Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Is the Textbook dead? – Examining the Technologies Used by Medical Students to Learn

Adrian Gooi, MD, MEd
University of Manitoba

Statement of the Problem: What resources do medical students currently use to learn? Medical education has evolved, and will continue to evolve, as new technologies have emerged. Boulos and Wheeler (2007) describe the development of the Web 2.0 as a more interactive and collaborative form of medical education and resources, compared to Web 1.0. These Web 2.0 modalities include wikis, blogs, podcasts, and social networks. Along with the development of how information is organized on-line, there has also been an evolution of how people are accessing this information. The use of desktop computers has given way to more portable laptop computers, including the increasing use of laptop computers in the classroom (Rush, 2008). The access to electronic medical resources has become even more mobile with the development of personal digital assistants (PDAs), smartphones, and tablet computing (Garritty & El Emam, 2006). This mixed-methods project aims to explore what resources and technologies medical students are currently using to learn compared to what technologies instructors are using to teach.

Hypothesis: The primary hypothesis of the study is that medical student use of technologies for learning will be greater than instructor capability for using technology for teaching. A secondary hypothesis is that more junior medical students will have greater use of technology than more senior medical students.

Significance of the Problem: Should a disconnect be found between how students are learning and how instructors are teaching, resources should be augmented to increase the use of technology in the medical curriculum. This may include increased funds for Information Technology support or for faculty development programs for using technologies. If, on the other hand, no disconnect is detected – that is, if students are increasingly using available technology, and faculty are making decisions about employing additional technology – then this study should encourage faculty to increase their use of technological innovations in their curricula.