Tropical Medicine Open Learning Environment

Tropical Medicine Open Learning Environment

Geraldine Clarebout (University of Leuven, Belgium), Jan Elen (University of Leuven, Belgium), Joost Lowyck (University of Leuven, Belgium), Jef Van den Ende (Institute for Tropical Medicine, Belgium) and Erwin Van den Enden (Institute for Tropical Medicine, Belgium)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch318
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Educational goals have generally shifted from knowing everything in a specific domain to knowing how to deal with complex problems. Reasoning and information- processing skills have become more important than the sheer amount of information memorized. In medical education, the same evolution has occurred. Diagnostic reasoning processes get more strongly emphasized. Whereas previously knowing all symptoms and diseases was stressed, reasoning skills have now become educationally more important. They must enable professionals to distinguish between differential diagnoses and to recognize patterns of illnesses (e.g., Myers & Dorsey, 1994).
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Authentic or realistic tasks have been advocated to foster the acquisition of complex problem-solving processes (Jacobson & Spiro, 1995; Jonassen, 1997). In medical education, this has led to the use of expert systems. Such systems were initially developed to assist practitioners in their practice (NEOMYCIN, in Cormie, 1988; PATHMASTER in Frohlich, Miller & Morrow, 1990; LIED in Console, Molino, Ripa di Meana & Torasso, 1992) and simulate real situations. These systems were expected to provoke or develop students’ diagnostic reasoning processes. However, the implementation of such expert systems in regular educational settings has not been successful. Instead of developing reasoning processes, these systems assume them to be available. They focus on quickly getting to a solution rather than reflecting on possible alternatives. Consequently, it was concluded that students need more guidance in the development of diagnostic reasoning skills (Console et al., 1992, Cromie, 1988; Friedman, France & Drossman, 1991), and that instructional support was lacking.

KABISA is one of the computer programs purposely designed to help students in the development of their diagnostic reasoning skills (Van den Ende, Blot, Kesten, Van Gompel & Van den Enden, 1997). It is a dedicated computer-based training program for acquiring and optimizing diagnostic reasoning skills in tropical medicine.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Animated Pedagogical Agents: Animated figures operating in a learning environment and aiming at supporting learners in their learning process and capable of adapting their support to the learners’ paths.

Perceptions: Students’ perceptions relate to how they perceive a specific environment (KABISA). They are the results of an interaction between students’ instructional conceptions and a specific learning environment.

Embedded Support Devices: These are support devices integrated in the learning environment. Learners cannot but use these devices (e.g., structure in a text).

Criterion Path: This a representation of an ‘ideal path’ to go through a specific learning environment. It specifies for each possible step in the program the most ideal subsequent steps.

Instructional Conceptions: These are conceptions about the functionalities (elements) of a learning environment. These conceptions can relate to the effectiveness or efficiency of specific features in a learning environment (e.g., tools) or to the environment as a whole (e.g., KABISA as a learning environment).

Open-Ended Learning Environments: Aim at fostering complex problem-solving skills by confronting learning with a realistic or authentic problem in a learning environment with a large amount of learner control and different tools.

Non-Embedded Support Devices (Tools): These are support devices put to the disposal of learners. Learners decide when and how to use these tools.

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