The Role of Technology
Oceania University of Medicine provides its medical education program utilizing an online curriculum and the best of today’s e-learning capabilities.
The school’s primary curriculum delivery vehicle is an established web-based education software/course content program called Moodle (www.moodle.org). OUM has tailored Moodle to maximize efficiency and function as a teaching tool, while remaining user-friendly for students. In addition to presenting the weekly problem-based learning (PBL) case studies, exhibits, and assessments, Moodle
Reinforcing its commitment to educational technology, OUM also utilizes Collaborate, a software platform which allows for online learning and student-teacher interaction in a live, real-time classroom environment. Collaborate is specifically suited to academic institutions that incorporate distance education into their curriculum programs. The introduction of Collaborate’s virtual classrooms has provided an important and invaluable mode of interaction, namely real-time lectures and classroom discussion, as well as the opportunity to record lectures for future reference.
Highly qualified instructors guide students through the online learning process, utilizing small student discussion groups in regular tutorial sessions, focusing on intensive problem-based learning, self-instruction, and formative assessment. Through the use of e-learning management systems, students gain access to a vast amount of information, instruction, and communication in a virtual learning environment. PBL also integrates the basic sciences with clinical content from the very beginning of the program. Curriculum content and delivery, utilizing Moodle and Collaborate, are continuously monitored by medical scholars from Australia, the US, and Samoa.
Good computer skills and a high comfort level with online communication are essential. All students are required to have a desktop or laptop computer using a Windows XP or higher operating system, an up-to-date anti-virus program, and an e-mail account that is checked regularly. E-mail is the primary communication mode between students and faculty/staff. All students receive a University e-mail address upon completion of the first module. Students are advised against using a MAC due to interface problems with Moodle.
Since so much work is done online, OUM's e-librarian works closely with students to be sure they are comfortable searching the Internet and utilizing the plethora of resources available, both within the OUM e-library system and on the Internet in its entirety. Students receive an Information Literacy Assignment during their first module, to be completed before beginning the second (first distance learning course), which evaluates each student's research skills and understanding of online resources. A tutorial also instructs students on search engines, databases, evaluating search results, and developing additional skills to make the educational experience more efficient and comprehensive. The library assignment is submitted directly to the e-librarian who reviews the findings and helps students refine their techniques.
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