Computer-based management of content in planning a problem-based medical curriculum

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The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney has undertaken a major educational change from a traditional didactic 6-year, undergraduate entry programme to a 4-year problem-based programme to which only graduates are admitted. We have used two computer-based tools which proved invaluable in developing and managing the content of the new curriculum. The first, developed using a commercial database and made available on the Faculty's Intranet, provided a means for eliciting appropriate problems, organizing content fields and searching the information. The second, based on a spreadsheet, provided a means of displaying agreed content on implementation grids, both for self-directed learning and conventional teaching sessions. Both provided ready access for scrutiny, interaction, review and planning by staff and they greatly enhanced the process of understanding the nature of the new curriculum, and thus in reassuring staff about the change. By merging the two tools, a definitive curriculum database is emerging.

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