Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Everyone who uses a computer learns online. We learn when we Google a topic and sort and read the resulting hits. We gather new information and use it immediately (time of a movie) or reflect on it and weave it into our understanding of a new or familiar theme.

What about using online learning as the primary method for learning about medicine? Can our students, residents and fellows (as well as ourselves) effectively learn what we need to know through online classes? Numerous studies have clearly indicated that some people can learn very effectively online. Other studies indicate that the effectiveness of online learning is dependant on the subject matter, the skill of the teacher to create online learning environments, and the learning style and personal characteristics of the learner.

In response to reduced duty hours, the introduction or expansion of online or distance education classes seems to make good sense. Online CME offerings also become more attractive as travel restrictions due to the lingering recession limit CME choices.

Sometime in the next year someone is going to ask you about online learning. What do you think? Is it ready for PRIME TIME?

Should we forget about lectures and get the very best teachers to create online courses that our students and residents can access day or night?

Are there topics that can not be taught online?

Are there types of learners that you think will have problems with online learning?

If you have taken an online CME course, or taught an online course, what type of experience was it for you? If you have no experience but have an opinion, let us know. Let’s see what the collective wisdom is about integrating online learning into our medical schools and hospitals.



We only received 8 responses to this question, but those who responded had a lot to share. All of the responders recognized that solid remediation takes work; work in planning and work in follow-through. Planning without follow-through is just plain not worth the effort and can leave the resident feeling even more hopeless. A couple of our responders indicated that hardly anyone has the time to do this right. Another thread of the discussion looked at our ability to listen and diagnose problems correctly. As we all know a “prescription” based on a faulty diagnosis is unlikely to be effective. Read the attached article for some ideas on developing good remediation plans.