This chapter will illustrate a combination of problem-based learning (PBL), information and communication technologies (ICT), and leadership in the context of health care education. It is argued that they form a coherent alliance that meets the challenges of education and leadership in health care. The topic and the research questions have emerged from expanding criticism against traditional educational programmes, and our own experiences of the research and development work in the context of problem-based pedagogy and the use of information and communication technologies in Finnish higher education.
This study is positioned in the context of a changing information and network society, where globalization, digitalization, and new sociocultural phenomena co-occur (Castells, 2000). Dispersed teams and organizations, the rich use of information and communication technologies, and a growing demand for pedagogical innovations such as PBL are realizations of this broad process of change.
Problem-based learning has been described as one of the most important pedagogical innovations in higher education in the last few decades. It was thought to have started in the 1960s in medical education in Canada. Since then, it has spread throughout the world in different variations whilst still preserving its foundations (Boud & Feletti, 1997). The context for this research is in Finnish higher education, where PBL was first adopted in medical and physiotherapy education in the 1990s (Poikela & Nummenmaa, 2006).
PBL is a comprehensive approach to learning environments, curriculum, learning, studying, and teaching. It is grounded in experiential, collaborative, contextual, and constructivist theories of learning, and it has a clear point of convergence with informal learning and action processes. PBL aims at the integration of different subjects and branches of knowledge so that it is possible for the student to achieve the necessary professional competence and growth during his or her education (Savin-Baden & Major, 2004).
It has been described as a transformative educational process that aims at student empowerment (see Costello et al., 2002). The role of a traditional teacher is replaced by the role of a tutor and group leader. Group-intensive learning activities utilize taking turns at roles such as discussion leader, recorder, and observer. The action among the group forms joint responsibility. Learning is seen as a participative, creative, collaborative but also individual process (Boud & Feletti, 1997; Poikela & Poikela, 2006a; Savin-Baden, 2000).