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Acad Med. 1995 Sep;70(9):818-21.

Medical education and computer literacy: learning about, through, and with computers.

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  • 1Department of Medical Education, Southern Illinois University, Springfield, USA.


The call for medical students to become literate in the uses of information technology has become a familiar refrain. Over ten years ago, the Association of American Medical College's GPEP Report recommended that medical schools incorporate into their curricula training in the use of such technology; however, in the intervening decade, discouragingly little progress has been made toward meeting this goal, even though the need for such changes has grown more compelling. The author contends that teaching medical students to be computer-literate will not only enable them to use information technology competently, but will foster their capacity for "termless learning," which involves the ability to assess the adequacy of one's knowledge, to efficiently redress identified deficiencies, and to direct one's ongoing learning well in a rapidly changing world. He contends that by exposing medical students early in their training to the vast profusion of electronic information resources, medical educators can help produce a generation of practitioners who have a different orientation toward knowledge and learning. The author then assesses three different approaches to computer-literacy training: learning about computers, learning through computers (i.e., using computers as tools for instructional delivery), and learning with computers (i.e., requiring students to use computers in their work on a day-to-day basis). He concludes that none of the approaches is sufficient unto itself, but learning with computers offers the most powerful means of fostering the forms of termless learning that students will need to practice medicine in the future.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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