E-learning is effective education method for healthcare professionals

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Internet-based education is a generally effective teaching methodology for healthcare professionals, according to a study that was published in the Sept. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Lead author David Cook, MD, an associate professor of medicine who practices general internal medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., conducted the study with researchers from Mayo and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. They reviewed more than 200 studies about internet-based instruction, and concluded that internet-based instruction is associated with large learning gains compared to no instruction.

The research also showed that internet-based instruction compared favorably to traditional instructional methods.

“Our findings suggest that internet-based instruction is an effective way to teach healthcare professionals,” Cook said. "We now can confirm that, across a wide variety of learners, learning contexts, clinical topics and learning outcomes, internet-based instruction can be as effective as traditional methods."

Cook noted that internet-based instruction has unique advantages, including flexible scheduling, adaptability of instruction and readily available content that is easily updated.

“As healthcare workers balance challenging practice demands, the ever-expanding volume of medical knowledge requires us to find more effective, efficient ways to learn,” Cook said. “Internet-based instruction will be an important part of the solution.”

“There is more research to be done as we try to find out how to make internet-based instruction most effective,” Cook concluded. “We are currently conducting research looking at this issue. We also are reviewing other published research to see how to optimize internet-based instruction.”