To 2.0 or to 3.0 ? Contemporary Challenges for Medical Education from the MEducator Project

Panagiotis D Bamidis* 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
Alvaro Salva Lezaun, MEDITNG, Mallorca, Spain
Francisco Grau Castilla, MEDTING, Mallorca, Spain
Stefan Dietze, Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
Daniela Giordano, University of Catania, Catania, Italy
Chara Balasubramaniam, St Georges Medical School, University of London, London, United Kingdom
Eleni Kaldoudi, Democritus University of Thrace, Alexandroupolis, Greece
Maria Nikolaidou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Medical School, Lab of Medical Informatics, Thessaloniki, Greece
Costas Pattichis, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus

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

Building: LKSC Conference Center Stanford
Room: Lower Auditorium 120
Date: 2011-09-17 02:30 PM – 04:00 PM
Last modified: 2011-08-12

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Over the past few years, Medical Education has been experiencing an evolving shift from ‘teaching’ to ‘learning’, and from classic (passive) lectures to active learning and participation, which is in parallel strongly related to an increasing involvement of information and communication technologies and the Web. Inherent to these developments is also the abundance of medical educational content and resources available in various open educational resources as well as learning platforms of individual academic institutions and scientific societies. Much of this resource information is however hidden thereby rendering the materials not widely available or easy to discover and retrieve, due to lack of standardized content sharing mechanisms. The mEducator project (, is an EU funded initiative of 14 organisations that faces this lack by attempting to establish “best practice” towards the repurposing and sharing of medical educational multi-type content by means of implementing and experimenting between two different sharing mechanisms, namely, one based on Web2.0 and mash-up technologies, and one based on the semantic web (Web3.0) and Linked Open Services.
This paper presents some of the recent efforts and achievements of the mEducator consortium towards the repurposing and sharing of medical educational multi-type content. This is done in three main axes, namely, the creation of mEducator metadata (scheme), and the development of two prototype solutions and platforms: one which is Web2.0 / mash-up based, and a second one, based on Web3.0 and (semantic) Linked Services.
Methods - Results
mEducator work has so far given rise to a model for framing the representation and treatment of information gathered from the reuse and repurposing of learning resources from distributed repositories. The model takes into account both static user-edited or automatically generated metadata fields and the emerging, dynamic information clouds that surround a learning resource when users comment on it, tag it etc, i.e. by a combined use of strict taxonomies/controlled vocabularies with folksonomies. The model in progress also involves, as mentioned above, research and deployment of a semantic Web services architecture to map profile fields to existing Linked Open Data vocabularies and ontologies, enrich existing metadata via identification of key terms, expand search queries via semantically related terms and retrieve additional but related relevant data from external sources.
To this extent, the consortium is currently building two prototype solutions. The first one, Solution 1, is performed upon the widely known MEDTING platform. In fact, the mEducator platform in Solution 1 is a wrapper of MEDTING, with its own user interfaces, look and feel and the specific functionalities of mEducator. This forms a brokerage mechanism based on mashup and other technologies. In a standard mashup scenario, where a website loads several mashups, the mashups are usually hosted in the same web server as the website and the mashups are requesting information from different sources. In solution 1, this is not the case; the mashups are all hosted in the platform's web server and that is the same server that all mashups are going to be querying.
On the other hand, solution 2, practically aims to allow for federated access to eLearning repositories across the Web, thereby integrating existing educational resources using “Linked Services” technologies that enable federated queries for educational resources by (i) end users and (ii) 3rd party applications. Solution 2 also allows the publishing of educational resource metadata as Linked Data, following state of the art Linked Data principles (URIs, RDF, SPARQL, interlinked data with established vocabularies such as SNOMED, MESH, GALEN etc…).
It is true that collaboration and content sharing in (all facets of) medical education will inevitably alter the overall process of developing and preparing educational materials. The formation of content sharing networks/consortia as well as project clusters will ensure that responsibility is not merely vested in just one of the institutions involved, and the notion of collaboration goes beyond merely sharing tasks and content across different educators. To this respect, emphasis in mEducator is also geared to provide an alternative view of learning content organization, management and sharing for use and re-use across healthcare institutions, via „social‟ associations amongst learning resources with emphasis on their repurposing history and creators’ associations. This endeavor is now tested in the provision of the aforementioned solutions/prototypes. Mid-term planned evaluations with different target groups are expected to shed light into its effectiveness.

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