Blended Learning: An Effective Application to Clinical Teaching

Blended Learning: An Effective Application to Clinical Teaching

Prabal Bhargava
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4080-9.ch018
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Web-based learning has become an integral part of contemporary education. Online educational tools and resources are often utilized to facilitate learning and provide captivating learning environments. Opportunities protracted by technological advancements are infinite and these are finding increasing popularity in current medical education system. In this chapter, a “blended” approach, with apt amalgamation of e-learning and an interactive face-to-face session, was innovatively used by the author to augment clinical skills in the MBBS program for undergraduate medical students. A “flipped session” was developed to teach the clinical examination of the human retina using a “direct ophthalmoscope.” Besides adding value to the curriculum and constructively aligning the assessment to learning, the author capitalized on technology to demonstrate a successful application in the preparation of peak performers for the twenty-first century. This also helped the author evolve as a better medical teacher and create a rewarding Gesamtkuntswerk with the course content.
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Technology-enhanced learning environments play a crucial role in the core structure of the 21st century education system. Past few decades have witnessed revolutionizing advancements in electronic and digital technologies. Medicine being a practice-based discipline is widely taught using traditional methods and it is commonly assumed that it is neither possible nor desirable to fully replace traditional medical education with online learning.

However education today has evolved from a predominantly teacher centered process, where the traditional instructor (teacher) was engrossed in presenting information to the students, to a principally student (learner) centered process where students are able to customize their own learning. Additionally, the student’s role has changed from being a more or less passive receiver to being an active learner and the instructor’s role has transformed to that of a mentor, guiding students to acquire knowledge and improve their learning skills. There has been a shift in the paradigm to a learner-centered approach, presenting robust learning motivation and interactivity. Interaction maintains learner interest and provides a means for personalized learning and reinforcement.

It is also vital to acknowledge the change in the learners of the 21st century. As we gear up to receive the Generation Z in our colleges and universities, it is rudimentary to comprehend their unique characteristics, preferences and dynamics. Generation Z is the demographic cohort described by demographers and researchers as those born between the mid-1990s to early 2000s. There are no exact dates for when the Gen Z cohort starts or ends but this is the cohort that is reaching the universities today. A noteworthy aspect of this generation is the widespread usage of the Internet from a young age; members of Generation Z are typically believed of as being at ease with technology, and web based/ digital interaction for a significant portion of their daily activity. They have been exposed to an unprecedented expanse of technology in their upbringing and that has strongly influenced Generation Z in terms of communication and education. The influence on educational archetype is substantial, with a potential for deeper involvement in learning and more individualized instruction, thereby making this generation potentially better educated and accountable. “Generation Z” is revolutionizing the educational system in many aspects. These learners prefer intrapersonal and independent learning over group work, yet like to do their solo work alongside others in a collective manner when studying. They fancy their learning to be practical and hands-on and want the teachers to help them engage with and apply the content rather than simply share facts and information that are otherwise available online.

The familiarity and dependence, of today’s generation of learners, on technology can be exploited to capture their interest and establish sustained engagement.

Modern day medical education is rapidly evolving and renovating to meet these challenges. Technological advances offer a large armamentarium of educational tools.

The introduction of e-learning tools into medical education has made significant changes in the way medicine is taught. Today it is compulsory for medical students and teachers to have advanced Information Communication Technology skills to enable them to obtain most updated information that shall help build their knowledge and achieve higher goals in learning and practice. Multiple e-learning tools are being designed and developed to compliment customary education strategies, and to provide new methods of learning.

Computer-based learning can be applied in many cutting-edge ways such as simulation and animation applications. Generally used customs include simulated cases or clinical scenarios; simultaneous videoconferencing for small group teaching; clinical training supported by computer simulated programs; telemedicine; web-based teaching tools and virtual reality. Simple applications in the form of data banks, video recordings of lectures, online quizzes and submissions are used widely over many teaching institutions. Human interaction is very crucial and of paramount importance to the learning and practice of medical disciplines. Thus medical students are provided with appropriate training opportunities in the form of real patient encounters in hospital wards/ out-patient departments, observation and practice of clinical procedures (both diagnostic and surgical), radiology image examinations and interpretation, patient medical history review, and other basic medical practices. Technology enhanced learning is an additional aid to provide fillip to the learning experience.

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