Medical Education 2012: 46: 1063–1073
CONTEXT Computer-assisted learning (CAL) in medical education has been shown to be effective in the achievement of learning outcomes, but requires the input of significant resources and development time. This study examines the key elements and processes that led to the widespread adoption of a CAL program in undergraduate medical education, the Computer-assisted Learning in Paediatrics Program (CLIPP). It then considers the relative importance of elements drawn from existing theories and models for technology adoption and other studies on CAL in medical education to inform the future development, implementation and testing of CAL programs in medical education.
METHODS The study used a mixed-methods explanatory design. All paediatric clerkship directors (CDs) using CLIPP were recruited to participate in a self-administered, online questionnaire. Semi-structured interviews were then conducted with a random sample of CDs to further explore the quantitative results.
RESULTS Factors that facilitated adoption included CLIPP’s ability to fill gaps in exposure to core clinical problems, the use of a national curriculum, development by CDs, and the meeting of CDs’ desires to improve teaching and student learning. An additional facilitating factor was that little time and effort were needed to implement CLIPP within a clerkship. The quantitative findings were mostly corroborated by the qualitative findings.
CONCLUSIONS This study indicates issues that are important in the consideration and future exploration of the development and implementation of CAL programs in medical education. The promise of CAL as a method of enhancing the process and outcomes of medical education, and its cost, increase the need for future CAL funders and developers to pay equal attention to the needs of potential adopters and the development process as they do to the content and tools in the CAL program. Important questions that remain on the optimal design, use and integration of CAL should be addressed in order to adequately inform future development. Support is needed for studies that address these critical areas.