This is an advanced technique for programs who have experience with Problem-Based Learning and have access to informatics support. The implementation and grading requires formally-trained faculty and staff.
Problem-Based Learning has many definitions, and is often conflated with Case-Based Learning. For the purposes of this manual, Problem-Based Learning (PBL) will be defined as (1) Open-Ended, (2) Student-Directed, and (3) Faculty-Augmented discussion of any problems related to an educational program—in this case, dental education. Case-Based Learning (CBL) will be defined as (1) Faculty-Directed, (2) Single-Disclosed or Progressively-Disclosed, (3) Clinical Case-Focused work that will result in a final document for grading relative to a rubric for quality. Using these definitions, it is possible to use PBL to support CBL, and it is also possible to use each technique independently.
The second important aspect of PBL and CBL is technology. In the early 1990s, there were not computers or e-books, so the implementation of these techniques centered around group meetings with paper, textbooks, and using the library stacks. Many health science educators remember how difficult it was to scale PBL/CBL when it took so long to answer the questions between sessions. PBL was simply not scalable AND did not happen after hours. Currently the technology works to our advantage with instant discussion technologies (Texts and Micro-Blogs) and huge resources available using networked resources. The groups can “meet” asynchronously and the students can ask a question at any time of the day or night. All faculty members can participate and answer questions. The technology allows for scale and a richer participation in a larger percentage of the curriculum with a higher level of integration.
The third important aspect is early use in the curriculum. In older models, PBL was used in the third or fourth years. In this model, at East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine, we start on the first day of class and run through the last day of clinic. We want to teach students that problem solving skills are developed slowly over the entire curriculum.
There will be a separate manual to discuss the implementation of CBL with portfolios. THIS MANUAL FOCUSES ON PBL IMPLEMENTATION WITH MICRO-BLOGS. This document is intended to provide a step-by-step “how-to” manual for integrating micro-blog-facilitated problem-based learning. This implementation was accomplished at the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine for the pre-doctoral DMD program, but the techniques are applicable to any complex educational program that requires the synthesis of complex knowledge to implement integrated applications—such as clinical care of patients.
Student testimonials are included at the end of the manual.