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Tablet technology in medical education in South Africa: a mixed methods study
  1. L Lazarus1,
  2. R Sookrajh2,
  3. K S Satyapal1
  1. 1Department of Clinical Anatomy, School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
  2. 2Department of Curriculum Studies, School of Education, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Professor K S Satyapal; satyapalk{at}, nerissa.naidoo17{at}


Objective The purpose of this study was to establish the use of mobile devices by learners at a selected medical school. Distribution of mobile devices was an inaugural initiative implemented by our college.

Design A mixed methodology design using a questionnaire comprising both open-ended and close-ended questions was analysed from 179 (60 male; 119 female) second year medical students registered for the Anatomy course. Open-ended questions were analysed using a thematic approach by identifying emergent ideas and concepts. Close-ended questions were analysed using SPSS V.21.0.

Setting and participants Second year medical students at a medical school in South Africa.

Results Three main themes emerged, namely, (a) mobile device engagement, (b) advantages and (c) challenges affecting use of mobile devices. A majority of learners accessed their tablets for lecture notes; more females were inclined to access these devices than males. Challenges experienced included poor wifi connectivity on and off the university campus; some students were not keen on the idea of mobile devices and preferred traditional methods of teaching.

Conclusions Mobile devices have been adopted by learners at our university. Uses of technology outlined are related to Eraut's intentions of informal learning. Integrating tablets into classes had a positive effect on student access to course material.

  • communication
  • tablet
  • biotechnology & bioinformatics
  • basic sciences
  • medical education & training
  • electronic devices

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors LL: collection, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting the article and final approval of the version to be published. RS: analysis and thematic development, revising the article and final approval of the version to be published. KSS: revising the article and final approval of the version to be published.

  • Funding This work was supported by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, College of Health Sciences PhD Scholarship.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was obtained from the Biomedical Research and Ethics Committee of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (ethics number BE386/15).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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