Online learning in paediatrics: A student-led web-based learning modality
Background: Undergraduate medical education is shifting away from traditional didactic methods towards a more self-directed learning environment. E-learning has emerged as a vital learning modality that allows students to apply key principles to practical scenarios in a truly personalised approach. Context: At the University of Alberta, paediatrics is taught longitudinally, with lectures distributed throughout the preclinical curriculum and concentrated in the 8-week paediatric clinical clerkship. As a result, students entering clerkship lack core foundational knowledge and clinical skills. Innovation: PedsCases (http://www.pedscases.com) is a student-driven interactive website designed to achieve the learning outcomes identified by the competency-based paediatric curriculum. This open-access e-learning tool is a comprehensive peer-reviewed learning resource that incorporates various learning modalities. Material is student generated and peer reviewed by staff paediatricians to ensure validity, accuracy and usefulness. After 17 months, PedsCases contains 216 questions, 19 cases, 11 flashcard-type quizzes, 11 podcasts and two clinical videos, and has had 2148 unique visitors from 73 different countries. PedsCases is one of the top five references returned by Internet search engines for the phrase 'paediatrics for medical students'. Implications: PedsCases is a collaborative resource created for and by medical students that provides an opportunity for active self-directed learning while disseminating knowledge in an evidence-based, interactive and clinically relevant fashion. PedsCases encourages students to take an active role in their education and drive medical education initiatives in response to the evolving curriculum. As the focus of medical education shifts towards independent learning, student-led educational tools such as PedsCases have emerged as essential resources for students. © Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2010.