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Open Access Highly Accessed Debate

How to improve medical education website design

Stephen D Sisson*, Felicia Hill-Briggs and David Levine

Author Affiliations

Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 600 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore 21287, USA

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BMC Medical Education 2010, 10:30  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-30

Published: 21 April 2010



The Internet provides a means of disseminating medical education curricula, allowing institutions to share educational resources. Much of what is published online is poorly planned, does not meet learners' needs, or is out of date.


Applying principles of curriculum development, adult learning theory and educational website design may result in improved online educational resources. Key steps in developing and implementing an education website include: 1) Follow established principles of curriculum development; 2) Perform a needs assessment and repeat the needs assessment regularly after curriculum implementation; 3) Include in the needs assessment targeted learners, educators, institutions, and society; 4) Use principles of adult learning and behavioral theory when developing content and website function; 5) Design the website and curriculum to demonstrate educational effectiveness at an individual and programmatic level; 6) Include a mechanism for sustaining website operations and updating content over a long period of time.


Interactive, online education programs are effective for medical training, but require planning, implementation, and maintenance that follow established principles of curriculum development, adult learning, and behavioral theory.