At all the times healthcare stands as one of the most challenging and pressing sectors of our society. Passed through centuries, wars, incurable diseases, and natural catastrophes, limit of food and water – all these things make us more perceptive to value our life more and give us everyday pressure to think how to improve health sector: to raise the level of our medical knowledge/education, implement innovative materials and technologies, invest in research programs and funds to save one’s life.
Since we have travelled a long way in healing knowledge from experiments and treating with herbs to highly effective medicine till now we continue to search for new methodologies to make the medicine more progressive and effective, to improve patience safety and satisfaction.
Technological and social changes taking place in recent years are affecting the way of presenting and transferring medical knowledge. In the era of IT and high capacity of computers new paradigm has entered in education process- e-learning and its impact becomes more visible and important in the field of medicine.
Nowadays it is hard to imagine healthcare sector without modern information and communication technologies (ICT). Presently, many medical universities and institutions utilize e-learning to make the continuing education process more effective and easy. So, let’s see what the key of E-learning is and what e-learning methods are used in medical education.
E-learning or also called web-based learning, online learning refers to the use of interactive technologies to support and improve teaching and learning process. Historically there were two common e-learning types: distance learning and computer based learning. The first one was used to deliver information to remote locations and the second one uses computers to deliver information. The integrating element of both modes became Internet that implicated multimedia (was one of preceding components before birth of Internet).
E-learning broadly includes different forms/types of delivery of education and teaching components/material to those who connected with this sector on professional or personal level. The delivery of information could be synchronous or asynchronous. It includes a range of technologies from CD-ROM to electronic whiteboards or online simulations. Among popular ones could be mentioned virtual classrooms, audio and video conferencing, digital learning of subjects through digital lectures, digital libraries, animation, textual notes, web based learning platforms, portals, Internet chat forums etc.
Traditionally medical education considers combination of didactic instruction in the classroom with further learning in clinical setting. Later was increased the impact of problem –based learning discussions in order to integrate the science knowledge and clinical decision. E-learning the methods and tools added many dimensions to the educational process and helps to overcome some problems/gaps with traditional education:
– Flexible learning: remote access to digital materials that are unavailable locally, internet access to the didactic material to lectures and other material.
– Possibility of collaboration: it helps teachers and students from different universities, countries, which allow exchange of knowledge and experiences;
– Multimedia helps to transmit training/education video, medical research animation, and simulations of scientific systems;
– 2-D and 3-D computer animation helps in research and educational aims. They help to demonstrate surgery, human anatomy, and more;
– Instant access to Internet help to stay up-to-date with medical knowledge and achievements;
– Reduces travel costs and time;
Thank to grow of Internet and educational technologies the number of e-learning resources available to educators extremely increased. Within medical education established repositories and digital libraries provides access to e-learning materials. There are also multimedia online resources that collect links to online learning materials, along with annotations such as users’ reviews and assignments. In addition there is tendency to implement in educational system online learning management systems that help to track and monitor learners’ knowledge, attitude and skills.
Let’s see what are E-learning programs are used to educate patients (customers) and specialists with the use of IT and Internet. They could be of general assignment or specialized ones. For example there are online resources that help patients to understand their disease process, how to prevent infections, it also helps to get information about different medicine products, or get online consultation from doctors on specialized medicine portals care and therapy programs and nursing ones for future mums and babies, training programs. At professional level simulation software helps doctors to prepare for difficult operations virtually; software for medical image interpretation helps to diagnose diseases and prescribe treatment etc. Besides, with the help of video conferencing software systems doctors can share experience and knowledge and being connected/closer to long-distance, disabled or elderly patients. With the popularity of mobile devices the development of mobile tracking applications that traces human activity, sport applications with training exercises and right nutrition allows to take right health decisions and follow balanced healthy life. Promotional video inspires healthy eating; environmental awareness and fitness as a way of life raise the level of wellness and healthcare beyond kids and adults.
Applying new approaches in healthcare sector may empower people to take greater control of their health by supporting healthy lifestyle, improving health decisions. Better Delivery of information also improves emergency preparedness, quality and efficiency of care. As the result it should be said that e-learning is the most effective tool in case of epidemic break-out or any national emergencies it is the most practical and fastest method of passing information to educate the public.
As the result of our small research we may come to the conclusion that healthcare sector is a fast-growing and its integration with IT brings numerous benefits. The knowledge integrated with advanced information and communications infrastructures call changes in all structural spheres, including healthcare. Besides improvements of medical equipment and solutions it brings possibility to develop social connections and helps to solve environmental problems by changing health habits and decisions (when people begin to think over what products they eat and in what environment they leave their attitude of treating the world changes). It modernizes traditional educational/learning systems of different countries and universities, at different educational levels especially of those where people are geographically dispersed to transmit knowledge, skills and learning/teaching styles. E-learning cultivates culture of innovation and productivity in our lives. And how do you think e-learning could benefit in healthcare?
Thank you for your attention and hope to be useful! 🙂