Broudo M, Walsh C. MEDICOL: online learning in medicine and dentistry. Acad Med. 2002 Sep;77(9):926-7

PMID: 12228095


Objective: MEDICOL (Medicine and Dentistry Integrated Curriculum Online) provides a variety of Web-based resources that act as important adjuncts to all the teaching components of the medical and dental undergraduate curriculum. It uses WebCT, a course-management system, to provide the following educational functions: (1) track students' progress and present course information such as time-tables, learning objectives, handout materials, images, references, course assignments, and evaluations; (2) promote student-to-student and student-to-instructor interactions (through e-mail and bulletin boards); and (3) deliver self-directed learning components, including weekly self-assessment quizzes that provide immediate feedback and multimedia learning modules (clinical skills, radiology, evidence-based medicine, etc.).

Description: The University of British Columbia Faculties of Medicine and Dentistry feature a problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum in which students access many of the same tools they will utilize in their professional practice. In the PBL curriculum, students must access the relevant clinical data and educational resources. A MEDICOL site has also been developed for medical students to use during their rural family practice, a four- to six-week experience in the summer after their second year. This site has been designed to be a supplemental learning environment for not only these students, but also for their physician preceptors. It is intended to foster communication among participants, bring new resources to the rural setting, and allow preceptors to develop their Internet skills with the help of students who are already familiar with the electronic environment. The MEDICOL sites enable the exchange of information about the learning issues between, as well as within, tutorial groups. MEDICOL also provides students with faculty-reviewed resources that are listed online; multimedia presentations; and access to histology, radiology, and pathology images through an online image database. Each week, students have access to a new interactive and automatically graded self-assessment quiz for individual study. These quizzes test learning objectives from tutorial, lecture, and lab material for each week of the curriculum and are modeled after summative examinations held twice each year. Question authors provide immediately accessible quality feedback to students. A comprehensive quiz databank of approximately 1,500 questions has been attained. WebCT enables MEDICOL to deliver anonymous, online program-evaluation questionnaires during clinical clerkships (resulting in a 99% response rate after a few e-mail reminders), with easy and timely data collection and reporting methods. Summative assessments have also been delivered through MEDICOL.

Discussion: Use statistics indicate that over 90% of students regularly use the MEDICOL sites and have found them helpful. University of British Columbia medical school enrollment will increase because of collaborations with campuses and medical centers across the province. MEDICOL will likely play an increased role in distance learning by continuing to deliver the resources already described, as well as facilitating synchronous communications (e.g., PBL chat rooms) and teaching (e.g., video-streamed lectures) to students located across the province.