Concluding week – future perspectives

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” Bill Gates 1996

I believe this quote can be applied to e-learning, a term that existed since 1999 but the concept of distance learning has been around for centuries.

This excellent course have in different ways presented a lot of advantages and possibilities regarding e-learning. The most important thing for me is how to use online tools to deliver content in an attractive way that I could not have imagine ten years ago. However, I think that I after this course overestimate the changes that will occur in e-learning within the next couple of years and how it will change me as a teacher. The previous sentence is a compliment to this course and the work of my own and other PBL-groups

I believe that to develop as a teacher and learn more about e-learning it is important to gain experience and try out different techniques but also learn techniques and strategies from pedagogical courses like the ONL.

Medical education is very visual, related to practical learning and tacit knowledge. Most of it can at the moment not be replaced by e-learning but this course have inspired me how to use e-learning in medical education for the flipped classroom. I feel that I after ONL gained basic knowledge to prepare the students with online lectures/content and make the students collaborate in online discussions as a part of blended learning. A direct result of this course is that I will use PeerWise as a part of the preparation for my next course. The idea is to let the students to create course related assessment questions, and to answer and discuss questions created by their peers before the course starts.

Enormous amount of resources and time are spent on e-learning but where are the evidence that it is more effective than traditional forms of teaching? The concept of e-learning is also too broad, there is a huge difference between this course and a MOOC with 100,000 students. This has to be considered in the discussion and evaluation of the benefits and drawbacks of  e-learning. Unless relevant outcomes are systematically measured by those using e-learning in medical education, we will never be able to tell apart successes and failures.

I probably underestimate the changes that will occur in e-learning the next ten years. But due to the increasing role of technology in facilitating the communication of medical information, it seems inevitable that new concepts as smart glasses using virtual and augmented reality will have a role to play in medical education at a near point in the future.




Flexible and Mobile Learning

Estoy aprendiendo español.

It started in high school, and even if I was quite successful in my Spanish exams I forgot most of it after a week and everything after a couple of years. My girlfriend and now wife since 15 years is a native Spanish speaker and my children are bilingual. Unfortunately passive learning of languages does not work for me, even though I understand quite a lot. I have realized that for me there is no quick path to mastering Spanish, but there is a fast track to failing: a lack of practice.

Out of classroom language learning is not a new concept but with the introduction of free online programs students have a new tool.

There are obvious advantages to these kind of programs, you can practice and take classes from any location and many of them are self-paced which means you can learn at any time of the day in small pieces. Another benefit is that it allows the student to take as much time as they need to complete the work.

One disadvantage is that the lack of self-dicipline that prevented me to acquire a deeper understanding in high school is in my case still present. But the gamification of many programs including Duolingo, one of the most popular self-paced language programs, is addictive and hopefully prevents the student getting frustrated and give up. In theory learning Spanish becomes an alternative when you want to kill some time instead of wasting time on Candy Crush. A study (sponsored by Duolingo) claims that for a beginner, 34 hours of Duolingo equals the progress for students taking a college semester of Spanish.

I live in Uruguay and English is associated with the privileged class but with the introduction of self-paced mobile learning everybody have a an affordable way to learn basic English. However, I think you need more tools than a free online program to take the user to a full fluency level. To understand the nuances of a language you need the benefits of blended learning with the interaction and help of an experienced tutor. My experience is that individualized online programs designed to mirror classroom courses are almost as expensive as a classic language school.

However, with the massive data these free self-paced learning programs are generating there is a constant technological and pedagogical development that hopefully will help me in my life-long learning process, even though my wife and kids do not believe that it is possible for me to be fluent in Spanish.


  • Stovicek, Helping foreign language learners get the most from self-paced language learning software, Journal of Second and Multiple Language Acquisition, 2014
  • Vessels and Grego, Duelingo  Effectiveness Study, 2012