Thursday, July 2, 2015

Assessing Faculty and Student Readiness for Online Courses in Undergraduate Medical Education

Gonzalo Mantilla, MD, MEd
Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Background: The dynamic nature of the Internet offers new opportunities for medical learners by presenting several key advantages for the dissemination of medical curriculum online. The Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) has a combined baccalaureate and medical curriculum that have proven to be very demanding in terms of time and effort. Online education has been identified as a valuable tool to deliver part of the curriculum with quick and easy access to quality education.

Objective: Assessing the readiness of faculty and students for online teaching and learning is significant to the success of the program and institution. The purpose of this study was to determine the online readiness of faculty and students at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito for acceptance of alternate teaching modalities.
Methods: This is a mixed method case study that employed both qualitative and quantitative methods. Data were gathered using an online readiness survey of USFQ full-time faculty (10) and students (25), semi-structured interviews with each faculty and a focus group interview with eight students. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the quantitative data and thematic content analysis for the qualitative data.
Results: Several distinct themes emerged regarding the analysis of data on readiness for online medical courses. There was a greater degree of technological readiness in comparison to the level of faculty teaching pedagogy and the level of instructional design knowledge. The faculty showed great concern about the budget and time commitment issues. They also addressed the expected challenges and barriers associated with transferring to an online format, including expectations from the administration. The implications of these results are discussed in the final section of the paper.
Conclusion: The results of this study showed several positive aspects of readiness for online education and provided key information for developing solutions focused on the needs of the faculty members and students for initiating online courses in the undergraduate medical curriculum. We believe that online courses can act as important adjuncts to all the teaching components of the medical undergraduate curriculum. These technologies have the potential to complement traditional medical education.