Blended learning and curriculum renewal across three medical schools: The rheumatology module at the University of Otago

Simon Stebbings, Nasser Bagheri, Kellie Perrie, Phil Blyth, jenny McDonald


In response to the challenges created by the implementation of a new medical school curriculum at the University of Otago in 2008, we aimed to develop a blended learning course for teaching rheumatology within the existing musculoskeletal course. We developed a multimedia online learning resource structured to support class based problem-based learning (PBL) sessions, and enhance student engagement and promote clinical reasoning. We also aimed to align teaching over three geographically separate campuses, promote more student-centred approaches to learning and meet the challenge of the limited teaching time available for undergraduate learning in the field of rheumatology. Our redesigned course was evaluated longitudinally over eighteen months through student focus groups, Blackboard and Moodle electronic access data, and course evaluation questionnaires. The data collected indicated an overwhelmingly positive response to the changes in teaching methods. Online materials integrated into the new curriculum and combined with in-class PBL and clinical sessions, proved popular with students. Students accessed the newly developed online materials far more frequently than the previously available unstructured content, which they felt to be of limited value or relevance to their studies. Furthermore the blended learning approach allowed delivery of common content across three separate campuses.

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