Saturday, May 9, 2009

Do our medical schools need to adopt new education technology?

A recent article in Campus Technology by Trent Batson "Horns of the Dilemma for Faculty: Legacy Demands and Technology Expectations" discusses how universities have failed to change while educators have adopted all the web 2.0 technologies at home. Also there is this terrific presentation.

How does this apply to medical education? Is it important to adopt new technology for teaching our medical students? I love technology but I find myself thinking that the battle we need to fight is to make medical school education more student centered and not necessarily the immediate adoption of new technology.

Going from lectures to problem based learning is more important than changing the old chalkboards to electronic whiteboards! Getting our medical schools to move from grades to portfolios would be worthwhile cause to fight for but Portfolios can be done on paper. Students can use a paper textbook, they don't have to start medical school with a Kindle DX loaded with all their textbooks. Students can go to a "real" classroom as long as the "teacher" promotes active collaorative learning, they don't need the presentations loaded on their iPod or a virtual classroom.

Once we get our faculty to adopt a more collaborative and active learning approach, the adoption of the appropriate technology will follow. Technologies will be superseeded by newer ones, but the key principles of education should be more enduring. The current web 2.0 applications seem to be designed perfectly for collaborative learning and it would be great to integrate these into our curriculum delivery and assessments as we make adopt a more constructivist approach to medical education. But if I were to have one or the other, it would have to be the collaborative learning approach and not the technology! It does not have to be a dilema.