Scaffolding Clinical Problem based Learning WITHIN an Online Collaborative Environment

L. Lockyer and J. Patterson (Australia)


Web-based education, medical education, problem based learning, case based learning, collaboration


With a specific focus on addressing the health care needs of regional, rural and remote communities, the new medical school at the University of Wollongong will open the doors to its first cohort of students in January 2007. Clinical placements will see students spend substantial periods of time in general practices located in these target communities – which may be as far as 1200km from campus. Problem based learning (PBL) is the underpinning educational strategy used to facilitate students’ integration of medical science knowledge and clinical competencies. Educational technology has made a significant impact on the quality of the resources used to facilitate PBL in medical education through the development of multimedia clinical cases and online delivery of curriculum materials, readings, and literature. However, the learning interactions remain largely face-to face. The unique context of this medical school requires the design of solutions that utilize communication technologies to connect learning groups but that do so in a way that scaffolds the learning process that is so embedded in the traditional face-to-face setting. This paper outlines the PBL process currently implemented in medical education and proposes a framework to structure the process when learners engage in web-based environments.

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