16 January 2010

Online Medical School Coming Soon

High quality lectures, notes, texts, and other learning materials are freely available online to the aspiring medical homeschooler. The only thing lacking to qualify an ambitious and determined student to pass the basic sciences medical boards is to have the material organised properly, to provide an online forum for medical homeschoolers to interact with each other and with more medically knowledgeable persons, and to provide a method of testing the knowledge learned. All of those things will come.

There are even methods of providing expert lectures and training in real time -- using Skype and Dimdim.  Here is how:
Table 1: Ten Cookbook Steps
1) Make sure you have a relatively recent (3-4 years) old desktop or laptop PC or less, hardwired to a DSL or cable broadband internet connection. WiFi may not work. FIOS would be a dream! Macs  have worked as an attendee computer, and they have worked as a host computer also.
2) Make sure you use the MSIE (Explorer) browser. Firefox will work, Chrome will not work. Safari has worked.
3) Download the latest version of Skype (currently 4.1), and learn how to use it. Have one of your of your student attendees CALL the entire group, including you, preferably the student with the fastest internet connection. It is important that the Skype initiator be DIFFERENT from the Dimdim  presenter, for bandwidth preservation purposes. Having a DIRECT microphone input for the presenter, rather than an open mike, might improve quality, and having the student attendees DISCONNECT their mikes (TOTAL disconnect, switch off or pink plug unplugged) while not talking IS NECESSARY! Of course they can switch ON to talk anytime. If you do not feel comfortable using Skype, this project will fail.
4) Go to www.dimdim.com and register for their FREE service option, and then click the button to HOST a meeting.
5) Make sure in Dimdim, under "Preferences", that you set the audiovisual option to "NONE"
under the "Features" tab in Preferences, and switch off the "Auto Microphone" and "Auto HandsFree" options also, then "SAVE" these options. These three items are the only differences you will need from the default settings. Failure to do this will have catastrophic results.
6) When the Dimdim meeting starts, it will prompt you to select one of these options:
Select the "COMPUTER SCREEN" [ORANGE] option.
7) Then, when you are finally in the classroom by yourself, you will see your Dimdim user name on the top of the Dimdim window (which is your "ROOM NAME"). If you click on this "Room Name" it will automatically "copy" the URL of the meeting into your clipboard.
8) "Paste" this URL into your multiuser Skype 4.1 window for all your attendees or students to see, whom you have already been talking to (voice) freely, so they can all click on this link and enter the meeting room in a few seconds. They should best be using the MSIE browser also, and Firefox might be  OK too, but Chrome will currently fail.
9) Once they are all in the room, start your class, remembering that EVERYTHING you now see on your computer screen, they will also see, e.g., powerpoints, web pages, OFFline virtual microscopy viewers (online java viewers, like the one at the University of Iowa, may work, but it will probably not  allow the presenter to navigate the microscope for the students, and they will have to do it by  themselves). There is a way of fixing this, but it is horribly complex. OFFLINE viewers however, such as "Live Pix Deluxe" displaying FPX files, WILL work fine! All students will hear you and each other perfectly clearly.
10) So far, I have tried this technique dozens of times and hosted classes on 4 different continents simultaneously (not South America, Australia, or Antarctica), with up to 10 separate student attendees. IT WORKS ALL THE TIME, as long as all participants are using the latest Skype (4.1 is best), the latest MSIE, and a hardwire connection to a DSL or cable internet connection, NOT WiFi. Macs have worked as attendees and hosts. WiFi connections might be unstable. I can EASILY increase my class size to 20. Not a single student, so far, has had a technical problem, after we laid down the ground rules! _PDFMedSchoolPathologyPDF

Such low-cost, high throughput methods of teleconferencing lectures could allow one lecture location to service an entire world of students -- interactively.  Here are the lecture notes in pathology and histology from the Skype - using professor above.  Here are his YouTube videos on the same topics, of about 10 minutes length apiece.

It is possible to prepare a student to pass the clinical section of medical school boards without ever touching a human patient, using online means.  But in order to effectively teach the second half of medical school, one would require actual human patients. More on how to do that, and how to use simulators to work around the problem, in later posts.

Course lectures for a subset of medical school classes

Human Anatomy dissection lectures

Another subset of medical school classes

Extensive list of online free medical texts

Medical Matrix free online textbooks

University of Iowa Virtual Hospital

Medical Student.com

Nice set of online medical ebooks from ncbi

Free books 4 doctors online (for anyone)

If you think you may be interested in going to a bricks and mortar medical school, check out these pre-med courses to get ahead of the competition.

Or, consider going to a Caribbean medical school, mon!

It can be a challenge sometimes to transfer from a Caribbean school to the US or Canada, but some friends of Al Fin made the transition with minimal angst.  Al Fin often regrets not having gone to a Caribbean school himself.   Alaska is nice, but the scuba diving is much better in the islands.  ;-)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share


Blogger Scott Freeman Sitecore MVP said...

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I mean for basic checkups and PA type of doctor work I think an online education may be OK, but if a doctor is operating on me I want to know with some level of certainty that he/she is properly trained through normal channels.

I do see this as a way to increase medical training in poor countries. Offering virtual classrooms for learning is a nice option over no training at all.

Wedding photographer, Family portrait photography,Kid portraits

Saturday, 16 January, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The online courses are good substitutes for the classroom's lectures. Probably they can be better because there less distractions and the best teachers can be used to teach to much more people in the same time.
Just now any student is not required to see or touch a patient to obtain his/her M.D.
This is what internship is for.
First you learn the theory then you learn how is the real job. Then you try to specialize, if you survive the impact.

I bet there are or will be ways to simulate (probably not at home) a patient in the minimal details, so people will be able to learn from simulators what to do, what work and what not.

Sunday, 17 January, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Steve: Surgical simulators (some that incorporate haptic feedback) have been shown to improve surgical technique when learning new procedures. Practise makes perfect, and being able to practise on a simulator before cutting a human will be as helpful as a pilot being able to practise all emergency scenarios in a flight simulator long before the birds fly into the engine.

EP: Students could pass part I (basic science) and part II (clinical) of boards without seeing a human patient.

But ideally, the medical students' minds need to wrap the concepts they are learning around real people and real experiences. The human mind remembers narratives best.

Curriculum planners at Al Fin University Online School of Medicine are devising solutions to all of these problems and objections.

Life-sized simulators are used for learning to give physical exams, for practising delivery of neonates, for practising all types of procedures, etc.

Think of a life-sized sex doll (either male or female). Give it the ability to express a full range of symptoms and to simulate a full range of physical signs. Give it internal organs that can simulate tumours, murmurs, tenderness, inflammation, hemorrhage, and so on.

Then, at 2 in the morning when the student is tired from practising the learning of medicine, he or she can relieve their built-up stresses without waking or disturbing their spouse or significant other.

At Al Fin U.O.S.O.M., we have to think of everything. ;-)

Sunday, 17 January, 2010  
Blogger Demented Brains said...

It's great to read how you re using Dimdim to teach medicine to students across the world. I have never seen more detailed instructions on how to use Dimdim, precisely the way you would like to use it! I truly feel that now that motto of Dimdim - to democratize collaboration - has been met with this post.

Trideep | Dimdim
e: trideep@dimdim.com
twitter: @dimdim | facebook: http://dimdim.com/facebook

Experience the Dimdim Live Webinar! Register at:

Monday, 18 January, 2010  

Post a Comment

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts