A pilot study recently published in AIDS Research and Therapy looked into mobile learning for HIV/AIDS healthcare workers training in resource limited settings.

One of the pilot studies conclusions was that overall satisfaction of using mobile tools on the iPhone was greater than the Nokia N95.

Study participants cited screen/keyboard size, and image quality as problematic on the Nokia N95 when compared to the iPhone.

Overall, both mobile phones were found to be effective in delivering educational content to mobile health care workers. Of note, Facebook and Skype were used in conjunction with the learning modules. These social tools were used to put physicians in contact with experts or support staff knowledgeable about the particular learning module being used.

How the study worked:

Twenty physicians were given smart phones with portable solar chargers in Peru – half were given iPhones, and the other half Nokia N95s. Learning modules were placed onto the phones for a continuing medical education program lasting 3 months. Study participants had access to wireless internet via DSL or cable modems located at the HIV/AIDS clinics. At the end of each module learning outcomes were quantified using mobile quizzes.


The results showed overall satisfaction of using the mobile tools on the iPhone was greater than the Nokia N95. Using social media tools, such as Facebook and Skype, was easier on the iPhone than the Nokia N95. 66.7% of of iPhone users found it easy to access Skype, verse 22.2% of Nokia users. 88.9% of iPhone users found it easy to access Facebook, verse 44.4% of Nokia N95 users. Ability to access podcasts and post module learning quizzes was virtually even with both phones.

What can be taken away from this study:

The main take way from this pilot study is that with proper implementation, mobile learning in the field can be achieved by current smart phones available in the market.  Parsing through this study, one of the subtle take away points is how the use of current social tools can be used for mobile learning – such as Facebook and Skype. There is not necessarily a need to create new paradigms for mobile learning tools, rather, existing ones can be used but for medical education instead.

It should be noted this was a pilot study, and the authors themselves have stated the results are not necessarily generalizable – more participants and further analysis are needed.  So in order to conclusively say the iPhone is easier to use than the Nokia N95 for mobile learning, more data is needed.

Source: Mobile Learning for HIV/AIDS healthcare worker training in resource-limited settings (Authors: Zolfo M, Iglesias D, Kiyan C, et al.)