UCLIC Research Seminar Series

SEMINAR 9th Dec: Christoph Pimmer –From cognition to identity development: the multi-faceted affordances of digital media for health professionals
Christoph Pimmer, UCL Institute of Education


SEMINAR 9th Dec: Christoph Pimmer –From cognition to identity development: the multi-faceted affordances of digital media for health professionals


Digital media are increasingly embedded in work, communication and learning practices of health care professionals. Addressing this development, Christoph Pimmer will provide insights into some of his recent work on the affordances and constraints of the use of digital and, in particular, mobile and social mobile media in health settings.

This includes experiences from the design and experimental evaluation of a smartphone-based consultation system for Swiss hospital doctors to examine and contrast the different modes of speech, images and image annotation for knowledge exchange.¹ Arguing that technology should not be conceived as a separate entity, Christoph will also illustrate the ways the ways in which medical actors use and connect speech, bodily movements (e.g., gestures), and the visual and haptic structures of their own bodies and of artefacts, such as technological instruments and computers, to construct complex, multimodal representations.²

The use of digital technologies is not restricted to high income settings but in particular mobile and social media are gaining in popularity in low and middle income countries. Mirroring this dynamic, Christoph will discuss observations from Asian and African contexts, where, for example, tens of thousands of health professionals have appropriated a Facebook site as an informal Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) which harbours rich forms of learning and professional participation;³,⁴ or other studies where rural South African midwives use a range of mobile and social media tools for 'organically-grown', learning and communication practices.⁵


  1. Pimmer C, Mateescu M, Zahn C, Genewein U. Smartphones as multimodal communication devices to facilitate clinical knowledge processes - a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2013;15(11):e263.

  2. Pimmer C, Pachler N, Genewein U. Reframing Clinical Workplace Learning Using the Theory of Distributed Cognition. Academic Medicine. 2013;88(9):1239-1245.

  3. Pimmer C, Linxen S, Gröhbiel U. Facebook as a learning tool? A case study on the appropriation of social network sites along with mobile phones in developing countries. British Journal of Educational Technology. 2012;43(5):726-738.

  4. Pimmer C, Linxen S, Gröhbiel U, Jha A, Burg G. Mobile learning in resource-constrained environments. A case study of medical education. Medical Teacher. 2013;35(5):e1157-e1165.

  5. Pimmer C, Brysiewicz P, Linxen S, Walters F, Chipps J, Gröhbiel U. Informal mobile learning in nurse education and practice in remote areas. A case study from rural South Africa. Nurse Education Today. 2014;34(11):1398-1404.


Christoph Pimmer is currently a visiting researcher at the UCL Institute of Education. In Switzerland he works as senior researcher and lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW. Christoph's interests are centred on the role of digital media for learning and knowledge processes. Most of his academic work has concentrated on the use of mobile and social media with a particular focus on public and global health. His research on learning and communication technologies has been funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI), EU-lifelong learning and various other funding bodies in Switzerland.