1 Democritus University of Thrace (GREECE)
2 Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (GREECE)
3 Department of Computer Science, University of Cyprus (CYPRUS)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 5129-5139
ISBN: 978-84-612-7578-6
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
The current enormous expansion in knowledge relevant to the medical practice constitutes a fundamental challenge to the educational mission of medical faculties. Medical academic institutions spread throughout Europe are increasingly required to invest in order to enrich their curricula with courses given by external experts, while experts working within an academic institution often restrict their state-of-the-art knowledge to a very limited audience.

In order to support the emerging integrative curricula structures and accommodate the over-specialized knowledge available by different experts, information technology can be employed to develop virtual distributed pools of autonomous specialized educational modules and provide the mechanisms for searching, retrieving, evaluating and rating, adapting and revising educational content in medicine and life sciences.

This paper presents the scope, the concept and initial work of the mEducator consortium, which aims to enable seamless content sharing in medical formal education. The mEducator consortium consists of 14 partners from 10 EU countries, and currently is under final negotiations to receive an eContePlus2009 EU grant. The aim of the project is to elaborate on pedagogical, technical, standardization, cultural, social and legal issues towards a standard-based infrastructure that enables the sharing of state-of-the-art digital medical educational content among medical educators and students in European higher academic institutions. Results and best practices as developed by this best practice network are expected to be readily transferable to scientific areas other than medicine.

Specifically, mEducator addresses a comprehensive collection of different types of health educational material. These include conventional educational content types also used in other areas (e.g. lecture notes, books, exam questions, practicals, graphs, images/videos, algorithms and simulators, etc), educational content types unique in medical education (e.g. teaching files, virtual patients, evidence based medicine forms, clinical guidelines, anatomical atlases, etc,) and alternative educational content types, either reflecting active learning techniques (extensively used in health education) and/or stemming from newly introduced web 2.0 technologies (e.g. problem/case based learning sessions, serious games, web traces, wikis, blogs/discussion forums, etc).

mEducator aims to examine to what extend existing standards for the description of educational material can address all these types of health educational material, and make respective recommendations for standards extensions. Additionally, mEducator focuses on implementing and comparing two alternative solutions for educational content discovery and retrieval on the web. The first solution is based on traditional isolated learning content management systems (LCMS), loosely associated via commonplace web 2.0 technologies, using RSS feeds for notification and updates of newly published content. The second solution is based on a federated architecture which is founded on a reference Semantic Web Service (SWS) architecture for search, interchange and delivery of learning objects.

The explosion of web-based educational initiatives have enabled online education and e-learning. Collaboration and content sharing in medical education will inevitably alter the overall process of developing and preparing courses and curricula.
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