Web-based teaching

INTRODUCTION

Since the early 1980s, technology has significantly influenced teaching methods. Today’s institutions face challenges that include shifting demographics, rising student expectations, changing work environment, changing needs, and increased competition. To address these challenges, universities have implemented a variety of new teaching approaches, including distance learning through tele-education networks, audio and video conferencing, and Web-based or Web-assisted teaching.

Medical education communities have explored Web-assisted teaching for several years, and many educators are gradually turning to electronic classrooms. Budgetary and physical constraints are forcing universities to re-evaluate their traditional teaching approaches even as they attempt to reach more students. It is essential to assess the impact of these new technologies on knowledge acquisition and retention, as well as students’ satisfaction. The Internet is an interesting pedagogical tool because of its text, audio, and video features. It facilitates active learning and increases opportunities to develop new communication skills. However, effective use of the Internet for teaching does not entail simply converting existing text into Web pages. The Web format should take advantage of hyperlinks and the possibility of nonlinear navigation.

Although there is no consensus on the absolute value of online education, some authors believe it has the potential to complete, broaden, and even replace traditional classroom teaching, while accommodating students’ learning pace. Some published studies have assessed online teaching or described a trial of this teaching approach. Bell and others found that online teaching improved the learning process for medical residents, as well as their satisfaction level, relative to the use of a hard copy of the same teaching material.
vices cliniques) et s’ils etaient favorables a l’enseignement par Internet dans l’ensemble. Aucune difference dans les cotes globales des cohortes n’a ete observee.

However, knowledge acquisition and retention did not improve. Time spent studying was 30% less when the Internet was used. Yucha and others found no difference in the results of a one-credit module of pathophysiology taught to nurses via the Web or in the traditional classroom environment.

The virtual learning environment challenges educators to redefine their role; that role is no longer to simply inform but now includes guiding students toward the pursuit of knowledge, giving technical support, and guiding exchanges. Some have proposed that these changes have shifted teachers’ role from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side”.

In 1999, the Faculties of Pharmacy at the Universite de Montreal and Universite Laval decided to reorganize their pharmacy management courses. At the same time, the Universite de Montreal was implementing a Web-based platform (WebCT, an e-learning system designed specifically for educational institutions; WebCT Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia) to provide distance learning. This article describes the development of the new hospital pharmacy management course, which included a Web-based forum, and the evaluation of students’ satisfaction with the course.