Growing mandate for e-Learning in medical colleges

Rohit Kumar“With greater emphasis on the use of ICT-based education practices by the government and regulatory bodies, medical education in India is set to adopt technology-driven learning in a big way,“ says   Elsevier Health Sciences Managing Director (South Asia) Rohit Kumar

Please tell us about the online education market in India? How do you perceive the growth of this market over the next five years?

Online education has become an emerging trend around the world with technology-enabled teaching-learning practices replacing the traditional blackboard and chalk method of teaching at a fast pace. Reports suggest that the online education market in India is expected to double itself over the next three years. In a recent study, ASSOCHAM indicated that the education sector will attract a whopping $1 billion investment from private equity and venture capital firms. A majority of this investment will be made in technology-enabled education initiatives.

How relevant are online teaching learning practices for medical education?

India has a dismal doctor-patient ratio of 0.5 doctors per 1,000 population as compared to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended doctor patient ratio of one doctor per 1,000 population. To achieve the prescribed ratio by 2028, India needs to set up 187 new medical colleges during the 12th and 13th plans. However, the current growth rate of medical institutions is a meager five percent, year-on-year.

An extensive research conducted by Elsevier indicated some weak links in the growth of this market. The first is the availability of trained faculty and support staff (which have a long gestation period: 11 years for faculty and up to five years for the support staff) for the new medical colleges. Secondly, there is a huge lack of adequate cadavers/animals/patients for practical exposure. Considering these structural problems, there is a greater need for adoption of alternate solutions for increasing the efficiency of the existing human resources by use of digital products to enhance teaching and learning of theoretical and practical skills.

The Medical Council of India has also directed all medical colleges to use  information technology for teaching medicine by setting up eClassrooms, eLibraries, and providing access to eContent. There is a growing mandate for eLearning and many college libraries now have computer terminals with eJournals.

How can eLearning courses benefit medical students?

Medical students find it difficult to understand and visualise important concepts
and acquire practical skills because of increasing class strengths, decreasing teacher-student ratio, and limited practice opportunities.

The integration of clinical and non-clinical topics is another major challenge. eLearning products such as Clinical Learning, launched by Elsevier, serve the students by clearing important and difficult concepts along with giving enough exposure towards practical skills. It is a one stop solution that caters to both practical as well as clinical needs of students. It also allows them to access and review credible and interactive modules anytime at a self controlled pace.

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