Technological and Ethical Challenges of Online Education: Adapting Medical Education to Digital Platforms

Technological and Ethical Challenges of Online Education: Adapting Medical Education to Digital Platforms

Lauren Haar (Loyola University Chicago, USA) and Simon Kaja (Loyola University Chicago, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6289-4.ch011

Abstract

The impact of technology can be felt throughout the medical education continuum. From online learning environments in blended learning approaches to exclusively providing the preclinical curriculum online, there is a growing need to optimize the way that technology supports self-directed learning in the next generation of medical professionals. In this chapter, the authors address issues of best practice surrounding the development of virtual content for medical education. The information presented will be integral for medical education professionals, basic science/clinical faculty, and educational assessment specialists with an interest in the use of technology for contemporary medical education. The goal is to offer an overview of the theory and ethics behind adopting an online strategy for medical education. An emphasis is placed on developing best practices for presenting content, a comparison of blended and online-only approaches, and the ethical considerations necessary for the successful training of medical professionals online.
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Defining Best Practices In Medical Education

The increase in OLEs and online education has emphasized a need for devising novel metrics for learning outcomes and assessing whether the inclusion of OLEs and online classes, in fact, increases student achievements. Existing efforts have often been strongly biased by individuals’ preconceptions on the effectiveness of OLEs. For example, in a study surveying the opinions of almost 3,000 chief academic officers of colleges, there was a strong positive association between the belief that students learn more in online classes and the extent of which the college was committed to online learning (Allen & Seaman, 2013).

Some of the earliest research on the topic of distance learning pointed out the challenges of accurately assessing educational outcomes. While most studies utilize three metrics to assess effectiveness, i.e. student grades, attitudes and overall student satisfaction, it is important to be aware of the inherent shortcomings of such research (Phipps & Merisotis, 1999; Moore & Thompson, 1990; Ni, 2013). Weak experimental designs, inappropriate statistics, lack of randomization, and an ensuing inability to distinguish cause and effect remain flaws of many studies that have been published on the assessment of online learning effectiveness (Phipps and Merisotis, 1999; McWilliam & Lee, 2006; Ni, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Best Practices: Procedures that have been shown by research and experience to produce optimal results and that are established or proposed as a standard suitable for widespread adoption.

Blended Learning: A pedagogical/andragogical approach that refers to the combination of traditional and online learning approaches.

Problem-Based Learning: A learner-centered approach in which learners study a subject by working in groups to solve an open-ended problem.

Andragogy: The method and practice of teaching adult learners.

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)/Online Learning Environment (OLE): A digital platform for online learning often used in blended-learning approaches.

Self-Directed Learning: Self-directed learning is an instructional strategy that places the responsibility for the learning progress on the learner.

Online Microenvironments: The unique assembly of interactions that take place between course participants, or with course resources and tools, built in the virtual learning environment.

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