MANAGEMENT OF THE PRACTICUM COURSE WITHIN AN ON-LINE HEALTHCARE VISION SCIENCE MASTER
New degrees within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) should be based on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), with the aim of developing more integrated learning activities. The ICT use allows student accessibility and promotes a more active student based learning, in order to obtain a higher number of developed skills during the degree. Thus, we consider mandatory the incorporation of ICTs, like Learning Management Systems (LMS), as an innovative learning tool, to manage on-line University degrees.
The University of Valladolid through Instituto de Oftalmobiología Aplicada (IOBA), has created a new postgraduate Vision Science program related to visual rehabilitation. This new master degree includes a practicum to be performed in different clinical centres located throughout the country, where the student must apply the theoretical knowledge previously acquired. The use of a LMS platform has allowed a higher quality management of the course. Because it has facilitated the communication among clinical teachers, lectures and students, thus following the standard practicum outline easier. All the students, regardless of where they performed their practicum, acquired the same skill levels and also were equally evaluated. Furthermore, students could effortlessly share their opinions and queries, not only with their direct clinical tutor, but also with the general clinical supervisor and the rest of the students, who could be located in a different University. Therefore, feedback from clinical teachers and students was much quicker than using conventional tools (email, telephone) resulting in a rapid increase of the learning process quality.
The use of ICTs throughout the daily management of University degrees having practicum courses, on one hand, will allow students to play a more active role within the learning process; on the other hand, it will also facilitate a higher number of professionals to perform lifelong learning, which is a recognised essential element of the EHEA.