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Resources In Support Of Problem-based Learning

Alison Howarth, Medical Computer Clusters, University of Glasgow.

The Medical School at the University of Glasgow has recently introduced a new undergraduate MBChB Curriculum that is student-centred and fully co-ordinates across the medical disciplines. The essential ethos of the Curriculum is to encourage independent learning; problem-based learning supported by learning resources is used extensively. The benefits of using computers and IT in learning are already recognised within the two years of the curriculum that are already running.

In the later years of the course, the students will be distributed across as many as 19 hospitals in the West of Scotland and the Medical School wishes to undertake a program that will enable Distance Learning to support the students.


We would recommend this practical hands-on experience as a way of demonstrating new technologies to members of staff interested in using them. People then have a much better 'feel' for the technology and the way it can be used.

Another recommendation is to have, as a member of the demonstration, an 'expert' in the field. We were fortunate to have the expertise of Charles Hunter at Paisley University who runs their Videoconferencing Facilities – not only in helping to set up the videoconference, but also in contributing to the discussions that took place during the session.

A drawback to the fully successful implementation of this project may be the differing levels of hardware/networks that will be used. Some of the sites will have access to Janet and the high speed network, whereas some of the outlying hospitals may have to use ISDN. Hence the delivery of the product, i.e. the videoconference, will slightly differ for the students.

After consultations with LTDI, the specific aims of the project were refined to be:-

With the support of LTDI, a 3-site videoconference - Glasgow, Paisley and Strathclyde - was set up and members of staff who are directly involved with the development of the 4th and 5th years of the Curriculum were invited to participate. A program was drawn up that ensured that each site ‘ran’ a part of the program, so that the curriculum developers could see and participate in as many aspects of videoconferencing as possible.

The videoconference was well received by the members of staff present. They will now evaluate and review the videoconference and discuss if/how this medium could best be applied to support the learning in the later years of the new curriculum.

We would anticipate doing a similar demonstration with other new technologies in the future, e.g. text-based computer conferencing.


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