June 29, 2010

How iPhone 4 Affects Nursing Education

The iPhone and iPod Touch have now been available with downloadable healthcare software for two years. The number of applications of interest to nursing faculty has expanded to nearly 1000 applications (out of the over 200,000 applications) in the Apple App Store. Apple has now combined the operating system for iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches into the iOS. This will help developers create software for all the devices, all of which have nursing education implications.

The introduction of the iPhone 4 adds to the versatility of the Apple devices in education. The biggest change to the phone from an educators perspective is the much improved display. The iPhone 4 has the twice the resolution of the old phone. It is now much easier to read even very tiny text on the screen. For nursing educators this means students can read health-related texts and web pages with much more ease. The free iBooks app allows the importation of pdf files. Faculty could distribute course syllabi, class notes, or supplemental readings in an easily transportable form.

In addition to the great display the iPhone 4 has improved still and video camera capability, a front facing camera for video chat, and a much faster processor. I recommend you get a demonstration of the new phone if you are in the market. I predict that Apple will also be updating their iPod Touch in the coming months to take advantage of the display and processing improvements. All the more reason to consider adding a handheld computer to the nursing curriculum.

May 3, 2010

One Month as a Nurse Educator with an iPad

One month ago I stood in line to pick up my reserved 16-gig WiFi iPad. So what is the state of the iPad as it pertains to nursing education? How does it compare clinically and educationally to the iPhone? I have taken both the iPad and the 3G iPhone to my clinical site, and the University where I work, and found that each has its advantages and disadvantages. Here they are:

Internet Access: Winner- iPad. As long as you are within WiFi, and I am at the hospital, the University, and most other public places I visit, the Internet browsing experience is much faster and easier to use than on an iPhone. I have long been unable to use Flash on the iPhone and it hasn't made much difference in my browsing.

E-Mail: Winner- iPad. The mail application is especially nice in the landscape mode. I can see my e-mail accounts, easily and quickly open messages, and manage those messages much faster than on the iPhone.

Reading: Winner- iPad. I never owned an e-reader such as a Kindle so reading e-books has been a new experience. So far I love it. The ability to change font size, bookmark, and see full color illustrations has been very helpful. I am reading more now than before as I can quickly read a few pages without having to carry every book.

Clinical Applications: Winner- iPhone. While the iPad's size makes for easy viewing it is also too big to carry around in an inpatient hospital setting. The iPad doesn't fit in a scrub pocket or lab coat so that means carrying around with my other papers. Another issue is that there are few clinical apps so far that take advantage of the iPad's features. Most of my iPad apps are just iPhone apps at 2X size. The iPhone is still the fastest way to quickly find clinical information. On the other hand, finding and reading a journal article is far better on the iPad.

So my final grade for the iPad is: Incomplete but showing great potential. It does a lot of things very well right now. When nursing textbooks designed for the iPad become available it will really make the use of paper texts a thing of the past. We also need to see clinical applications that can really take advantage of the larger screen.

March 25, 2010

5 Must Haves for Apple iPad Nursing e-books

With release of the Apple iPad around the corner there have yet been any announcements about the availability of nursing texts. The iPad has great potential as a replacement for paper textbooks, but iPad nursing texts need to be more than electronic versions of the old. Here are some features that publishers need to include to make e-reader books better learning tools for nursing students:
1. Hypertext within the book. Keywords and links to other portions of the text would enable the reader to jump around the book and find the other relevant sections with ease. For example, in a section on care of a patient in a cast could link to another section on neurovascular assessment. Additionally, every word in the index should link to the respective section.

2. Large images. Currently, images in textbooks are limited in size due to space limitations. E-Books have no space limitations. Images should be enlargeable to the size of the e-reader screen. This would allow students to get much better images to study. Thinks of the detail for skin conditions, retinas, or cell images.

3. Embedded video. Textbooks have been limited to still images, until now. Procedures, communication examples, or animated processes should be embedded within the text.

4. Relevant Internet Links. While recent texts have included websites, e-books can actually link to those sites. The Apple iPad has Wi-Fi or, in some models, 3G network access. Nursing students should be able to instantly visit any sites listed. Links could also go to data that changes frequently such as daily morbidity statistics.

5. Embedded audio. Like images and video there are also sounds such as lung, heart, and bowel sounds that could be included. Additionally, image great lecturers including audio to help students learn difficult subjects.

It is time for nursing publishers, and nurse authors, to begin to think "outside the covers". What other things do you think nursing e-books should have?

March 18, 2010

Clinical guidelines for use of electronic devices

Any of you teaching clinical have seen that nearly every student comes to clinical with at least a cell phone. Many now have iPhones or Blackberry devices loaded with clinical software. It has long been standard practice that students are not to engage in personal business while functioning as a nursing student in the clinical setting. New technologies now obligate nursing faculty to be more explicit in directing the proper use of these devices.

Some agencies and nursing schools have proposed banning mobile devices altogether. This is unwise as important clinical software is now available for these devices. Faculty should be encouraging the use of new technologies and applying the latest information when conducting patient care.

Here are some guidelines to establish with students. These should be put into your syllabus to clarify your expectations:

1. Protect patient privacy: Students may not use cameras to take pictures of patients. Healthcare data that identifies a patient is not to be removed, or transmitted, from the clinical site. Lab values and other assessments can be stored as long as no patient names or identifying numbers are connected to the data.

2. Professional conduct: Students are not permitted to engage in personal business while performing as a clinical student without faculty permission. This includes voice calls, texting, or Internet browsing for nonclinical information.

February 13, 2010

iPad will help teach use of iPhone apps

One of the difficult things about implementing an iPhone or iPod Touch device for nursing students is showing them the screen in action. If you are savvy enough to download the iPhone SDK and run the iPhone Simulator it is possible, but well beyond the skills of most nursing faculty. When demonstrating software the best thing to have is a real time projected display of the teacher's computer. The iPhone has no video out so your only option, after the Simulator, is to use a video camera. Not a very elegant solution.

The Apple iPad removes that obstacle. The iPad has a video out report (which requires an adapter) that will let faculty display the screen. The iPhone software will run on the iPad in either original size or double sized. We will have to wait to see how good this looks. So, if you are teaching the use of iPhone apps for your nursing students I suggest buying an iPad with a video out adapter.

January 29, 2010

Apple iPad will change the nursing textbook business

The announcement of Apple's iPad has been widely discussed this week. While it is unclear how successful the iPad will be nurse educators should begin to consider how it may be used in teaching and learning. The iPad is basically a large iPod Touch. With its larger 9.7" diagonal screen it offers much more room for reading.

A shortcoming of the iPod Touch and iPhone for students is difficulty in using them as e-readers. The iPad takes the e-reader concept pioneered by the Amazon Kindle and brings it new Apple shine. Full color, high-resolution, and even a three-dimensional look to pages make the iPad the first device that could replace a paper textbook. Students who have all their text in the iPad can have their whole library with them, but without the sore back from carrying large texts.

I quizzed my clinical group about their interest in have such as device to carry their books. Nearly all of them thought it would be great. They want books that have highlighting, bookmarking, and automatic updating. They tell me that they often have to drag their books to quiet places to study and would welcome something so portable.

So for nurse educators, we need to keep talking with publishers about their plans for a digital version of their textbooks. A big advantage for publisher is that they can inexpensively distribute evaluation copies of their texts. Nursing departments should invest in a least one iPad and test it out as books become available.