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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Impact on learning of an e-learning module on leukaemia: a randomised controlled trial

Yuri Morgulis1, Rakesh K Kumar2, Robert Lindeman1 and Gary M Velan1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia

2 Department of Haematology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW, 2031, Australia

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BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:36  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-36

Published: 28 May 2012



e-learning resources may be beneficial for complex or conceptually difficult topics. Leukaemia is one such topic, yet there are no reports on the efficacy of e-learning for leukaemia. This study compared the learning impact on senior medical students of a purpose-built e-learning module on leukaemia, compared with existing online resources.


A randomised controlled trial was performed utilising volunteer senior medical students. Participants were randomly allocated to Study and Control groups. Following a pre-test on leukaemia administered to both groups, the Study group was provided with access to the new e-learning module, while the Control group was directed to existing online resources. A post-test and an evaluation questionnaire were administered to both groups at the end of the trial period.


Study and Control groups were equivalent in gender distribution, mean academic ability, pre-test performance and time studying leukaemia during the trial. The Study group performed significantly better than the Control group in the post-test, in which the group to which the students had been allocated was the only significant predictor of performance. The Study group’s evaluation of the module was overwhelmingly positive.


A targeted e-learning module on leukaemia had a significant effect on learning in this cohort, compared with existing online resources. We believe that the interactivity, dialogic feedback and integration with the curriculum offered by the e-learning module contributed to its impact. This has implications for e-learning design in medicine and other disciplines.

E-learning; Computer-assisted learning; Medical education; Leukaemia