Research Issues of User-generated Medical Education Content

Stathis Konstantinidis* Panagiotis D Bamidis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Medical School, Lab of Medical Informatics, Thessaloniki, Greece
Stathis Konstantinidis*, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Medical School, Lab of Medical Informatics, Thessaloniki, Greece
Charalambos Bratsas, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Medical School, Lab of Medical Informatics, Thessaloniki, Greece
Eleni Kaldoudi, Democritus University of Thrace, Medical School, Alexandroupolis, Greece

Track: Research
Presentation Topic: Web 2.0-based medical education and learning
Presentation Type: Oral presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Building: MaRS Centre, 101 College Street, Toronto, Canada
Room: CR2
Date: 2009-09-18 09:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Last modified: 2009-08-13

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Advances in Information Technology have enabled the development of virtual distributed pools of autonomous, self-described specialized educational modules, and the provision of mechanisms for searching, retrieving, evaluating and rating, adapting and revising educational content in medicine and life sciences. To this end, “mashup” and “Web 2.0” technologies have recently been used to implement efficient brokerage mechanisms for educational content sharing, thereby offering new and richer opportunities for health education by allowing open access to information, sharing of ideas, questions and opinions. It is also true that Web2.0 technologies have recently empowered the notion of active and collaborative learning, as well as, problem based learning (PBL). But how effective can the sharing of such content be among medical educators? What are those needs and requirements that the academic community needs to consider before investing further in this delightful new endeavour?
So, the essence of this paper is twofold. First, to introduce a number of actions taking place along these lines in a European best practice network called “mEducator”; secondly, to draft a roadmap towards responding to the above set of questions.

Material and Methods
The “mEducator” project is a recently started EU funded initiative of 14 organisations on an effort to facilitate “best practice” towards the repurposing and sharing of medical educational multi-type content.
Educational content in medicine includes numerous types of learning objects that address both the theoretical as well as the clinical aspects of medical education. Its uniqueness is strengthened by the fact that is produced by academics and clinical teachers, as well as, students, in a variety of places.
An important aspect of mEducator content refers to user-generated content. Its extent and nature varies with the specific content type itself. For example, in typical use of PBL set in a Web2.0-rich environment, the problem/case is set, usually ill-posed by the educator to start with (e.g. in wiki), and questions are raised (in a blog or discussion forum); students/users are then engaged in trying to provide answers to the problem/case questions; it is this user interaction itself that in a way produces and enriches the content. Such content may itself be, if properly described by metadata, utilised as a learning material by the instructors, since it provides hints where possible student misconceptions may lie (the instructor may use this to show to current students what previous cohorts have done in attempting to solve the problem/case or where mistakes/misconceptions occurred, or to reshape the questions or the problem/case). Existing, concrete examples of such user-generated content already available at the mEducator partnership are:
• Web2.0 based PBL • clinical cases on the MEDTING case repository
• Interaction with Virtual Patients on Open Labyrinth
• Cases in the form of e-traces (web traces of anatomical images)
• Interactions with serious medical games (in Second Life or not).
Is there a need to share such artefacts of medical education (user generated) content? The “mEducator” consortium believes there is need to do that. To accomplish this need though, ones has to standardize the sharing of this kind of content. So, in this paper, we present the efforts of the consortium and the associated difficulties to achieve this. In so, doing, a different number of available standards and technologies are visited and discussed.

In this paper we demonstrate the first experiments towards the facilitation of the above effort. Appropriate metadata editors and environments are developed and tested; in parallel, a number of experiments are conducted towards new ideas stemming from the notions of social networking, learning object inheritances and semantics/ontologies.

In the core of research related to user-generated content lies an ensemble of standards, protocols, technologies, as well as, development architectures, communication and sharing tools, and the creation of communities that bring people (medical educators, students, practitioners) together. Are the above mentioned existing ensembles capable of supporting all requirements and resolving all particular issues related to user-generated content? Probably not! For example, it is not well defined how current educational standards and metadata might be applied to describe the educational interaction within a PBL Web2.0 scheme facilitated by blogs, wikis and discussion forums. Thus, the mEducator project has initiated a discussion and a clustering effort with standardization bodies and scientific/professional communities in order to resolve such problems.

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