Abstracts | e-Learning

The lived experience of medical students in a constructivist eLearning environment. A qualitative analysis


  • O'Loughlin K


Computer-based learning environments are increasingly utilised in various formats at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. In the last year we have introduced eLearning resources for students to facilitate learning in certain components of the psychiatry undergraduate curriculum in University College Dublin. The transition from a teacher-centred to learner-centred approach to curriculum delivery inherent in this move inevitably brings with it a wide range both individual and collective student experience.


The aim was to characterize the lived experience of medical students in an innovative online learning environment with regard to its emotional, cognitive and behavioural dimensions. Specifically, a key consideration was to determine how these experiences related to the eLearning process.


This study was situated within the qualitative research paradigm. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with student eLearners to elicit their experiences. Exploratory thematic analysis of data was carried out and an interpretive approach was used. A constant-comparison method of examining relationships between the emerging themes and current research in the field was undertaken.


Learning online is held to be an interactive multisensory experience. The integration of interactive instructional material into the multimedia platform is valued by students as is the opportunity to establish links with fellow students and tutors. Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors are emergent with a sense of control over learning revealed as an important facet of intrinsic motivation influencing student engagement with eLearning. The breadth of emotional experience is noteworthy, as is its association with elements of the student learning environment. Negative affective experiences, such as anxiety are associated with extrinsic motivational factors influencing engagement with eLearning. ‘Time’ considerations are paramount as these new ways of learning emerge.


This study highlights a broad spectrum of individual experiences in a novel eLearning environment and hints at the complexity of the interaction between cognitive, emotional and behavioural elements when students undertake such learning. The results have implications for the development and delivery of eLearning in psychiatry at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Attention is drawn to new experiences inherent in the transition from a learner-centred to teacher-centred approach to curriculum delivery. This serves to highlight the importance of a coherent alignment of learning objectives, learning strategy and assessment method if motivation for engagement in eLearning is to be maintained.

AXON: A novel interactive educational tool for improved 3-D understanding of neuroanatomy


  • Chan C, Tattersall A, Last J, Flanagan T C


There is a general consensus that neuroanatomy is one of the most difficult subjects of the undergraduate medicine curriculum on account of its sheer complexity. Studies have reported that better teaching methods may be more effective in conveying the complex spatial relationships of brain anatomy (1). This study aimed to develop a freely-available interactive animated learning resource that could be used to improve spatial and functional understanding of neuroanatomical concepts, and to determine its effectiveness through a student survey.

As a pilot concept, we proposed to develop interactive animations to demonstrate complex sensory pathways. Original images were created in Adobe Illustrator, and subsequently animated using Motion software to illustrate sensory pathways. These animations were then integrated into a website using Adobe Fireworks and Dreamweaver to allow for an interactive user experience, and the resource was made available to undergraduate Medicine students for one semester.

The students (n=230) were subsequently invited to complete a survey comparing this resource to other learning resources used to aid their 3-D understanding of neuroanatomy.

The resulting pilot interactive website (AXON - Animated Exploration of Neuroanatomy) allowed users to ‘stimulate’ sensations in a virtual character at specified locations (foot, hand and face). Interactive images, animations, anatomical/clinical information, in addition to voice-over material, were provided in the package to assist the overall learning experience. 65 students (28%) completed the subsequent survey. As an overall resource, the vast majority of those students (88%, n=57) felt that AXON offered a better 3-D understanding of nervous system structures compared to other neuroanatomy resources.

With regard to resource components, most students suggested that the graphics (91%), animated sequences (92%), mouse-over information (74%) and voice-over material (86%) were superior to those of other neuroanatomy resources. Suggestions for further development of the product focussed on classical lesions (34%), descending pathways (29%) and special sensory pathways (27%).

A freely-available pilot resource has been developed for integration into undergraduate Medicine curricula to assist neuroanatomy teaching. It is evident that this tool can be used to enhance the learning experience of neuroanatomy. The product will be further developed to aid teaching and learning of additional neuroanatomy topics.

Feasability of an e-learning module on delirium


  • Ni Chorcorain, MacSuibhne S O'loughlin K, Watts N,Guerandel A,Malone K


Delirium is a commonly encountered condition with high levels of associated morbidity and mortality, yet is often unrecognised or poorly managed. RIt has been argued that better recognition results in improved management (Rockwood 1999) .Educating medical students about delirium poses many challenges (Irving 2009). Bedside teaching and exposure to the condition at undergraduate level is often limited, one reason being its often fluctuant nature.

We wished to investigate the feasibility of an e-learning module on delirium for use by students during their psychiatry placement. We used action research methodology.

In action research cycle one a prototype of an interactive elearning session was developed following consultation with clinicians and educators. The module included an entry knowledge quiz, followed video clips of simulated actors demonstrating the condition accompanied by further intreractive questions.

A structured tool, which has been demonstrated to improve recognition, The Confusion assessment method, was then demonstrated and followed by further, interactive questions. For the second cycle feedback was sought from staff on the prototype module, and the elearning module was further developed alterations made based on their suggestions. The module was then piloted with a group of students.

