The design of distance-learning programmes and the role of content experts in their production

Med Teach. 2003 Mar;25(2):182-7. doi: 10.1080/0142159031000092599.


This paper describes an effective and efficient approach to the production of distance-learning materials in which content experts, editors and instructional designers collaborate. The approach is based on the development of a clearly defined agreed educational strategy and the use of a template for the programme. This allows the content experts to assemble the first draft of the programme in an appropriate format, with further revisions being carried out by the educationists in collaboration with the content editor. A task-based approach was adopted in the programme and a two-column layout incorporating nine different types of educational enhancements was used. Useful educational strategies which should be considered in the development of the template for a distance learning programme can be categorized into the following three areas: (1). interactivity enhancements including questions posed, think points for reflection, and case scenarios linking theory to practice; (2). enrichment enhancements including illustrations, readings and quotes from experts; (3). action/practice enhancements highlighting the application of portfolio building--provides useful advice on topics covered as they relate to the AFRC examination, and encourages trainees to apply their knowledge. The use made of the enhancements varies in the different modules. This project was challenging and ambitious but our objectives were met with all 39 authors satisfactorily producing the 42 SELECT Units.

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care
  • Education, Distance*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • General Surgery / education
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Models, Educational
  • Programmed Instructions as Topic
  • Scotland
  • Teaching Materials*