AMEE 2009: Labyrinth VP crosses cultural and educational barriers

michaelAMEE 2009, Malaga, Spain. Here, Mr Michael Begg from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland talks to eViP about how the Labyrinth virtual patient system is used in different cultures, and gives the lowdown on the general state of virtual patient development.

Michael Begg has previously worked with Rachel Ellaway from the University of Northern Ontario, Canada in developing the Labyrinth virtual patient player.

As he explains: “Initially it [Labyrinth] comes from my background in research of game-based and game-informed learning, and it was taking some of the principles of those approaches that allowed Rachel primarily to take up the role of developing this system that can accommodate branching logic and can generate quite complex cases.”

He described how Labyrinth is used at the University of Edinburgh, including acute medical cases in the undergraduate medical curriculum, and also in vet electives, where “the students themselves author the cases and the reviewing of the complex cases becomes an intrinsic part of their assessment.”

Interestingly, over the past four years Labyrinth has been adopted into the medical curriculum by the College of Medicine in Malawi. As Michael explains: “In Malawi, their education system for medics is undergoing a period of transition. They’re trying to get from a didactic system of education to something that’s more self-directed.”

Labyrinth was initially used to ‘train the trainers’, however the system was quickly incorporated into the curriculum. “They took to the system because they come from a very strong narrative tradition there. They really identified with the idea of using stories.”

Clearly Labyrinth caters to the needs of students from a wide range of educational and cultural backgrounds. However, in terms of general virtual patient development, Michael feels that the emphasis is still on sharing cases, whereas the focus should be on customising cases that have already been developed.

“There seems to be a lot of reinventing of the wheel,” he said. “There’s a huge emphasis on sharing, and certainly eViP is one of those projects that is looking to share a huge amount of cases, and it’s a remarkable achievement to get the number of cases that they have. But people want to generate their own content.”

However, he adds that: “The future […] is going to be much more in the local customisation of the stuff that’s developed. And you can see that change coming.”

Listen to the full interview with Michael Begg here.

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