Virtual University: our experience with educational programs in Health through the Internet

Daniel Sigulem
Prof. Dr. Diretor,
Centro de Informática em Saúde - CIS/EPM,
Universidade Federal de São Paulo / Escola Paulista de Medicina, Brasil

sigulem@epm.br
http://www.epm.br


Distance Education - Virtual University

Concept

Physical separation between teacher and student;

  • Use of communication and computation technologies to unite teacher and student and, to deliver a course content;
  • Two-way communication between student, teacher, other students and institutions; opportunity to have occasional meetings with academic purposes - socializing

(Keegan, 1991)

Evolution

1st generation -Textual (Decade: 60): self-learning with support of didactic printed material;

2nd generation - Analogical - (1960-1980): self-learning with support of technological multimedia resources;

3rd generation - Digital (1980 -nowadays): self-learning with support of highly differentiated technological resources (Wilson, 97, Spodik, 97) - Intranets and Internet.

(Saba, 97; Roberts, 96)

Today more than 80 countries, in the five continents, adopt distance education in all teaching levels, in formal and non-formal educational programs, assisting millions of students.

 

World-Wide Universities teaching at a distance

University of Chicago, US
University of Athabasca, Canada
Open University, UK
Fern Universität, Germany
National University of Distance Education, Spain
Indira Gandhi National Open University, India
State university the Distance, Costa Rica
Open National University, Venezuela

Distance Education in Brazil

Decade: 80 - nowadays: Distance Education in expansion; printed material + analogical + digital

 

Universities in Brazil teaching at a distance:

UFSC - Federal University of Santa Catarina
UFRJ - Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
USP - University of São Paulo
UFPE - Federal University of Pernambuco
UNIFESP - Federal University of São Paulo / Escola Paulista de Medicina

 

UNIFESP - Federal University of São Paulo / Escola Paulista de Medicina

To be integrated in the globalization process of education, UNIFESP decided to incorporate modern communication technologies in its educational programs and investigate a model of Distance Education - Virtual University to Health Sciences.

The World Wide Web was the chosen tool to present teaching material through the Internet.

 

Experience of UNIFESP in Distance Education

Evolution

First Model: 1995 (duration: 1 year)

Electronic publishing information in multimedia format through WWW. E-mail based interaction: passive interaction teacher/student:

Second Model: 1997 (duration: 6 months) - Virtual University

Electronic publishing information in multimedia format through WWW. E-mail based interaction: active interaction teacher/student:

Third Model: 1997 (duration: 1 year) - Virtual University

Electronic publishing information in multimedia format through WWW. E-mail-based interaction: active interaction teacher/student:
Pedagogical model: Problem-Solving-Based Learning - PSBL

Working Groups/Discussion List

 

First Model

Objectives

Pilot Project: teamwork training in the use of multimedia tools and, in the drawing, development and management of courses via the Internet
Supply additional support to the UNIFESP's graduation educational program through Intranet
Allow users to have access to the information, multimedia textbooks and teaching files on Genetics and Molecular Biology available at the UNIFESP.

 

Genetics and Molecular Biology

First Model

Design

Web-based program
Presentation of course content in multimedia format - hypertexts, animation and sound

Contents:

230 pages
357 images
8 animation
31 audio
15 references to other sites on the Internet

Registering and password not-required - open course
Independent learning
No evaluation

 

First Model

Distribution of Registered Users According to Countries

Brasil: 95
United States: 01
Portugal: 01
# Total registered users: 97

 

First Model

Distribution of Registered Users According to Brazilian States

#. Users: 95
#. Accesses: 7021

Second Model

Virtual Course in Basic Dermatology - Virtual University

 

Second Model

Objectives

Introduce a model of distance education based on the active interaction between student/teacher: e-mail-based interaction;
Deliver knowledge in Basic Dermatology for the medical students and physicians, enabling them to recognize the elementary dermatological lesions and accomplish the differential diagnosis among case studies.
Allow continuing medical education

 

Second Model

Design

  • Web-based program
  • Presentation of course content in multimedia format - hypertexts, animation and sound texts, images and references for another Internet sites
  • Username and password required - closed course
  • restricted access: 14 places available, registration and selection (entry requirements)
  • A class per day
  • Independent learning
  • FAQ publication
  • Interaction among student-teacher/team by:
  • fax (registering - document copies)
  • electronic mail (active interaction)
  • regular mail (sending certificates)
  • Evaluation requirement: physical presence of the student

 

Second Model

Distribution of Registered Students According to Countries

Brasil: 73
United States: 02
Netherlands: 01
# Total registered users: 76

 

Second Model

Distribution of Participants and Registered Students According to Brazilian States

Participants: 14
Registered Users: 73

 

