By Janet Corral, Helen Macfarlane and Michele Doucette
Mobile or web-based apps hold much promise for health professions
education. However, faculty are often surprised at how many considerations are
involved with being successful at adopting an app and integrating it into
As you review and select an app, consider the following:
and security appropriateness for health professions contexts (HIPAA and FERPA).
If used in clinical settings or if the app has learner data, the app must be
reviewed for HIPAA and FERPA compliance.
Office of Information Technology will review and approve apps. You can submit a
request through the OIT Help Desk at 303-724-4357.
- If you
will be keeping medical student data, you will also need to complete the
Student Data Warehouse Confidential Data record. Contact Helen Macfarlane.
with the learning management system (LMS).
- Does the
University of Colorado already host or have access to an app that does what you
need? Contact Academic Technologies, CU Online help desk or instructional
designers in your program.
- Is it
free? Often if an app is free, you (and your data) are the product the app may
sell to other parties.
- Is there
a long-term cost? Consider the time and resources you will need to sustain
interest in the app, to adapt it to a changing curriculum and to optimize its
use in student or resident instruction. Be sure you have the funds to cover the
app’s use over multiple years. Innovations in education often take several
years before their use is “easy” for the faculty and for the learners.
centrally supported LMS on campus is Instructure Canvas. Canvas was designed
for integration, allowing you to add apps to your existing digital curriculum.
You can see a number of apps ready for integration with Canvas.
- If you
are looking for an app for an MD course, Michele Doucette, assistant dean of The Office of Integrated Curriculum, and Helen Macfarlane, director of The Office of Educational
Technology, would be pleased to assist with a review of apps, plan electronic
integration with Canvas, and design curricular integration with existing MD
- Give IT
4-8 weeks to adopt and integrate a new tool. Longer timelines may be needed if
the tool needs to be reviewed for security compliance or purchased for
the effectiveness of the app in education may require IRB approval prior to
using the app with learners.
Assessing an App’s Educational Value
To date, there are no peer-reviewed lists of apps for health
professions education. Many sites exist that provide single-person reviews of
the utility of an app to a specific career or learning objective. These reviews
should always be taken in conjunction with the considerations listed above so
that faculty are compliant with HIPAA and FERPA concerns.