International Association for Mobile Learning

Key Issue: Risk analysis – the unexpected consequences of complexity and the need to proceed iteratively and flexibly

Scenario: Whoops-a-daisy!

Research question:

How best to deploy an teaching app in nurse education that has been designed to train student nurses in how to take various physiological measurements using the same mobile device as the app runs on?


Nurse trainees are testing an app that runs on a Smartphone that prompts them on the procedure for physiological testing of, say, hearing, heart rate, body temperature, eyesight or sensory perception of themselves and peers before using it with patients. They are expected to demonstrate their learning through presenting back on the procedure and results in a multimedia format.

Questions to be considered:

  • What happens if the physiological measure is found to be out of the ordinary? Will this differ if the measure is more or less vital eg heart rate vs temperature?
  • How to include consideration of such possible outcomes in an informed consent procedure?
  • How to capture images (or even video) for feedback that show the problem yet do not identify or distress the participant?

Other issues that may arise:

If the app is used with real patients they may not recognise the Smartphone as being an official recording device and resent the trainees apparently playing with a phone whilst on duty.

Other similar situations:

Wherever a researcher finds themselves in the possession of information that they hadn’t planned for and can foresee possible detriment to the participants, their work or study, or the institution where the research is taking place if this information is not acted on.

A final thought:

This scenario could be used as a teaching tool where the goal is development of responsible ethical practice through having the students engage in risk analysis which should include the possibility of unintended consequences.