“Smartphone as an educational tool” the perception of dental faculty members of all the dental colleges of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - Pakistan - BMC Medical Education

[BMC Medical Education] “Smartphone as an educational tool” the perception of dental faculty members of all the dental colleges of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - Pakistan - BMC Medical Education

The Dental faculty members of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa generally had a positive perception of using a smartphone as an educational tool. With the majority of the teachers opting for strongly agree and agree options. There was also consensus regarding easier access to information including courses and learning material, and improved communication between the teachers and students. Furthermore, the results showed us that social media has a very good impact on students regarding keeping them updated about courses and information. This is also cemented by the fact that different brochures are shared online via social media platforms these days and usually students get updates from there. Another growing advantage is of smartphone is the memory. The manufacturers have achieved to put really large memories in smartphones which help the students to save all the information on their smartphones. So the information is readily avaible on their fingerprints. Besides all these advantages that the faculty agreed upon there is another one in the form of language and grammar. There are inbuilt dictionaries and assistive writing softwares in the smartphones that help the students in increasing their vocabulary and enchance their literacy skills.

On the contrary, faculty members were not agreeable regarding the shooting of videos during the lectures for the students who missed the lectures for one reason or another.

There was a significant difference among the different departments of dental program. Some basic sciences departments are not very fond of students utilizing their smartphones during their lectures. They were of the view that conventional lecture was the only way to teach their subject.

Our results are similar to the results of the study conducted by Jabali et al., they investigated the use of smartphones by faculty and using smartphone as a teaching tool in two universities of Palestine [4]. We had eleven dental colleges in our study whereas they only did the study only in two universities. Their sample size was also less as compared to ours, but they used the same questionnaire.

Four of the faculty members reported that they didn’t use a smartphone. This is a very small number, but we need to make sure that both our faculty and students have adequate computer literacy. This was shown in a study conducted in Sweden in 2005 which assessed computer literacy among dental educators and students. They concluded that there was a significant difference found between the competence measured and the year of graduation of the dental educator’s group. However, regardless of the competence the attitudes of the educators regarding the use of information and computer technology were very positive, regardless of their competence, year of graduation or academic position [15]. This is also in line with our study. Most of the attitude of our dental faculty regarding using smartphone and internet for accessing information is positive. Similarly, computer literacy courses should be introduced for both faculty and students in the colleges for them to learn and have a basic idea about using technology to enhance their teaching and learning skills.

In another study, Maureen McAndrew explored the use of social media in Dental education. He concluded that most of the students are millennials and are very fond and avid users of social media, they often reside to these websites for their knowledge and collaboration tools. Dental educators should look into a proper way of integrating these technologies into the dental education, which will bear many fruits [16]. The dental faculty of Khyber Pakhtunkwa also agreed that smartphones enable students to get up-to-date knowledge from social media apps. In another study in Australia, it was concluded that students use a smartphone and social media for their educational activities even though it was not formally introduced as teaching tool in the curriculum.(1) This gives us an idea that the dental faculty of KPK should start working on introducing the smartphone as a teaching tool and prepare some groundwork so that dental education in KPK doesn’t lag behind the rest of the world.

In a study conducted in Saudi Arabia in 2016, Researches concluded smartphones is being used by students and doctors for communication and sharing of knowledge regarding patients but many of them are using without any proper security feature and this can lead to dreadful consequences it the patient confidentiality is breached. In this regard there must be policies and security measures introduced in order to utilize this growing technology safely into the health care sector [17]. This is inline in our studies that teachers are of the view that smartphone is a useful tool but its use should be monitered carefully while implementing it into our healthcare and educational sector.

There are obviously too many barriers to implementing such technology in our society. Not all students can afford a high-end smartphone. And not all colleges are equipped with a high-speed internet facility. So, we need to make some changes in our curriculum to implement these new tools and inclusivity. Given that our faculty members have positive attitudes and they themselves use the smartphones quite frequency for study purpose. We don’t have the attitude problem at least in the dental faculty of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

A study conducted by Balan Rathakrishnan in 2021 highlighted the importace of smartphone addiction and quality sleep in university students and its effects on the academic performance. He concluded that poor performance in academics was related to smartphone addiction and poor quality of sleep and such issues must be addressed as we begin to integrate smartphones into our educational setups [18]. Beside these there are many disadvantages highlighted by the literature which include but not limited to addiction to smartphones, distractions they can cause while using them in the class, the constant and up to date notifications can split a student’s attention quite quickly and distract from what they were aiming to learn. Even while using the smartphone notifications from friends can distract the student to avoid or ignore the work at hand and go on to chat with their friends [19].

Strengths and weaknesses of the study

The sample size of the study was large enough to represent the whole dental faculty of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

This study presents an opportunity for all the dental colleges to introduce courses on implementing newer technologies into their teaching and learning strategies.

This study can help push the college administrations to upgrade their facility with the latest hardware to support using smartphones as a teaching tool mainly providing high-speed internet access on the campus. Which is also now a mandatory option by the Pakistan Medical Commission.

The limitations include that this study was conducted on the faculty of dental colleges. Whereas major decisions about policymaking takes place by the administrative staff of the colleges. The faculty only gives their input, but the main decision is of the administration. Maybe research into the administrations of dental colleges will yield the answers of why we cannot formally introduce courses in which we rely on technology.