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  1. 1. Medicine at your Fingertips PDAs @
  2. 2. PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) • Small, typically handheld devices used for the: – collection – retrieval – management – exchange of information – Diary, address book, e-mail, notes, expenses etc. • Benefits: – Portability – Low unit cost – Ease of use
  3. 3. PDA Projects in Medical Education • Many projects in the USA – Harvard – Buffalo – Stanford etc. • Some projects in the UK – Leicester – Junior Drs – Oxford - RAMBLE
  4. 4. PDAs @ BSMS • Aim – To use PDAs as an enabling technology to facilitate student learning, information retrieval and information exchange between both students and students and BSMS
  5. 5. The Challenges • Demonstrable benefit to users rather than succumbing to the seduction of technology • Providing services specific to the needs of BSMS students and staff • Ease of use • Low management overhead
  6. 6. Management Strategy • Objective – A PDA for every BSMS student from year 3 onwards configured so that the device delivers value to the student and BSMS through: • the provision of a suite of carefully selected static applications which provide core reference material to the students on demand • connectivity and access to studentcentral through the provision of the necessary backend systems • the ability to synchronise with the BSMS systems to facilitate mobile working • the ability to work with dynamic data in real time via wireless networking
  7. 7. Management Strategy Benefits to users • Content is king – The provision of content and materials which deliver value to the students and staff is key to the success of the project. – Information delivers value - technology only enables - without a positive and pressing reason to use the technology the project will wither. • Content selection – Content selected by the faculty and BSMS information professionals to reflect and complement the curriculum – Used focus groups of faculty and students to define needs and useful applications – Content develops as students move through the course • Integration into the curriculum – In order to make PDAs meaningful to the students they must be integrated into the curriculum as tools which are required to be used. – There should be PDA specific tasks and functions.
  8. 8. Management Strategy • Staff buy-in – Staff must see an educational benefit in the solution via the applications as well as the technology. • Student buy-in – Students must see a benefit in the solution via the applications as well as the technology. The PDA needs to deliver real value to them educationally and personally far in excess of their commitment in terms of time and resources. • Training – user training is mandatory – training can be basic but must be hands on – training should cover specific aspects of the applications – training should cover the management of the device e.g. charging, backing up etc. – training and good practice need to be reinforced through further scheduled sessions
  9. 9. Management Strategy • Provision of equipment – don’t give PDA’s to students. Evidence shows that he student’s value and commitment to the PDA is related to what the student paid for it. • Technical support – Provided by BSMS with support from Medhand and Palm • Backup – Individuals are responsible for their own backups
  10. 10. Content • Static - Preloaded e-books, reference works, programmes and learning materials • Delivered - Further materials delivered to the PDA by synching providing material for mobile use and interaction. The results of any interaction are uploaded the next time the PDA is synchronised with the server. • Dynamic - Material delivered to the PDA by a live wireless connection, e.g. using a web-browser with which users interact in real time to search for information or fill in and submit a form • Self made - Content created by the users for their own use • Collaborative - Content created by the user for their own use and sharing with colleagues
  11. 11. Technical Strategy • Standards based approach – basing the implementation around existing standards: • a PDA platform independent system which is remains valid when students are providing their own handhelds. • a solution which is scaleable - it can be expanded and developed to meet future needs • a solution which is sustainable (today’s material can be used in the future) • Investment – invest in the supporting backend systems, design and development and infrastructure not in the handhelds themselves.
  12. 12. Technical Strategy • Integration with the PDAs own software – Do not attempt to synchronise the academic applications or channels with the PDAs own personal information management (PIM) software as this proprietary – Provide localised BSMS information • PDA platform – Aim to be platform agnostic in 12 months • HMS are platform agnostic and a survey of their user base showed 80% Palm and 20% Pocket PC (2004) • Buffalo are platform specific and are 100% Palm • Ease of use – aim for a synch time of 60 seconds
  13. 13. The story so far… • Student’s buy their own PDA – 3 recommended models priced £130-299 – 4 short term loan PDA’s available • BSMS provides the static content – Dr Companion software – Multi-platform SD card • Palm, Pocket Windows, Mac OSX, Windows • >140 BSMS students in years 3 and 4 have their own PDA and a copy of the Dr Companion software
  14. 14. The story so far cont’d… • BSMS providing BSMS localised content – Working on Module handbooks for Year 5 • Student’s sync their PDA with their BSMS Outlook e-mail • Increased ease of use - browser-like interface – Consistent across platforms; Palm, Mac OSX, Windows • Ongoing collaborative development BSMS/ Medhand
  15. 15. The near future… • BSMS provides more BSMS localised content – Term calendars and timetables – BSMS databases • ‘Push’ technology for updating material and adding new material • Delivered content via I/R and wireless synching – studentcentral materials and other learning information • Dynamic content via wireless/Bluetooth connectivity • New year 3 students
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