Last updated: 25.10.11

E-learning 'provides the next step for medical education'

E-learning models could be successfully tailored to the medical industry, according to recent reports.

Educators in Britain have stressed the need for improved learning methods in medical education to keep in line with many other learning environments where online learning has become a core part of curriculums.

At a meeting of lecturers and teachers as part of a two-day workshop at the University of Health Sciences (UHS) recently, many expressed the positivity of e-learning and cited that it is a flexible and easy-to-maintain approach to acquiring new skills.

In a debate focused on the nature of virtual learning systems, the academic experts suggested that it was not just about the content and delivery but also about the ability for users to dip in and out of the learning experience.

Professor Paul Duvall from the University of Liverpool said: "The challenge for medical educators is to be aware of the new changes and to consider how the latest technology can be used to enhance learning."

He added that e-learning could change the nature of adult learning whereby the student becomes part of the educational giving system and is able to self-educate as well as be taught by academics in formal and more structured classroom environments.

Online learning in the medical profession has already been implemented as a standard practice in Pakistan.

Mr Duvall added: "In diverse medical education context, such as in Pakistan, e-learning could prove much effective, as students would not see e-learning as replacing traditional instructor-led training but as a complement to it, forming part of a blended-learning strategy."

Professor Ian Willis of the University of Liverpool's Centre of Life Long Learning supported his colleagues view and suggested that combining traditional face-to-face instruction with web-based learning was best suited for practice-based disciplines like medical sciences.

The University of Liverpool was one of three UK representatives at the UHS held in Pakistan.

Overall opinion at the conference was that those wishing to embrace e-learning must first investigate the options best suited to different branches of the medical profession.

UHS is an internationally recognised student-centred research university with 80 colleges and institutes. The education body houses around 35,000 undergraduate and 4,000 postgraduate students.