The project is urgently required and timely. Mobile devices are ubiquitous and multifunctional and their use in clinical settings is gradually increasing. Physicians who use mobile technology find that by collapsing ‘time and space’ access to data and resources when moving between patients, wards and clinics is easier than using computers or paper (Prgoment et al., 2009). There are moves to embrace mobile technology in medical education. An Australian study recently reported that using it to check information just prior to seeing a patient supported clinical reasoning and decision-making (Luanrattana et al., 2012). Similarly, student midwives’ benefitted from increased confidence and immediate reassurance about their professional judgment through accessing video files on iPods (Clay, 2010). A Canadian study of nursing and medical students has highlighted the value of personal digital assistants in supporting clinical learning and preventing clinical isolation (Garnett & Jackson, 2006). Although these studies are in the minority they suggest that supporting students on placement with mobile technology has tangible benefits for developing skills that will contribute to their employability.

This project aims to extend the scope of the use of mobile devices by promoting access to learning resources and interaction between users and will examine how these benefits could be extended to the development of clinical reasoning skills. In addition to bridging the gap between theory and practice and improving clinical decision-making, mobile devices offer an alternative source of information reducing reliance on busy clinical educators. The use of mobile device as a mechanism to provide peer mentorship and support has the potential to reduce commonly experienced feelings of isolation, vulnerability and stress by opening channels of communication with university peers and academic tutors. Specialized delivery technologies such as WebApps have the advantage of not only supporting learning but also offers an alternative means of contact and support.

The project will build on existing knowledge of the use of mobile technology in practice to test its impact on the development of students’ clinical reasoning capabilities on placement and therefore their employability. It will also identify the benefits of this technology for clinical educators and visiting tutors in relation to placement stress experienced by the students and tutor time spent devoted to supporting students.


Project Plan

Project Plan for Website

Producing graduates who are fit for practice is a major enduring concern across all of the health and social care professions and fundamental to their employability. Sound clinical reasoning and the ability to articulate that reasoning are essential attributes for healthcare staff and therefore insights into interventions such as the use of mobile technology to support the development of these skills will benefit the whole sector.

Aside from providing insight into the benefits to students the project will seek to identify whether through increased peer support students are less dependent on their clinical educators and/or academic tutors. At the conclusion of the project a scheme run by the clinical coordinator and lead tutor in each of the two HEIs will ensure that the iPads will be used by students willing to try them out in diverse clinical settings providing feedback on their impact contributing to the sustainability of the project. More broadly this project will benefit students on health and social care programmes across the United Kingdom by offering insight into the ways in which technology can help to prepare students for employment.

Project Management Approach

The project will be managed by the Principal Investigator and Research Assistant at Coventry University in collaboration with the Clinical Coordinator for physiotherapy at Coventry University and the Clinical Lead in Occupational Therapy as the primary contact at the University of Derby. The Clinical Coordinator and Clinical Lead will be responsible for identifying physiotherapy and occupational therapy students and practice settings where the iPads might be used. They will also identify useful learning resources (Apps) in collaboration with their practice partners.

The Research Assistant at Coventry University in collaboration with the Clinical Coordinator and Clinical Lead will negotiate access at local sites and contact with the IT departments. Negotiations with IT departments may require support from Learning Technologists where technical questions are raised. She will be responsible for distributing project information, gaining consent from all participants, arranging focus groups and collecting and collating all data. She will work with the Learning Technologist at Coventry University and students from both HEIs to plan and develop the student App.

The Learning Technologists at Coventry University will be responsible for establishing and updating the project website, commissioning the iPads, uploading resources, conducting initial training in their use with the students from both HEIs and cleaning the ipads at the end of the first placement period. In preparation for Placement 2 the Coventry Learning technologists will hand over the briefing and maintenance of the iPads to the Clinical Lead and a Learning Technologist at the University of Derby. No provision has been made for Learning Technology support at the University of Derby as it is assumed that input will be limited to checking and cleaning iPads. Only free Apps will be uploaded to the iPads. Students will be encouraged to find useful additional Apps but to ensure that if they are bought for their own use they are removed to a personal device before cleaning. Decisions to make best use of available iPads in the event of student sickness or withdrawal from the project will be taken by the Principal Investigator in discussion with the project team and the external evaluator. The Principal Investigator will be responsible for liaising with the External Evaluator and the Project Consultant, Paul Chapman and for drafting and submitting the interim and final reports.

Stakeholders involved and/ or affected directly by the outcome of the project include:

Project Scope

The project will be conducted between July 2012 and December 2013.


The project includes:

Pre-registration students in years 1, 2 or 3 of the BSc (Hons) in Physiotherapy programme delivered at Coventry University and the BSc(Hons) Occupational Therapy and MSc Occupational Therapy programmes delivered at the University of Derby.


The project does not include:

Dependencies and Assumptions


The dissemination strategy focused on ensuring that the findings from the study have impact on the health and social care professional community so that professional education in practice settings is improved. Specifically, we will seek to illustrate how supporting students to learn and develop clinical reasoning capability and therefore their employability can be enhanced through the use of mobile technology on placement.

The research also inform placement support teams in HEIs about the utility of mobile technology and possibly offers an alternative model of placement support that is both effective and cost effective.

Dissemination platforms:


Click on the poster for A4 pdf version.

Flyer One Flyer One




Established Educators Programme – Winter 2013

"Lynn Clouder and Arinola Adefila presented a brief overview of a 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…"

Full article can be found here:
Spring 13 Newsletter 1


The report has been submitted an will be available here once validated.


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Contact Us

Phone: (024) 7688 8292

Project Team

Arinola Adefila
Research Assistant
Coventry University

Imran Ali
Senior Learning Technologist
Coventry University

Steven Ball
Learning Technologist
Senior Coventry University

Helen Bradley
Lead Tutor for Occupational Therapy Practice Placement Education
University of Derby

Paul Chapman (Consultant)
Head of Community Clinical Systems
The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust

Lynn Clouder
Director: Centre for Excellence in Learning Enhancement (CELE)
Coventry University

Lawrie Peck
Senior Learning Systems and Resources Advisor
University of Derby

Margaret Sills (Evaluator)
Health, Education, and Training Consultant

Nigel Williams
Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy (Cardio-Respiratory)
Coventry University