e-Learning Opportunities in Witten-Herdecke, Germany

Dr Martin FischerĀ and DrĀ Marzellus Hofmann from Witten/Herdecke, in Witten, Germany talk about past and present e-learning opportunities at the university.

In the past, a combination of a lack of resources, didactic hesitations and concerns about curriculum integration have hampered the full integration of e-learning resources at Witten/Herdecke.

However, as Martin and Marzellus explain, an increase in student numbers and increased involvement on the part of the teachers in developing e-learning content has resulted in more e-learning opportunities.

They have introduced the CASUS system to clinicians, and have allowed clinicians to review the content before they are offered as an additional tool for students.

The need for e-learning resources, including Virtual Patients, is growing, as is the need to integrate English and German cases into the curriculum, in particular to prepare medical students for both German and US medical examinations on offer.

There are certain challenges in the future, however when integrated into the curriculum in an appropriate way, e-learning tools can be very effective.

Watch the video of Dr Martin Fischer and Dr Marzellus discussing these issues. Please note this video is in German.


Video transcript

With special thanks to Dr Daniela Kempkens at Witten/Herdecke University for this translation.

Martin: We have the oppotunity to add e-learning activities to our current curriculum, and in the past there have also been efforts.

Marzellus: Yes. Between 2001 and 2003 there was a project within this faculty which was financed by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. It was concerned with the implementation of problem-orientated learning into the e-learning environment. The purpose was to adapt complicated patient cases – including the history, physical examination, and lab values, etc – to e-learning.

Unfortunately, continuous funding could not be secured and the project had to be discontinued. It was not intergated into the curriculum. It was clear from the beginning that it would have needed one or two full time equivalents to maintain and continuously update these cases.

Martin: Do you think it was mainly a problem of resources, or were there also ddactic hesitations or hesitations about curriculum intragration?

Marzellus: Definitely both. There was a small number of students with a high student-teacher ratio, with much exposure to practical training. So there was cleary a question of added value of e-learning in the curriculum.

Martin: Recently student numbers have doubled from 42 to 84 students per year at this university. Also, there is quite a heterogeneous cleckship training. Do you see a place in the clinical years for e-learning to establish a common standard for case discussions?

Marzellus: There is definitey an advantage in that. We have started to show the CASUS system to clinicians and introduce the idea of e-learning. Also, they are involved in reviewing the content of cases before these are offered as additional learning tools to students.

Martin: We have also recently introduced clinical skills e-learning cases. What do you think about computer assisted examinations? So far, key examinations are paper-based.

Marzellus: Yes, this is correct, and it means an immense amount of work can be significantly reduced through computer assistance. So far this discussion has focused on ensuring data protection in computer-based learning.

Martin: Through eViP we have the opportunity to use an international pool of virtual patient cases. What is your view on the necessity of integrating Englaish cases?

Marzellus: I think the need is growing. We now offer a program to achieve the German and US medical examinations. The more English learning tools we can offer the greater the acceptance of this program will be among the students.

Martin: We do need to address certain challenges in the future: Clinical clerkships, clinical skills, assessment and internationalisation. This will take up to two years.

Marzellus: e-learning can only work if it is really integrated into the curriculum.

Martin: We have to get the teachers on board, which is not always easy. But we will succeed!

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