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Colorectal Dis. 2011 Apr;13(4):459-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2009.02173.x.

E-learning vs lecture: which is the best approach to surgical teaching?

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Division of Surgery, School of Graduate Entry Medicine and Health, University of Nottingham Medical School, Derby, UK.



Most medical teaching is still delivered by traditional face-to-face interaction. E-learning has the potential benefit of instilling deeper learning of topics by virtue of repeated and convenient access to content presented in a range of media. We aimed to evaluate objectively the benefit of educating medical students on a common surgical topic (haemorrhoids), through a website and podcast package vs a traditional lecture.


Baseline knowledge was established by a questionnaire given to two different groups of third-year medical students starting their first clinical attachment. Group A (n = 73) was given a lecture and group B (n = 75) was asked to use a website containing text and pictures augmented by a podcast. Students were reassessed using the same preintervention questionnaire, and satisfaction was acquired from details given in a feedback form.


There was no difference in knowledge between the two groups at baseline. Both groups demonstrated significant gains in knowledge after intervention (P < 0.0001). Group B (Web/podcast) showed a significantly greater increase in knowledge (P < 0.05) than group A (lecture). Preintervention subjective assessment of knowledge rated by the students showed no difference between the groups. Both groups of students were equally satisfied with the educational method.


E-learning supplemented with a podcast results in greater knowledge acquisition when compared with a traditional lecture, without a loss of satisfaction with teaching. Using augmented Web-based educational tools reduces demands on teaching time with no decrease in quality for selected parts of the curriculum.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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