Background In 2008, the totally-online Grad Cert PRheum was created because many thousands of children with rheumatological disorders, particularly in developing countries, have little access to appropriate medical expertise. The course embraces new technologies to be accessible, affordable, incorporating accepted principles of quality pedagogy with 1 year part-time study in student’s home country whilst fully employed. The purpose was to mitigate burden of disease. To date 29 fellows (15 countries) have graduated.
Objectives (A)To present details for peer review (B)To evaluate course process and outcomes.
Methods (A) Details of course: E-learning encompasses 2 perspectives: (i) digital content, (ii) digital process. Herein both content and process are important with the latter having greater focus i.e. “doing stuff” rather than “accessing stuff”1. (i) Digital content in e-learning environments takes many forms. Herein content includes lecture notes, videos (streaming, downloading), podcasts, e-library, e-journals, research papers, protocols. The current learning management system (LMS) is MOODLE, WebCt being superseded. (ii) Digital process herein aims at engagement and interactivity. It includes real clinical problems with ample images for discussion, assignments on seminal articles “published” for all, xray discussions, self-quizzes etc. Marks for tasks are only pass/fail to prevent interference with the pedagogical approach, which emphasizes higher order learning (strategic thinking, interpretative skills, problem solving, plan formulation etc). The course aspires to be flexible in time place and pace, engaging, learner-centred and interactive1. It is designed on adult learning theory: adults learn by relating learning to past experiences, linking learning to specific needs and applying it in a practical sense1. Students come with a clinical background and a need to understand more about paediatric rheumatological disorders. Hence the learning environment provided is ideal for adult learning.(B) Evaluating course process and outcomes2: Course process: (i) Strengths include flexibility of time, place, pace; ease of updating materials; provision of a community of e-learners and networks; self-directed learner-centred education; ease of access to information; inbuilt peer review; encouragement of higher learning. (ii) Weaknesses include tutor labour intensity in discussion facilitation, inability of previous LMS to allow students to truly work at own pace whilst maintaining interactions, difficulty in keeping less committed students continually engaged, sporadic technical difficulties of software and hardware. Course outcomes: Student satisfaction has been generally very good. Evaluation of changes in learners’ knowledge, skills and attitudes is difficult to assess and costly. Course retention has been excellent. Many students have recommended other students to join the course. Many have arranged clinical attachments in PRheum this being the ideal and desired outcome. Course numbers grow.
Results Course details are presented. Evaluation defines problems and advantages as listed with overall numbers increasing whilst the course is continually refined and developed. The course earned “Excellence in Teaching Innovation” UWA and attracted a National Citation.
Conclusions Medical e-learning is certain to become mainstream in the future. The Grad Cert PRheum sits comfortably in this paradigm.
Ellaway Masters 2008;2.Ruiz Mintser Leipzig 2006
Disclosure of Interest None Declared