Experiences of undergraduate nursing students on an authentic mobile learning enactment at a higher education institution in South Africa

03 Sep 2019

Background Mobile technology has infiltrated our day to day existence through provision of inexhaustible access to communication and information. In education, mobile devices are not only used as tools to reinforce information, motivate and accentuate engagement, but it additionally enables the delivery of course content. The adoption of authentic technological innovations using the variety of distinguishing attributes available on mobile devices could potentially promote a mobile learning enactment. Objective The purpose of the study was to explore the experiences of undergraduate nursing students who participated in an authentic mobile learning enactment aimed at enhancing their learning experiences. Design This study used a qualitative contextual design. Setting and Participants Undergraduate nursing students, of a School of Nursing in a Faculty of Community and Health Sciences at a university in South Africa, were the study participants. All students (n?=?101) registered for the primary care and clinical skills module were invited to submit reflections based on their experiences on an authentic mobile learning enactment using WhatsApp Messenger. Method Students submitted electronic reflections after every two-week cycle of the enactment. The data collected was categorised into emerging themes as analysed by the researcher guided by Tesch's (1990) systematic process. An independent coder reviewed the data and, through consensus, themes identified were confirmed. Results One hundred and one participants (n?=?101; 100%) submitted online reflections on their experiences during the authentic mobile learning enactment. Seven themes were identified which included: mobile devices afforded a learning platform; mobile learning enactment enhanced engagement; learning within a group made learning easier; flexibility in time allocated to complete tasks; challenges experienced with data/airtime/Wi-Fi; impaired communication due to poor network access and use of mobile devices in practice perceived as unprofessional. Conclusion The study provided valuable insights into students' experiences of the authentic mobile learning enactment, as well as suggesting ways to enhance the effectiveness of such an enactment.