Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Medical Education and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Software

A novel collaborative e-learning platform for medical students - ALERT STUDENT

Tiago Taveira-Gomes12*, Areo Saffarzadeh23, Milton Severo1, M Jorge Guimarães2 and Maria Amélia Ferreira1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Education and Simulation, Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

2 ALERT Life Sciences Computing, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

3 University of California Irvine School of Medicine, Irvine, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:143  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-143

Published: 14 July 2014

Abstract

Background

The increasing complexity of medical curricula would benefit from adaptive computer supported collaborative learning systems that support study management using instructional design and learning object principles. However, to our knowledge, there are scarce reports regarding applications developed to meet this goal and encompass the complete medical curriculum. The aim of ths study was to develop and assess the usability of an adaptive computer supported collaborative learning system for medical students to manage study sessions.

Results

A study platform named ALERT STUDENT was built as a free web application. Content chunks are represented as Flashcards that hold knowledge and open ended questions. These can be created in a collaborative fashion. Multiple Flashcards can be combined into custom stacks called Notebooks that can be accessed in study Groups that belong to the user institution. The system provides a Study Mode that features text markers, text notes, timers and color-coded content prioritization based on self-assessment of open ended questions presented in a Quiz Mode. Time spent studying and Perception of knowledge are displayed for each student and peers using charts. Computer supported collaborative learning is achieved by allowing for simultaneous creation of Notebooks and self-assessment questions by many users in a pre-defined Group. Past personal performance data is retrieved when studying new Notebooks containing previously studied Flashcards. Self-report surveys showed that students highly agreed that the system was useful and were willing to use it as a reference tool.

Conclusions

The platform employs various instructional design and learning object principles in a computer supported collaborative learning platform for medical students that allows for study management. The application broadens student insight over learning results and supports informed decisions based on past learning performance. It serves as a potential educational model for the medical education setting that has gathered strong positive feedback from students at our school.

This platform provides a case study on how effective blending of instructional design and learning object principles can be brought together to manage study, and takes an important step towards bringing information management tools to support study decisions and improving learning outcomes.

Keywords:
Medical education; Computer supported collaborative learning; E-learning; Information management; Memory retention; Computer-assisted instruction; Tailored learning; Student-centered learning; Spaced repetition