Proceedings of The Physiological Society

University of Bristol (2005) J Physiol 567P, PC221

Poster Communications

Reusable learning objects in undergraduate medical education

Heard, Joy; Ward, Jeremy; Rees, John; Byrne, David E;

1. Medical Education, GKT School of Medicine, King's College London, London, United Kingdom. 2. Dept of Asthma, Allergy and Respiratory Science, Kings College London, London, United Kingdom.


For many years attempts have been made to integrate science and clinical practice in the education of medical students and doctors. Curricula such as those at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’ (GKT) have gone some way to introduce this approach. In particular we have introduced some clinical experience into the first two years of the course. This clinical element has been an addition to the basic science, rather than the starting point of the students’ learning. In the later years of the course when students are on clinical attachments in small groups on many sites it has been difficult to ensure the coverage of core material and the continued presence of basic science elements alongside the clinical experience. There is a need to provide electronic learning resources that can be “reused” by students at all levels and of different healthcare disciplines. Developments such as the GKT Virtual Campus give us the opportunity to do this in a way that provides a common format and common access to learning material and resources that can become familiar to students, and can allow access at multiple levels to return to problems throughout a programme and between courses reinforcing and expanding the students’ learning. We have developed an innovative system of Web-accessible reusable learning resources and the indexing and database systems necessary to deliver them appropriately. A reusable learning objects may include short, single web page tutorials, simple lecture notes, PowerPoint presentations, annotated and animated diagrams and photographs, validated and reviewed external web sites, video clips, and simulations. We have built a relational database based on SQL server (running on a Windows 2003 server and IIS 6.0) to run and catalogue the resources. We have designed the database query and indexing system to be structurally in line with other institutions, projects (national and international) and standards in order that interoperability is possible between data stores in the future. We have begun to populate the database with learning objects in a variety of formats that have been converted from older formats. These have mainly concentrated on basic cardiovascular and respiratory learning objects (respiratory volumes, the gas laws, lung structure and anatomy, gas transport in the blood) and are available as single images and complex Flash animations. We are also in close liaison with academic content specialists to develop learning objects as well as intending to provide staff training in using metadata (descriptive information associated with each learning object used for indexing, cataloguing and searching), which is critical to the success of the project.

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