Managing "Bring Your Own Device" for practice assessment in medical education

This is the first in a series of top tips for educators looking to assess students in challenging environments. We explore the pitfalls and challenges of the so-called "BYOD" (bring your own device) model.

It sounds like a great idea – use smartphones and tablets for work based assessment of clinical skills. Support new initiatives around EPAs and competency assessment using this new technology. By downloading assessments to work offline on a mobile device it is possible to avoid the complexity and challenges of online connectivity in a busy clinical environment whilst utilising the tremendous power, convenience and flexibility of mobile devices. Student assessment activity can be later uploaded and resynchronised when convenient.

But how do you manage the diverse array of mobile devices available particularly if you want to support BYOD (bring your own device) both to keep costs down and also to support personal choice of device? Here are just a few of the challenges…

  1. Logistics of App upgrades. Once a new version of an App hits the App store, then there is little client control over when individual users choose to upgrade their mobile App.
    Tip: make sure new Apps always support the previous older version of web applications to enable planned orderly transitions by clients. Also provide support for client branded Apps in App store to enable clients to have more control on scheduling of App upgrades.
  2. Logistics of Mobile OS Upgrades: Clients have little or no control over when an individual user chooses to upgrade their mobile operating system. Apple particularly sends regular notices to its mobile device users to continually upgrade to the latest version. This places great strain on the potential diversity of versions of operating system that need to be supported including the very latest versions.
    Tip: Track and report within tour application on the version of operating systems used to enable identification of “rogue” versions that do not fully conform to your current standard requirements, and help identify where a user has not upgraded their mobile device operating system for some considerable time.
  3. Users who “forget” to update their application mobile App. In addition to updating the operating system, some users may neglect to take an upgrade to the app in the Appstore, even though they receive a notification that an upgrade is available. This can lead to users not using the current version of your mobile application.
    Tip: Within the application, track the version of a user’s App that they are using to identify those users who have not upgraded to new version. Provide a report to your support team that shows this information so that delinquent users can be chased to upgrade their mobile App.
  4. Encountering very poor quality and ineffective devices. We have found that some devices have unusual, vendor-modified operating systems (for example “customised” versions of Android) which can cause problems. And some devices just do not have enough RAM or other resources to be effective (This is sometimes but not always the case with very low cost devices).
    Tip: Maintain a log of poor quality or low-spec devices and provide your users with guidance on those Android devices that are recommended and also provide your users with guidance on minimum technical specifications.

MyKnowledgeMap have over 10 years experience of providing advanced solutions using mobile devices for practice assessment. Starting with the ALPS (Assessment of Learning in Practice Settings) project in 2007 with a consortium of UK universities, this project won a string of prestigious awards for its innovation including the IMS Learning Impact Gold Award. The Myprogress product developed from this early work and is now widely used in many well known medical schools worldwide. The Myprogress User Group now guides the ongoing development of this important solution for medical and healthcare education.

Supporting BYOD policies and practical implementation of BYOD is an area where we have great experience, and we have evolved the Myprogress application to provide specific practical support for BYOD implementation. For more detail contact us here.