Context and objectives: To describe the Computerized Obstetrics and Gynecology Automated Learning Anaalysis (KOALAtrade mark), a multicentre, Internet-based learning portfolio and to determine its effects on residents' perception of their self-directed learning abilities.
Methods: The KOALA programme allows residents to record their obstetrical, surgical, ultrasound, and ambulatory patient encounters and to document critical incidents of learning or elements of surprise that arose during these encounters. By prompting the student to reflect on these learning experiences, KOALA encourages residents to articulate questions which can be directly pursued through hypertext links to evidence-based literature. Four Canadian residency training programmes participated in the pilot project, from February to May 1997, using a dynamic relational database with a central server. All participants completed the Self-directed Learning Readiness Scale and a learning habits questionnaire. The impact of the KOALA programme on residents' perception of their self-directed learning abilities was measured by comparing KOALA-naive schools (schools 2, 3, and 4) with school 1 (exposed to the KOALA prototype for 1 year). Ordered variables were compared using the Mann-Whitney U test and continuous variables with the Student t test (statistical significance P < 0. 05).
Results: During the study period, 7049 patient and 1460 critical incidents of learning were recorded by 41 residents in the four participating universities. Residents at the exposed school (school 1) had a significantly higher perception of their self-directed learning (P < 0.05) and believed their future learning was less likely to be from continuing medical education (P < 0.028), textbooks (P < 0.04), and didactic lectures (P < 0.011) and would be derived from a learning portfolio with online resources.
Conclusion: This Internet-based, multi-user, multicentre learning portfolio has a significant effect on residents' perception of their self-directed learning abilities.