Second Model

Course Schedule

Session   

Duration

Registration/Selection   

15 days

Class 1. Elementary lesions   

1 day

Class 2. Drug Eruption   

1 day

Class 3. Piodermitis   

1 day

Class 4. Acne  

1 day

Discussion  

1 day

Evaluation

-

Total:  

20 days

Second Model

Student's profile:

Total: 14 students
11 male
3 female
Age: 26 years (average)
12 students were computer users for more than

2 years with the following purposes:

Work: 10
Research: 12
Study: 13
Leisure: 14
Undergraduate: 11
Physicians: 3

 

Second Model

Evaluation:

8 students accomplished the written test
1 student from São Paulo state accomplished the evaluation at UNIFESP
7 off-site students were tested at their own places
all certificates were sent through regular mail after the evaluation
students' first experience in attending course at a distance
students have showed intention in repeating the experience

Distribution of Students according to Examination Places (States)

States  

# Students

São Paulo  

1

Parana  

3

Sergipe  

2

Santa Catarina  

1

Minas Gerais  

1

Total  

8

Third Model

Nutrition in Public Health - Specialization Course - Virtual University

Objectives

Introduce a pedagogical tool in the UNIFESP's model of distance education;
Deliver knowledge on Nutrition in Public Health for nutritionists in order to qualify them in the area of population nutritional conditions improvement;
Qualify nutritionists to diagnose and to elaborate solutions for the main problems on the area - specialist.

 

Third Model

Design

Web-based program;
Presentation of course content in multimedia format - hypertexts, texts, images and references for other Internet sites, library of terms, recommended bibliographical references, animation and sound;
Username and password required - closed course
restricted access: 10 places available, registration and entry requirements (selection)
Discussion list
Problem-solving based learning - PSBL
Each theme (content) is represented by a group of problems with increasing complexity degrees
student's performance evaluation through assignments
Interaction among student-teacher/team by:
electronic mail (active interaction)
fax (for registering - document copies)
regular mail (sending certificates)
Evaluation requirement: physical presence of the student

 

Third Model

Student's profile:

Total: 10 students
Female: 10
Age: 33 years (average)
Students' first experience in attending a course at a distance

 

Third Model

Information exchange

E-mail messages received/student: 26
E-mail messages sent/ student: 19
E-mail exchanged messages: 298

Total number of accesses: 6104

 

Third Model

Evaluation

5 accomplished the final evaluation:
failure: 1
approved: 4
4 students gave up the course due to:
health problems: 2
technical problems: 1
personal problems: 1

 

Models of Distance Education:
Open x Closed

Open Model:

low commitment of the institution and faculty with the students
smaller work load for faculty and team
prior training of faculty and team is not essential
faculty cannot control the pace of the instruction process
few or less precise control of students' feedback

x

Closed Model:

high commitment of the institution and faculty with the students
greater work load for faculty and team
prior training of faculty and team is essential
faculty can control the pace of instruction
precise feedback of student's performance
students felt excited by trying to solve practical problems

Controversies: Evaluation physically present: Is it really necessary?

 

Conclusion

Student's role:

should be organized and committed with the process
should be motivated
needs organizational and time management skills
prior knowledge in basic computer science is not required

Teacher's role:

should be committed with the process
faculty did not change their role from the one they assume in the traditional classroom model
a period of adaptation-training is required

Course material:

must be enriched with laboratory experiences and simulation
must be reduced and reformulated so as to adapt to Distance Education

Institution:

needs economic incentives to continue to develop web-base learning tools
authors need to secure recognition of their work
world-wide institutions must establish a organizational structure to develop collaborative Distance Education

 

Conclusion

Virtual University is not simply technology incorporation, but a comprehensive new learning process.

The health sciences' curriculum is increasingly adapting its format to emerging technologies. Its implementation depends basically on the collaboration of the institution, devotion of teachers and students to adopt this new type of learning.

 

Faculty and Team

Accioly, Elizabeth
Anção, Meide S.
Alchorne, Maurício M. A.
Baptista, Renato V.
Bernardo, Viviane
Beninga, Tânia de M.
Chern, Maria Susan
Christo, Keith C. de
Cuppari, Lilian
Espósito, Salete Regina
Franceschini, Sylvia do Carmo C.
Gimenez, Reinaldo
Giusti, Rafael Vinicius D.
Lee, Jae Min
Monteiro, Érica de O.
Morais, Tânia Beninga de
Nader, Helena B.
Oyafuso, Sandra
Paiva, Paulo B.
Pavesi, Danilo
Petri, Valéria
Priore, Silvia Eloiza
Ramos, Mônica P.
Ribeiro, Marco Antonio G.
Rotta, Osmar
Salvador, Maria Elisabete
Sigulem, Daniel
Sigulem, Dirce Maria
Silva, Edna A.
Smith, Marília C.
Tasso, Eletéa B.
Zanardo, Renata P.


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