Asynchronous web-based learning, a practical method to enhance teaching in emergency medicine

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Objective: To compare medical knowledge acquisition among emergency medicine (EM) residents who attend weekly core content lectures with those absent but asynchronously viewing the same lectures in a Web-based electronic platform. Subjects and Methods: During the study period all EM residents attending or absent from weekly educational conferences were given a quiz on the covered material. During Phase 1, absentees were not given supplemental educational content for missed lectures. During Phase 2, absentees were sent a link to an online multimedia module containing an audiovisual recording of the actual missed lecture with presentation slides. Scores between attendees and absentees during both phases were compared using a repeated-measures analysis to evaluate the effect of the supplemental online module on knowledge acquisition. Results: Thirty-nine EM residents (equally distributed in postgraduate years 1-4) were studied during a 15-week period. Overall and after adjusting for sex and postgraduate year level, both lecture attendance (b=27; 95% confidence interval, 22-32; p<0.0001) and Web-based learning (b=32; 95% confidence interval, 26-37; p<0.0001) were associated with significant increases in test scores compared with residents who were absent and not receiving supplemental Web-based learning. Neither the self-perceived level of mastery with the lecture topic nor the amount of reported reading was found to be a predictor of test scores. Conclusions: In an EM residency program, asynchronous Web-based learning may result in medical knowledge acquisition similar to or better than attending traditional core content lectures. The percentage of curriculum delivery by asynchronous learning that may be used to achieve overall terminal learning objectives in medical knowledge acquisition requires further study. Copyright © 2013, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2013.

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