Students were encouraged to use the session, but it was not compulsory. Focus groups were held with the students to seek feedback on the module. Student engagement was also measured quantitatively by recording the frequency of online visits to the e-learning delirium module. Content analysis of the focus groups revealed a high level of engagement and satisfaction with the module. 83% of students visited the site at least once, the median number of visits was 4. In summary the positive feedback from the students and the level of engagement suggests it is feasible to use trigger clip videos and on line material to teach delirium

Student evaluation of E- Learning in psychiatry: used and helpful?


  • Tessema H1, Schneider I2, Guerandel A3 , Holloway P4, Watts N5, Malone K6


E- Learning: is defined as instruction delivered on a digital device such as a computer or mobile that is intended to support learning. E-Learning is increasingly becoming widely used in medical education. E-Learning has been used in the teaching of psychiatry to UCD undergraduate students since 2002.


Evaluate the uptake of e-Learning units in psychiatry and assess students’ views on the utility of e-Learning units in facilitating learning.


Two groups of students that completed clinical two psychiatry module in the semester year 2011/2012 were selected to partake in the evaluation. At the end of each six week attachment students were given a paper questionnaire on e- learning. Students’ anonymity was respected and questionnaire was filled on voluntary basis only.


There is a high user rate and positive experience towards e-Learning in psychiatry. Ninety two percent of the student group responded that e-learning and blackboard material was helpful in aiding learning in psychiatry and it was only 7.4% who responded that it was not helpful. The e-learning units on history taking and interview skills had the highest user uptake at 93.75% followed by Affective disorders (84.3%), Psychopharmacology (76.92%) and Delirium (61.54%). A small proportion of students having used the e-learning units responded that it did not facilitate their learning. This emphasizes the need to reinforce knowledge gained from e-learning through direct clinical exposure. Conclusions: There is a very high student user rate of E- learning in psychiatry.

E-learning units prioritizing core subject matter which students are expected to master are popular with students. E- Learning in psychiatry is not a replacement to face to face teaching and clinical exposure but properly blended in the curriculum contributes to enhance the learning experience.

The academic/student partnership: the ideal combination for developing teaching/learning packages


  • Tattersall A, Ennis R, Ryan B, Creane D, Kelly B, Last J, Giles S


With the rapid development of educational technology, teachers need to keep pace with student needs. In this regard, consideration must be given to the various ways one can develop and deliver existing and new material and to the various media through which this can be disseminated. The student is the target. It therefore makes sense, for teachers to be informed by, and involve students in the development of new teaching products. This study, reports on the experience of one such academic/student team, which was formed to develop an anatomy teaching package.

Summary of work

Based on student feedback to an initial basic interactive anatomy teaching tool we decided to develop the next product using an academic/student team. The latter was formed after an advertising/interview process and comprised of 2 academics and 4 students, with each person making a unique contribution.

Summary of results

Anatomical Picture Explorer (forearm) was developed incorporating digitally enhanced anatomical drawings, cadaveric and radiographic images and a comprehensive self-test platform. This product was designed to supplement the existing lecture/dissection schedule. The teacher/student perspectives were addressed at all times through constant constructive dialogue. In addition, many offshoot project ideas were generated.

Discussion and conclusions

Our starting point was that learning should be an enjoyable experience. The team experience was at all times enjoyable, resulting in a product that we feel will be both fun yet taxing to use. We therefore approach the evaluation of the effectiveness of this product with confidence.

YouTube as a global delivery vehicle for e-learning resources in medical education: A case study


  • Tattersall A, Chan C, Last J, Flanagan TC


Students are bombarded with online material through a variety of different applications every day. After developing neuroanatomical content a decision was made to place one of the clips in Youtube and see if its quality and qualified content would be found and then watched.

Summary of Work

After the 2 minute animation was completed it was uploaded into Youtube to be discovered. UCD students were given access to this material via a separate website. There was no promotional work done to drive traffic to this content. A conscious decision was made not to advertise the clip to see how it would be discovered by the general public searching in youtube. This clip was also put up with a creative commons license allowing people to add this clip to their site.

Summary of Results

This material has been avaiable online since the 28th September of 2012. Currently it has been viewed just under 1300 times in a total of 44 different countries and would have played continiously for over 24 hours. In the US alone it has been played in a total of 34 different States and Ghana holds the highest retention rate at just under 200%. It has been embedded into a variety of locations such as facebook, World News.com, to Beaufort County Community College and twitter to name a few. Just under 13% of all the views were undertaken on a mobile device and 71 views from facebook.

Discussion and Conclusions

The hits for this clip continue to go up on a daily basis. Although modest numbers compared to the numerous sporting mishaps that are online it shows that if educational content is uploaded it will be found. It has also shown that the content will also be passed on by a variety of different ways and shared by what ever means are available. It provides an interesting background for the next part of the project which will be to add the additional clips and then to actively promote the materia