Internet-based virtual classroom and educational management software enhance students' didactic and clinical experiences in perfusion education programs

J Extra Corpor Technol. 2004 Sep;36(3):235-9.


A challenge faced by many university-based perfusion education (PE) programs is the need for student clinical rotations at hospital locations that are geographically disparate from the main educational campus. The problem has been addressed through the employment of distance-learning environments. The purpose of this educational study is to evaluate the effectiveness of this teaching model as it is applied to PE. Web-based virtual classroom (VC) environments and educational management system (EMS) software were implemented independently and as adjuncts to live, interactive Internet-based audio/video transmission from classroom to classroom in multiple university-based PE programs. These Internet environments have been used in a variety of ways including: 1) forum for communication between the university faculty, students, and preceptors at clinical sites, 2) didactic lectures from expert clinicians to students assigned to distant clinical sites, 3) small group problem-based-learning modules designed to enhance students analytical skills, and 4) conversion of traditional face-to-face lectures to asynchronous learning modules. Hypotheses and measures of student and faculty satisfaction, clinical experience, and learning outcomes are proposed, and some early student feedback was collected. For curricula that emphasize both didactic and clinical education, the use of Internet-based VC and EMS software provides significant advancements over traditional models. Recognized advantages include: 1) improved communications between the college faculty and the students and clinical preceptors, 2) enhanced access to a national network of clinical experts in specialized techniques, 3) expanded opportunity for student distant clinical rotations with continued didactic course work, and 4) improved continuity and consistency of clinical experiences between students through implementation of asynchronous learning modules. Students recognize the learning efficiency of on-line information presentation but still prefer the traditional face-to-face classroom environment. Traditional paradigms impose limitations that are rooted in dependence upon the students and instructors being physically located in the same place at the same time. These represents significant impediments for PE programs that use geographically separate clinical sites to provide clinical experience. Historically this has led to a disintegration of the presentation of theory, and a reduction in the quantity or quality of clinical experience opportunities. New PE models help to eliminate limitations and improve the quality of education especially in the face of economic challenges. Perfusion education students and faculty will have to work together to find computer-based offerings that are equivalent to traditional classroom methods.

MeSH terms

  • Allied Health Personnel / education*
  • Clinical Clerkship
  • Data Collection
  • Education, Distance*
  • Educational Technology / methods*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Myocardial Reperfusion / education*
  • Myocardial Revascularization / education*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Software
  • Teaching / methods
  • Universities
  • User-Computer Interface*