:

  1. To extend the evidence base on the impact of mobile learning on linking theory and practice, accessing timely knowledge and enhancing peer support to contribute to the development of students’ employability through perceived enhancement of their clinical reasoning capabilities on placement
  2. To identify the challenges to using mobile devices to promote learning on placement. including their acceptability with respect to professional/organizational culture
  3. To identify perceptions of whether students’ use of mobile technology reduces reliance on clinical educators and academic tutors responsible for facilitating learning and supporting students on placement
  4. To make recommendations for future health and social care professional education.

The project is an 18 month project which began in July 2012. Since then a small number of occupational therapy students and physiotherapy students have been given iPads to use as they see fit on placement. For sustainability reasons the iPads rely on Wifi but the students have been introduced to Samba Mobile as a means of gaining free internet access. The iPADs have a number of free apps (shown below) preloaded for students to access but they have been encouraged to add to these and in fact several additional useful Apps have been found.

HEA Mobile Project

Students were reminded that they must observe confidentiality and anonymity of patients/clients but otherwise to see what use they could make of the ipads. Initial findings suggest that there are tangible benefits especially but not limited to community settings with respect to:

  • Facilitating pre-placement planning
  • Providing a space for students to keep all relevant papers etc together
  • Informing discussion with educators
  • Timeliness and immediacy of access to information
  • Revising just prior to a patient consultation
  • Providing access to advise and guidance in direct contact with patients/clients.

Students have identified several additional Apps that they recommend to other students and some gaps in what is available to support learning especially in occupational therapy. The project team are looking at options for developing Apps with the students as a direct result.

After the project ends 4 iPads will be remain at the disposal of the Physiotherapy Clinical Team for continued use and evaluation of impact. It may be that they are offered to students with specific learning needs or on a first come first served basis.

The project is ongoing and as local permissions are extended students will be placed in an increasingly wide range of specialties and settings so you might find you are contacted to ask for your support. If you would like more information on the project visit


Digital Story Telling to Enhance Occupational Therapy Students Employability

This case study presents the use of digital story telling as an innovative assessment technique (Surridge 2007). The assessment provides an opportunity for students to combine their personal career narrative stories with reflection by using technology to enhance their learning and prepare them for future employment.

The digital career narrative was embedded in the newly developed ‘Employability and Entrepreneurship’ level 3 module. The key assessed element was the career narrative.

Stakeholders included: students, the occupational therapy department at Coventry University, CELE learning technologists and occupational therapy practice partners.

The module incorporated a blended learning approach to content delivery. All module information in addition to class based lectures was delivered via the Coventry University Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle).

Career Narrative Moodle

Software Used

All software was carefully selected and evaluated before the practical sessions ran based on availability and ease of use. The chosen software used was Audacity (open source PC and Mac) for audio editing and Windows Movie Maker (PC) / iMovie (Mac) for video editing.

Practical Sessions

In the first half of the session, students were given a demonstration of how to produce a video narrative by firstly recording the audio, then selecting the visual elements, editing them together and finally outputting a viewable video. Considerations such as the legitimate use of images via only using Creative Commons Attribution licensed images was also discussed.

The second half consisted of the students having a hands on experience of creating a short video clip of their own so by the end of the session they had a working knowledge of how to produce the assignment piece.

Online Interactive Tutorials

Step by step interactive tutorials were created in SoftChalk and Wink to support the student with their private study. These tutorials were also used in the practical sessions for the hands on experience.

Career Narrative Tutorial

Drop in Sessions

Closer to the assignment deadline a number of drop in session were run for those student who were experiencing technical difficulties or simply wanted some help using additional techniques.


The impact of this blended learning module is that students will have increased confidence in their ability to reflect upon their career and have developed digital literacy skills which they can apply in their future practice. In addition, it has provided an opportunity for an innovative form of assessment within the department and this practice can be shared across the university. It is envisaged in the long term that this will enhance students’ employability, providing them with confidence to explore unknown territories.

NHS Local
Learning digital literacy skills to enhance employability

West Midlands Education Innovation and Notable Practice
Digital Story Telling to Enhance Occupational Therapy Students Employability



Centre for Excellence in Learning Enhancement