University of Leicester eBulletin

Leicester Warwick Medical School Select the leâ Virtual Learning Environment

April 2002

No 76

Leicester Warwick Medical School (LWMS) has selected FD Learning’s leâ as the virtual learning environment (VLE) to support its medical students. leâ will provide controlled access for students to its MBChB curriculum while tracking their progress throughout the course.

The LWMS is a joint venture between the University of Leicester (with its established Medical School which was awarded 23 points out of 24 in the Quality Assurance Agency's Subject Review) and the University of Warwick and is the first of its kind in the UK.

It is at the forefront of delivering medical training and the School has adopted new technologies to help deliver the medical curriculum outlined in the General Medical Council’s document, “Tomorrow’s Doctor”. The School needed a VLE that would integrate with existing learning materials and provide it with the flexibility needed to deliver medical training.  Learning Resources Manager, Dr Hazel Derbyshire, explains the selection process undertaken.

“The project team looked at a dozen or so systems, and we invited five or six in to give a full demonstration.  leâ was the only one that offered sufficient flexibility to meet our needs.  A recent JISC review (JTAP report 623, August 2001) stated that commercial VMLE systems were ‘not sufficiently flexible to reflect the complexity and multi-layered nature of the medical curriculum’, but that review did not look at FD Learning’s solution.  We had neither the time nor the resources to develop our own system, and we didn’t need to, because leâ fitted the bill.  The review panel included the Head of Medical Education, the Assistant Director of the University of Leicester’s Teaching and Learning Unit, the Innovations Advisor from the University of Warwick’s Centre for Academic Practice and various lecturers and IT staff, and the decision was unanimous.”

leâ provides integration with collaboration and assessment tools LWMS was already using, such as WebBoard and Question Mark.  Using these e-learning tools in a VLE gives advantages to both students and tutors. Students can get instant feedback from interactive formative testing via Question Mark, or they can view video clips of live medical procedures that cannot be demonstrated to a whole lecture theatre. Tutors can use leâ to keep track of their students’ progress through the course, helping them to identify potential problems early on.

Integration of web-based communication tools with the learning environment is also a major benefit. By 2003, the LWMS will be the largest in the country, with over 400 medical students, many of who will be on clinical placements nationally or internationally. leâ provides the secure access to learning materials these students need through a standard internet browser, without requiring the installation of any client software 

Note to editors: For further information contact Dr Hazel Derbyshire, Leicester Warwick Medical School. Tel: 0116 252 3039 Fax: 0116 223 1585

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