The Health Sciences Education Technology or EdTech Unit (formerly known as Medical Education Technology or MEdTech Unit) – was created in October 2003 with a mission to enhance learning and teaching through innovations in education technology. Our work has targeted four broad strategies:
Develop a Strong Information Technology Infrastructure
This is the foundation upon which we build our e-learning solutions. Within the past few years we have:
- Developed excellent partnerships with the Information Technology (MedIT) and the central University’s Information Technology Services (ITS)
- Upgraded to new servers (in collaboration with MedIT and ITS)
- Developed a sophisticated authentication system that defines all students, faculty, and staff in the School of Medicine
- Implemented other administrative solutions (e.g. a clerkship evaluation system that manages > 3,000 evaluations per year, a regional clerkship housing management system, an online registration & payment system for new and returning residents, etc.)
- Conducted data security audits (in collaboration with MedIT and ITS)
- Continued upgrades to server capacity and capabilities, as needed.
Develop a Student-Centered e-Learning Portal and Learning Management System
The goal is for learners to access all their academic needs from one site, including the curriculum objectives database, lecture schedules, lecture notes and other e-learning resources, library e-resources, and communication and collaboration tools. Within the past few years, the EdTech Unit has:
- Developed a custom-built learning management system (LMS) with ease-of-use and other features that are superior to commercial LMS solutions;
- Launched an e-learning portal, whose centerpiece is a student “dashboard”. Its success is reflected in high traffic, which average > 1,700 unique visits per day;
- Developed a searchable curriculum database, that identifies where learning objectives are covered in the curriculum;
- Developed a visual academic calendar, whose data can even be synchronized to a student’s personal computer, PDA, mobile phone, or iPod;
- Developed a digital assets repository housing > 1,200 reusable learning objects;
- Supported > 1,200 lectures or other learning sessions per academic year;
- Continued research and development into better online communication and collaboration tools.
Develop Interactive e-Learning Resources
To move an entire School forward, it is strategically important to rapidly populate the e-learning portal and LMS with e-learning resources. Within the past few years, the EdTech Unit has:
- Increased the percentage of lectures that have e-learning resources to 63.8%;
- Developed a QWeb content management system for the rapid creation and easy maintenance of academic and course websites;
- Developed a model for the rapid development of interactive multimedia learning objects;
- Developed a model for streaming clinical rounds online;
- Continued research and development into more ways to support on-demand learning (e.g. podcasting).
Promote Transformational Change and Scholarship
EdTech ultimately aims to transform the culture of learning and teaching, in collaboration with local and national partners, to be more interactive, integrated, and relevant. Within the past few years, the EdTech Unit has:
- Developed excellent relationships with student, faculty, and staff stakeholders;
- Given regular presentations locally (e.g. Faculty of Education, School of Business, ITS), regionally (e.g. OMEN), and nationally (e.g. AFMC);
- Assumed recently a national leadership role as Chair, AFMC Resource Group on Medical Informatics;
- Developed showcase courses that use educational technology effectively;
- Funded student-managed e-learning awards;
- Implemented a powerful web statistics tool to analyze online behaviours and patterns;
- Defined pilot projects for transforming learning and teaching in key courses throughout all phases of undergraduate medical education.
In summary, we have witnessed key achievements and successes from ambitious research and development. The Faculty of Health Sciences now has a leading IT infrastructure, and e-learning portal – all of which will be improved upon continuously. The focus for the coming years will be to work collaboratively to create more interactive learning objects and other e-learning resources, to transform the culture of learning and teaching, and to promote scholarship in e-learning.