Advantages of using computers
The following are seven reasons for using a computer in medical education.
The computer is well suited to encouraging students to learn in a self controlled environment. The student has choices about what is studied and at what time. In some ways this is similar to the traditional method of students looking at slides on carousels with workbooks. Computers are generally easier to maintain than slides and other such resources.
The ability to provide interaction is the biggest advantage the computer has over other self-directed media. Interaction refers to the process of giving the computer some information and receiving some response. The ability to provide feedback distinguishes the computer from any other media without a human presence.
The computer allows for a variety of media usually combined in a meaningful manner. Media include:
High-resolution imagery, including scanned photographs and slides.
Sound, including voice tracks, heart sounds and music.
Video, including clinical procedures and 'talking heads'.
Animation, including biomedical processes.
Technology allows for retrieval of information that can be otherwise difficult to achieve. Information technology (IT) methods include:
Databases organize information. For example a database can store a variety of multiple choice questions and each student is given a different set of questions, retrieved at random from the data set.
Free-text searching provides retrieval of information based on the textual content. This can allow the student to find information of particular interest, and browse through large data sets easily and efficiently.
The computer can markedly improve student access to information, depending on the particular delivery medium and the student population. Delivery platforms like the World Wide Web provide 24-hour access to material and, given appropriate hardware and software, home access.