Critical review of the uses of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) in distance undergraduate medical education

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


This review assessed how TEL is implemented in undergraduate medical curricula and how it is best used to support distance learning. This aim was significant during the COVID-19 pandemic and remains relevant given the trend towards decentralised clinical education and the need to support learning in remote and rural locations.

Summary Of Work
A critical review was conducted to answer the following three research questions:
1) How is distance TEL incorporated into medical school curricula and is this affected by curricular format?
2) What are medical students’ perceptions of TEL in relation to distance learning?
3) What is the effectiveness of TEL in relation to distance learning?
67 original research articles published 2011-2021 were subjected to title and abstract screening to assess their suitability, and 14 were deemed valid for inclusion after full text screening. These articles were then quality assessed using JBI checklists.

Summary Of Results
The articles described five broad categories of TEL implementation: e-lecturing, online small group teaching, online clinical activities, asynchronous non-clinical online activities, and as part of blended curricula.
Entirely virtual activities were positively received by students but viewed as comparatively inferior to in-person learning. Blended learning was the exception to this, as the combination of in-person and online learning was considered superior to purely virtual or purely in-person learning.
Evidence for the effectiveness of TEL is varied. Blended learning is reported to be the most effective use of e-learning. However, other virtual learning activities show only mixed success pre-clinically and no reports exist of effective clinical phase education which takes place in entirely virtual settings.

Discussion And Conclusion
This critical review suggests that blended learning, i.e., a combination of TEL and traditional in-person learning, may be the best method of implementing technology enhanced learning in clinical and pre-clinical medical education. This is because it is not only perceived positively by students, but most effectively enables their learning and may be unique to every individual university curriculum.

Take Home Messages
Medical schools should consider pursuing a blended approach to learning by introducing learning technologies into traditional in-person sessions and vice versa. The combination of a return to pre-COVID delivery and the existence of virtual resources developed during the pandemic may represent an opportunity for medical educators who wish to implement blended learning. Those who wish to innovate blended learning by incorporating remote and technologically enhanced moieties to their undergraduate curricula should aim to do so in keeping with their students’ developing learning needs while maintaining their unique approaches to teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2023


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