The Medical Education Technology Unit at the School of Medicine, Queen’s University – better known as MEdTech – was created in October 2003 with a mission to enhance learning and teaching through innovations in education technology.
Its work has targeted four broad strategies:
- Develop a Strong Information Technology Infrastructure
This is the foundation upon which MEdTech builds its e-learning solutions. Within the past few years, MEdTech has:
- Developed excellent partnerships with the School’s Medical Information Technology (MedIT) and the central University’s Information Technology Services (ITS);
- Upgraded to new servers (in collaboration with MedIT and ITS);
- Developed a sophisticated authentication system that defines all students, faculty, and staff in the School of Medicine;
- Developed a web-based proxy solution that assures ubiquitous access (even from behind regional/remote hospital firewalls) to the University library system’s e-resources;
- Implemented other administrative solutions (e.g. a clerkship evaluation system that manages > 3,000 evaluations per year, a regional clerkship housing management system, an online registration & payment system for new and returning residents, etc.);
- Conducted data security audits (in collaboration with MedIT and ITS);
- Continued upgrades to server capacity and capabilities, as needed.
- Develop a Student-Centered e-Learning Portal and Learning Management System
The goal is for learners to access all their academic needs from one site, including the curriculum objectives database, lecture schedules, lecture notes and other e-learning resources, library e-resources, and communication and collaboration tools. Within the past few years, MEdTech has:
- Developed a custom-built learning management system (LMS) with ease-of-use and other features that are superior to commercial LMS solutions;
- Launched an e-learning portal, whose centerpiece is a student “dashboard”. Its success is reflected in high traffic, which average > 1,700 unique visits per day;
- Developed a searchable curriculum database, that identifies where learning objectives are covered in the curriculum;
- Developed a visual academic calendar, whose data can even be synchronized to a student’s personal computer, PDA, mobile phone, or iPod;
- Developed a digital assets repository housing > 1,200 reusable learning objects;
- Supported > 1,200 lectures or other learning sessions per academic year;
- Continued research and development into better online communication and collaboration tools.
- Develop Interactive e-Learning Resources
To move an entire School forward, it is strategically important to rapidly populate the e-learning portal and LMS with e-learning resources. Within the past few years, MEdTech has:
- Promote Transformational Change and Scholarship
MEdTech ultimately aims to transform the culture of learning and teaching, in collaboration with local and national partners, to be more interactive, integrated, and relevant. Within the past few years, MEdTech has:
- Developed excellent relationships with student, faculty, and staff stakeholders;
- Given regular presentations locally (e.g. Faculty of Education, School of Business, ITS), regionally (e.g. OMEN), and nationally (e.g. AFMC);
- Assumed recently a national leadership role as Chair, AFMC Resource Group on Medical Informatics;
- Developed showcase courses that use educational technology effectively;
- Funded student-managed e-learning awards;
- Implemented a powerful web statistics tool to analyze online behaviours and patterns;
- Defined pilot projects for transforming learning and teaching in key courses throughout all phases of undergraduate medical education.
In summary, MEdTech’s first few years have witnessed key achievements and successes from ambitious research and development. The School of Medicine now has a leading IT infrastructure, learning management system, and e-learning portal – all of which will be improved upon continuously. The focus for the coming years will be to work collaboratively to create more interactive learning objects and other e-learning resources, to transform the culture of learning and teaching, and to promote scholarship in e-learning.