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Can the Internet Replace Face-to-Face Teaching? A Medical Student’s Perspective

Korman, Avi Abraham; Tannen, Amitai Jeremy; Mahgerefteh, Michael Youhana

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002576
Letters to the Editor
Free
SDC

Final-year medical student, Imperial College School of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom; aak212@ic.ac.uk.

Final-year medical student, Imperial College School of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.

Final-year medical student, Imperial College School of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.

Disclosures: None reported.

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To the Editor:

We read with great enthusiasm Dr. Sklar’s1 editorial dedicated to medical education in the age of the Internet.

As millennials entering our final year of medical school, we have been educated in a system at an intriguing crossroads between traditional didactic and technological teaching methods. We have never before had access to such a vast treasure of online resources.

In the article, Dr. Sklar recognizes that the physical classroom and the Internet offer different educational purposes. In our experience, many lectures have focused on the traditional doctrine of learning about disease by recalling fountains of knowledge. Yet, like so many of our cohort, we became conscious that we did not learn these facts from lecture presentations but, instead, from our personal study time, utilizing lecture slides, traditional textbooks, and the treasured Internet. For example, Tackett and colleagues2 explored the well-known YouTube channel Osmosis, noting the audiovisual nature of videos and how viewership has increased exponentially. The age of didactic teaching is slowly ending, with millennials far more receptive to learning basic facts themselves outside the classroom, due to easy access of relevant, web-based materials.

Instead, we recommend that face-to-face teaching focus far more on experiences that cannot be replicated online, such as learning communication skills or clinical reasoning. Online resources can teach us the general knowledge of any particular condition, but face-to-face clinical reasoning allows us to apply that knowledge to the specific patient in front of us.

There is, of course, much to debate about how institutions can provide students with the necessary resources for online learning in a way that is still tightly controlled. However, we strongly encourage all educators to recognize the increasing influence of the Internet in the millennial generation and to focus more of their efforts on teaching skills that cannot be obtained through online learning.

Avi Abraham Korman

Final-year medical student, Imperial College School of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom; aak212@ic.ac.uk.

Amitai Jeremy Tannen

Final-year medical student, Imperial College School of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.

Michael Youhana Mahgerefteh

Final-year medical student, Imperial College School of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.

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References

1. Sklar DP. Can words on the screen replace the face in the classroom? Using the Internet to revolutionize medical education. Acad Med. 2018;93:1095–1097.
2. Tackett S, Slinn K, Marshall T, Gaglani S, Waldman V, Desai R. Medical education videos for the world: An analysis of viewing patterns for a YouTube channel. Acad Med. 2018;93:1150–1156.
© 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges