Content Curation and How It Impacts Medical e-Learning Programs

David BeardGroup Education, Medical Schools, Nursing Programs, Residency Programs, Uncategorized Clinical Education

what is content curation and why does it matter in e-learning.

What is Content Curation and How Does It Impact Medical e-Learning?

A Blog Series on Expert Online Education Content Curation

The language of online learning is not very precise.  People can't even agree on what to call it. Is it “e-learning,” “elearning,” or “eLearning”?  There are some 70,000 companies involved in areas of online learning, and, today, they seem to be leaning towards “e-learning.”  That imprecision in language extends to other areas of online learning - such as content curation.

What does "content curation" mean?

To some responsible for online learning, content curation is the process of collecting expert materials inside the organization to create and manage learning content.  That’s the “sift, cull, review, and update” meaning of the word.

To others, curation can mean improvement of existing courses through adding interactivity, video, and better illustrations.

The final common meaning, as well as the oldest, is the periodic review and update of existing course materials to maintain accuracy and ensure that the courses consistently reflect the best practices.  In the medical world, this is the maintenance of courses to reflect changing standards of care or changes to current guidelines. Constant expert maintenance is of extreme importance in medicine. There are few areas that change as rapidly and none as large as medical diagnostics and treatment.

The other definitions of curation can apply here as well, if you are one of the people involved in the administration of review, teaching or CME courses for your organization. 

The questions arise - How do we collect the expertise that exists in the medical, academic, or healthcare delivery system? How do we organize it, improve it, and maintain it? 

And, keep in mind, the issues faced by a nurse practitioner program in an academic setting are going to be different from those faced by the Director of Urgent Care at a regional system or a Chair at a medical school.

Collecting the material isn't the end of the job.  We know what it takes.

Collecting the material is one problem. Improving it each year is another. Keeping it all up to date is yet another.  Challenger Corporation, makers of Med-Challenger, devotes a lot of time to this question internally. We have 28,000 Q&A’s with 19,000 in active use right now, composed of upwards of 1,200,000 words.  We have 18,000 clinical diagnostic images and illustrations and 30 courses that must be reviewed annually or, in some fields, every six months. Add in article-based MOC requirements, and it becomes quite a job. 

We’ve built tools and processes to pull together content teams and expert medical editors, cull and add materials to medical topics and rapidly deliver changes.

Know-how and New Tools for Online Educators

Recently, Challenger Corporation has begun the introduction of some of those tools into our academic and corporate products for customers to use.  As training in many medical professions progresses towards competency-based medical education (CBME), and we see more customers wanting to collect and curate their own material, we want to help.

One way we can do that is by providing tools and materials.  Unsurprisingly, the most ambitious efforts to collect and differentiate training materials has been in academic organizations - medical and nursing schools.  These organizations spent countless hours creating and recreating teaching materials each year.

Another way will be by talking about what Challenger does for best practices internally and what we’ve learned from the broader e-learning marketplace.  We’ve been accumulating and editing medical material for nearly three decades with increasingly capable technological tools.

Med-Challenger has developed expertise in content curation over the past 25 years.

Keeping it fresh and focused. Content providers like Med-Challenger understand the finer points of online medical education content curation from decades of experience.


"Unsurprisingly, the most ambitious efforts to collect and differentiate training materials has been in academic organizations - medical and nursing schools. These organizations spent countless hours creating and recreating teaching materials each year."

The Start of a Series: Online Medical Education Creation and Curation

We're going to start the series with online Q&A construction.

Online courses are often self-study courses, designed to work asynchronously, and offering few opportunities for students to interact with other students or ask questions of experts.  The stems, case-based layouts, good distractors, good constructs, remediation, and references need to be designed as stand-alone. The programmatic environment matters here as well, with feedback and adaptation as students progress through the questions.

We'll be looking at taxonomies, collecting questions into subjects and courses, and, eventually, stand-alone curricula.  We'll also be looking at image acquisition and reproduction in the age of HIPAA, review processes, and some of the other issues specific to medical diagnostic training in online programs.

Online programs are growing incredibly rapidly, as barriers to entry and costs of delivery drop.  One of the things that hasn’t dropped in price is the cost of production. Inside medical training, the pace of change is tremendous, and triage is required to know what to cover, as well as the half-life of that information.

Outside medicine, looking at e-learning in general, the failure rate of online programs to achieve results is incredibly high.  There are some reasons for that involving students, faculty, and course content. We’ll talk about expertise gaps and the issues that impact online courses.

We’re going to share more about how we create and maintain courses, in hopes that it will help you with yours.


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