Educating Rural Med Students

Daniel Lorence PhD, JD Associate Professor, Chief Technology Officer, College of Osteopathic Medicine at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) recently announced that NYIT has implemented a landmark cross-border multimedia medical education program with Arkansas State University

NYIT is providing the medical students in rural Arkansas a complete medical degree (DO) from New York using real-time streaming classroom connectivity and discussion. All the lectures are digitally recorded incorporating online student discussions, closed social media sites, integration of iPads, telehealth training, textbooks, case studies, and offers searchable digital media online.

Future additions will provide for the integration of program specific mobile learning applications, HIPAA secured survey capabilities, and online electronic medical record training and simulation.

An initial challenge was that the Arkansas campus medical education addition was designated not as an independent medical school but was to be managed as one program in two locations. This meant that although uniform curriculum technology support and consistency in teaching was essential as it has to be provided from over 1,000 miles away. Another challenge was to promote using technology in osteopathic medicine since the field traditionally emphasizes hands-on techniques and uses a more personal touch.

With little time for review and testing of the most popular commercial systems used in medical training, NYIT ‘s College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) depends on a scalable open source Moodle-based program management site for multi-site scheduling and posting of information which can be quickly expanded with add-on learning management tools.

The Moodle Open Source Learning Platform is seen as enhancing existing learning environments, and providing an e-learning tool with a wide range of standard and innovative features to include multi-location calendars and gradebooks.

NYIT/COM leaders soon learned that Moodle can serve as a cross border virtual learning environment that can be used not only in educational and medical training environments but is often needed in several remote settings.

Another implementation challenge was to decide how to record, store, and transmit lectures, and demonstrations for students at both locations. Continuing the preference for open source solutions, the implementation team examined available options, including a YouTube-based platform. The team finally chose a hosted paid video management service which also promotes and supports open source solutions.

To maximize student involvement in relatively large, remotely managed classroom settings, students were able to participate via an interactive classroom polling network. When a poll is displayed to a class, students are able to submit responses by visiting a specific web site by sending text messages to a short code number, or use Twitter to indicate the option the student selected.

In the case of text messaging, their mobile carrier routed their text messages to dedicated web servers where the responses were counted and displayed in real-time on screen in the classroom. Advanced users could also text comments to a presentation, text questions to a presenter, and respond via the web.

For advance students, resources were provided so they could generate and communicate information related to their career interests. After consideration, the Mahara ePortfolio system was chosen and verified as capable of being networked together as well as having single sign-on.

For student assessment and feedback, a one stop platform was needed for online exam creation, delivery, and reporting. So by using a cloud-based platform, technical issues were outsourced to a commercial provider thereby enabling faculty and students taking exams to use the software seamlessly from any location on any device.

For more information, email Dr. Daniel Lorence at or call 516-686-3732.


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