Interview with...

Lecturer of the course Clinical Epidemiology

I think distance learning is really the future of education

I’m Arno Hoes, born in 1958, and I’m a clinical epidemiologist with a background in medical science. I am professor of Clinical Epidemiology and General Practice and chair of the board at the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care of the University Medical Center in Utrecht. I have been teaching for over 20 years. One of the courses that I teach is ‘Clinical Epidemiology’. I am also co-author of the book ‘Clinical Epidemiology. Principles, methods and applications for Clinical Research’ and one of the main coordinators of the course ‘Clinical Epidemiology’.

The course ‘Clinical Epidemiology’

The course ‘Clinical Epidemiology’ is a course that I have taught through Elevate. This course is meant to educate participants about the principles and practice of clinical epidemiology. As teaching methods we used a mix of individual- and group assignments supported with web lectures, wiki’s, online debates and self-assessment questions. I noticed that the nature of the participants in this type of course is different than the regular F2F courses that I usually teach. Most of these participants were not fulltime students, but working professionals, not able to attend the regular F2F course because of their other responsibilities. The distance learning course provided them with the opportunity to participate in this course. Participants had little time, but were highly motivated.

Distance learning via Elevate

This was actually the first course I ever completely taught through distance learning and I’m very positive about this experience! At first, I was unsure if all the components of the live course could be translated to an online course. But Elevate provided excellent assistance during the development and execution of the course. One example is the smart new method to organize an online debate, which I found very useful. The students were also very pleased, which I think is an important measurement for success in education. Learning methods are more flexible and often easier to adapt to the level of the participant. If you aren’t concentrated for a few minutes, you can often rewind and watch, read or do it again. In contrary to the regular course, participants can spend more time on certain parts that they need more time for. I’m used to seeing my students face to face when I teach, so this was a very different experience. You can’t interact with them as directly as in a classroom. But besides that, I think distance learning is really the future of education. My advice to future participants is that it’s good to realize that although the course is very flexible, the amount of time you spend is eventually the same as with a regular F2F course.

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