JACR: Videoconferencing proves effective for practice-based learning
The medium of videoconferencing for the inclusion of radiology trainers and trainees who may not otherwise be able to participate in educational programs was found to be a valuable educational tool and teaching method by researchers from the department of radiology at Cork University Hospital and University College Cork, based in Cork, Ireland.

The study, published in February issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR), included 21 second-year radiology residents at eight centers. The practice-based learning course was rolled out in one-hour sessions for 16 weeks, taught by eight local education site staff radiologists. The videoconferencing technology linked the host site to the participant site.

Participants evaluated the course by way of a five-point Likert-type scale and an open-ended evaluation questionnaire administered at the halfway point of the course (week eight) and once again at the end of the course (week 16), along with a discussion forum regarding the course held during week 15.

Lead author Kevin N. O’Regan, MD, and colleagues found that on the five-point scale utilized for the study, overall satisfaction of the participants with course content achieved a median rating of four. Furthermore, audio quality and local technical support and training also received an average score of four.

The researchers reported that all participants not only completed the course requirements, but agreed that videoconferencing as a medium did not hinder discussion among centers. In addition, 71 percent of residents and 86 percent of local coordinators reported that they would have been unable to participate in the course without videoconferencing.

Despite the overall positive feedback from the participants, the authors wrote that “[some] comments reflected a desire for a shorter, more condensed course; improvement of the quality of visual aids; and more emphasis on research appraisal.”

The researchers concluded that while videoconferencing can serve as a valuable educational tool, the challenges associated with interactive discussion between centers merits further investigation.

“Videoconferencing in this setting removed the requirement for travel and the costs (financial and medical manpower) which would have been necessary had videoconferencing capability not been available. Perhaps most importantly, some would not have been able to participate in the course without videoconferencing,” said O’Regan.