Not everybody is on board with online education. And there is probably no another field subject to such fierce debate over the topic than that of the medical sciences. But while the critics keep arguing over varying degrees of validity and timeliness, online learning services focusing on health keep perfecting their approaches. Blackboard’s E-Learn Magazine profiles the Medical University of South Carolina, the oldest school of its kind in the “Deep South,” which launched an ambitious plan of online learning in 2015 to cater to more than 2,500 students between the ages of 16 and 60.
If I were to qualify MUSC’s approach to the often sensitive subjects of medical training into the online arena, there is only one word: “careful.” From the start, it was clear that a digital platform cannot replace key parts of the on-site experience, especially regarding clinical practice. It was also a change to achieve a higher degree of organization, to “properly separate” subjects. This helped establish that, for medical and health care subjects, online delivery is, in fact, preferable in many cases to face-to-face instruction. Other basic elements of the offering that were never up for debate included the high level of expertise by the staff in charge of developing content and special attention to accessibility.
The successful experience of MUSC was a likely factor in the development of more daring experiments in online medical education. MEDSKL, often described as “Khan Academy for physicians,” provides a comprehensive level of medical training open for everyone, with special encouragement for subject-related faculties to make use of its high-quality content. Last month, MEDSKL founder, Dr. Sanjay Sharma, received the John Ruedy Award for Innovation in Medical Education from the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada.