Introduction: Teaching nephrology through a traditional classroom-based approach has significant time and place limitations. In the 21st century, these limitations are more prevalent and harder to resolve. Fortunately, online teaching instruments can overcome these restrictions. On this basis, we hypothesized that a nephrology-focused online teaching instrument, programmed and maintained by nephrology educators, would result in sustained use by, and improved test scores for, nephrology fellows.
Methods: To test this hypothesis, we programmed and managed a 3-tiered Web-based teaching instrument based on the Blackboard platform. Nephrology fellows from Emory University, from the Classes of 2008-2010, were the primary subjects asked to use this instrument. We tracked their use of every teaching resource for 20 months. In addition we tested their knowledge of nephrolithiasis before and after using our interactive teaching module.
Results: Both the e-Library and Discussion forums showed increases in total use from years 1 to 2 (31% and 91% increases, respectively). When stratified by category or year in training, the changes in average monthly use of all online teaching resources were nonsignificant. Eight of 10 renal fellows showed increases in postmodule test scores (42.3% increase for the Class of 2009; 10.7% increase for the Class of 2010).
Conclusions: Our results demonstrate sustained use in all 3 tiers of the online instrument. There was a significant improvement in knowledge after using the online module. The results indicate that nephrology educators can program sustainable online teaching tools that improve fellows' knowledge of nephrology.