Objective: The World Wide Web can be a valuable educational tool, more effective than traditional educational media. Advantages of Web-based media include: (1) incorporation of text, pictures, audio, and video together, (2) addition of interactive components (such as online self-assessment tools), (3) easy modification and updating, (4) easy adaptability to learners of differing levels/skills, (5) 24-hour, long-distance access for learners, and (6) reduced preparation costs compared with photocopying or generating audiotape, video cassette, or CD-ROM.
We used the Web to create a tool for teaching medical school students the cardiac examination as part of a physical diagnosis course.
Description: The Cardiac Exam, 〈http://mediswww.cwru.edu/cardiacexam〉, is a Web-based educational tool, initially developed in 1999, based on a traditional, paper-based physical diagnosis course. The site incorporates text, pictures, audio, and video components, as well as an interactive self-assessment examination. It is designed for learners with a variety of different learning styles and abilities. The materials can be accessed through a main menu where learners choose topics based on specific traditional learning objectives, physical diagnosis components (including history taking and physical exam, i.e., inspection, palpation, percussion, and auscultation), or individual components for review. The learning objectives are rated as beginning (for students in preclinical years) or advanced (for students in clinical years), with each learning objective electronically linked to the material needed to meet the objective. An online self-test with descriptive answers is also included for self-evaluation, with questions graded for both beginning and advanced levels.
The site has been incorporated as a supplement to traditional material used to teach cardiac examination. It is designed to be a stand-alone educational tool with the goal of replacing traditionally used material (such as written handouts), with the advantages listed above.
Discussion: Case Western Reserve University was one of the first schools to have an online electronic medical school curriculum. This curriculum initially focused on material covered during the non-clinical years of medical school. This was the school's first attempt to develop Web-based material to teach clinical skills. In our setting we have access to electronic classrooms where we can teach while connected to the Internet, with access to the Web.
Based on feedback from the students through the online comment form, this cardiac examination site is rated very helpful, and it has been accessed hundreds of time to date. We hope that the ideas and format of this site can serve as a prototype for development of additional Web sites to teach clinical skills.
Annual, Peer-reviewed Collection of Reports of Innovative Approaches to Medical Education