Summary: Despite the widely use of educational technologies, how they could affect medical students’ academic performance in student-centred curricula remains unclear. Besides emerging technologies in science, the recent breakthrough technology in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality, Chatbots, and artificial intelligence (AI) are taking their leaps in medical education. Description: Reports have shown that medical students are accustomed to the use of internet-based technology for their self-directed learning, such as social media [1] and YouTube [2]. E-learning platforms, as add-ons for medical education, have evolved to be mobile. Various web-based audience response systems have now been popular for in-class interactive lectures. Thus, these technologies perhaps may not be considered disruptive. Despite the widely use of these technologies, how they could affect medical students’ academic performance in student-centred curricula remains unclear. A recent study showed that the use of social media is not associated with Grade Point Average among medical students [3].
Along with the above-mentioned technologies, other advancements, involving either scientific discovery or educational purposes, have been progressing at an accelerating rate during recent years. An example is the advancement of genome-wide and epigenome-wide association studies, and genome editing, which drives the trend of patient care to the so-called “precision medicine”. Keeping up-to-date knowledge in science and medicine is a crucial professional characteristic of physicians. Medical teachers, especially at the preclinical level, may put these loads of information into the courses to ensure students’ achievement in their subjects. Trying to add knowledge derived from these scientific discoveries into teaching may lead to a ‘content-overload curriculum’ that may, in turn, reverses the trend of learning in the 21st century.
Besides emerging technologies in science, the recent breakthrough technology in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality, Chatbots, and artificial intelligence (AI) are taking their leaps in medical education, such as is the potential application of VR in histopathology teaching [4]. Although most users are satisfied with the use of the VR technology, a proportion of users disagree with its usage [4]. Another example is AI applications. Regarding the exposure of future physicians to big data of healthcare systems, risk prediction of disease, and precision molecular tools for patient treatment, a reform of medical education from information-based curriculum to AI-integrated curriculum may be required, especially for patient-centred curriculum design, which means new skills and expertise will be required for both medical students and teachers [5,6].
All of the above technologies could be disruptive to medical schools. Pros and cons of these disruptive technologies in medical education remain to be debated based on situational factors of individual medical schools. Structured research is required to show how these technologies affect students’ learning performance, both in short- and long-terms, and ultimately, quality of patient care. Medical schools may turn this challenge into an opportunity for cultivating medical students for the future inevitable changes of their national healthcare systems.
References [1] Guraya SY, Almaramhy H, Al-Qahtani MF, Guraya SS, Bouhaimed M, Bilal B. Measuring the extent and nature of use of Social Networking Sites in Medical Education (SNSME) by university students: Results of a multi-center study. Med Educ Online. 2018 Dec;23(1):1505400. [2] Tackett S, Slinn K, Marshall T, Gaglani S, Waldman V, Desai R. Medical Education Videos for the World: An Analysis of Viewing Patterns for a YouTube Channel. Acad Med. 2018 Aug;93(8):1150-1156. [3] AlFaris E, Irfan F, Ponnamperuma G, Jamal A, Van der Vleuten C, Al Maflehi N, Al-Qeas S, Alenezi A, Alrowaished M, Alsalman R, Ahmed AMA. The pattern of social media use and its association with academic performance among medical students. Med Teach. 2018 May 6:1-6. [4] Madrigal E, Prajapati S, Hernandez-Prera JC. Introducing a Virtual Reality Experience in Anatomic Pathology Education. Am J Clin Pathol. 2016 Oct;146(4):462-8. [5] Wartman SA, Combs CD. Medical Education Must Move From the Information Age to the Age of Artificial Intelligence. Acad Med. 2018 Aug;93(8):1107-1109. [6] Kolachalama VB and Garg PS. Machine learning and medical education. npj Digital Medicine. 2018 Sep;1(1):54.