Maintaining connectivity and enhancing communication through the use of text messaging in an undergraduate nursing programme.
In: RCN Joint Education Forums’ Conference and Exhibition. Partners in Practice, 21-22 February 2010, Blackpool.
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The purpose of this paper is to present the findings of a study that examined the use of a Short Message Service (SMS) (or ‘Text Messaging’) to enhance communication and participation with students on an undergraduate nursing programme. The ideology behind the study is based on an awareness that technology is not always recognised by nursing students as a useful aspect of their education and practice. Therefore it was considered that integrating this ubiquitous from of technology use might help them to recognise the usefulness of technology as an aid to enhance and develop more effective ways of learning and working.
Short Message Service (SMS) is a communications protocol allowing the interchange of short text messages between mobile phones. It is the most widely available data application on the planet with over 2.4 billion users (Wikipedia 2008). The advantages in using SMS messaging include ‘always-on’ communication, connectivity to real world learning contexts, ‘top of mind’ direct access and ‘just for me’ personal communication (Jones & Bunting 2008). The widespread availability of mobile phones provides an opportunity to establish and maintain a sense of connectedness in helping learners to engage with their programme of study as almost everyone can participate in synchronous and asynchronous communication. Laurillard (2008) suggests that we should ‘harness technology to meet the needs of education rather than simply search for problems to which technology is the solution’. This concept has particular relevance for the learners in this study who undertake clinical learning experiences throughout their programme of study that are geographically dispersed over a large area for periods of time ranging from two to eight weeks. Text messaging was used to develop and maintain strong links between the tutor/programme director and the students throughout the duration of the programme.
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