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ENHANCING MEDICAL CURRICULA VIA ONLINE PROBLEM BASED LEARNING – EXPERIENCES USING WEB 2.0 TECHNOLOGIES

P. Bamidis1, S. Konstantinidis1, C. Bratsas1, E. Kaldoudi2

1Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (GREECE)
2Democritus University of Thrace (GREECE)
During the last few decades, medical education is shifting is increasingly embracing active learning approaches. This shift from teaching to learning is also strongly related to an involvement of information and communication technology, and especially the Internet and the Web. The emergence of Web 2.0 is indeed being stressed as a promising tool for advanced support of medicine and medical education. Although Web 2.0 emphasizes on participation, in its early days is still used in the majority of cases to hold and provide content (albeit created dynamically and via peer participation and collaboration) and then systematically deliver it to students.

In this paper, we propose the use of wikis and blogs not just for creation and promotion of information, but as active tools to support problem based learning in medicine, while creating new knowledge and new educational experiences. The approach is based on a blended learning scheme, where e-learning is actually complimentary to traditional classes (lectures, demos and labs), and it utilises the SCORM standard within an open source learning environment (Moodle).

Specific objectives of this work include: (a) deploy problem-based sessions in virtual teams, where both students and instructors may be located in remote institutions; (b) provide tools for student inquiry and collaboration; and (c) provide mechanisms for continuous monitoring and evaluation, that would address direct knowledge, as well as tacit competencies targeted via PBL.

Our approach combines collaborative tools such as wikis, blogs and forums in order to provide problem based learning solely on the web. In these PBL sessions, instruction is performed by an interdisciplinary team of experts from remote institutions, while the group of learners can be students from the same or different institutions within the consortium. Instructors collaboratively develop a problem in a wiki. Discussion is initiated via a problem’s blog or forum, where students and instructors collaborate to analyse the problem, identify conquered knowledge and plan actions for problem solving. Then students search (via the web and not only) and collaborate to solve the case via the wiki. Student activities, progress and more importantly gained experience and competences are recorded, shared and commended on via their personal blogs. The entire learning episode and all its steps (with the final problem/answer deployment) are recorded, commended on and monitored via the wiki (final and intermediate versions) and the participants’ blogs.

Evaluation via anonymous student questionnaires emphasising on the use of Web 2.0 tools indicates that students were quite satisfied by this approach, and were happy with the collaboration opportunities offered to them. Most of them admitted that they were tempted to “read what others have contributed in their own personal blogs”. In addition, they believed that they found the student collaboration opportunities offered by the system tools quite useful and enhancing the overall learning process.

Evaluation results indicates that Web 2.0 technologies have a major role to play within the educational arena. Work in progress elaborates on mechanisms to process and analyze the learning process as recorded in personal blogs of our approach so as to extract meaningful information about capturing expert’s practical skills and monitoring learner’s progress in learning.