Development of an Undergraduate Medical Curriculum: The McGill Experience

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In 1997 the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University received a grant from the Molson Foundation. The primary project deliverable, which the authors describe, was an online, multimedia-enhanced, undergraduate medical curriculum. The decision to develop an electronic curriculum was predicated on the belief that the integration of educational technology within mainstream material delivered a “value added” component to both students and faculty, which would, in turn, facilitate teaching and learning. Pedagogical values were deemed to include: (1) the ability to use the media to implement adult learning principles such as learner-centered, self-directed and guided learning, (2) the inherent interactivity of the technology, (3) the potential of the technology to provide a powerful means for fostering forms of “termless” learning that students will need to practice medicine, (4) recognition that use of multimedia can address, in part, the variety of learning styles evidenced by students in the lecture hall and classroom, and (5) the provision of opportunities for horizontal and vertical curricular integration. In addition, it was anticipated that an electronic curriculum would permit: (1) easy incorporation of informatics within mainstream curricula, (2) centralization and standardization of curricular material, (3) editorial functionality for revisions and updates, (4) wide accessibility of material irrespective of venue, (5) search functionality for faculty and students, (6) the ability to perform curriculum inventory, and (7) the potential for use to compensate for decreased faculty time. The ongoing experience at McGill has shown that the merging of technology and pedagogy requires a substantial commitment of resources and recognition of faculty time and change-management issues.

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