Blended learning proves beneficial for radiology education

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A combination of face-to-face and e-learning education, or blended learning, produces better results than programs with a single method, according to a new study published by the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Blending learning, the authors explained, is designed to “support and improve meaningful interaction between students, teachers, and electronic resources.”

“Over the years, blended learning programs have become increasing popular in many areas, especially in medicine,” wrote lead author Andres Vasquez, MD, with Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá University Hospital in Bogota, and colleagues. “Advantages offered by these types of programs include the ease of access to reliable and useful information, flexibility of schedules, spaces for live discussion and discussion with experts through the web (collaborative learning), and decreased costs of educational programs.”

Researchers established a five-week program on breast imaging for 244 radiologists by utilizing the blended learning method. Learning objectives and the instruction plan were developed by “an expert leader in breast imaging.” The program was developed using a content management system, to centralize the contents of the program, a “boot camp” for lectures and a PACS simulator that simulates the radiologists’ experience on a regular workday and gauges interpretive skills.

The students completed both pre- and post-program examinations and a satisfaction survey. The pre-course exam consisted of 30 multiple-choice questions that covered the content of the program and the post-program exam consisted of 40 questions, including clinical cases with associated diagnostic images.

There was a significant increase of 126 percent in knowledge, pre-program to post-program.

“Multiple studies have shown that training programs that combine e-learning and face-to-face education produce better results than those programs with a single method,” the authors wrote. “The results of this study support these findings, with changes in knowledge being statistically significant with a 126.8 percent increase after participation in the blended learning program.”

Of the participants, 96 percent were very satisfied with the blended learning experience, and almost 98 percent of participants said the blended learning methodology was a “useful alternative” to conventional continuing education courses.

The researchers noted a content retention assessment should be conducted a year after the program to evaluate if the radiologists continue to retain the information they learned.