Interactive Learning

Home Pilots at Stanford

Medical education reform at
the School of Medicine

The exploration of interactive learning is part of a larger effort at the school to align our curriculum with the changing healthcare environment and the new ways in which students learn. Led by Charles Prober, Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education, this reform effort includes four working groups, which are reviewing different elements of our medical education program.

The last substantive reform in medical student education followed the Flexner Report, which was published in 1910. Little has changed in the overall structure of medical education over the ensuing 100 years and the call for educational reform is growing louder.

Important drivers of change include:

New learners

Generation Y is the first generation to grow up with constant exposure to digital media. Research shows these “digital natives” learn far more in an interactive, collaborative environment. 

Limitations of traditional lecture

The “sage on the stage” model does not engage most students in the classroom.  Content is delivered once and at a set pace. Lectures often are delivered by many different teachers within the span of a single course, which can break the continuity of the course material.

New research on how people learn

Research into how people learn shows on average people have an 8 min attention span for absorbing new content and internalize knowledge more effectively when it is personally meaningful. 

Exploding volume of medical knowledge

To be successful, students need skills to be lifelong learners, including the ability to discern critical information from the noise and to integrate this information into practice.

New educational technologies

New technologies both in and outside of the classroom have opened new opportunities for teaching. For example, video technology has become increasingly easy to use, and now allows teachers to create videos with built-in quizzes and other interactive activities.

Growing complexity of the healthcare system

Today’s team-based healthcare requires the ability to work closely with individuals from diverse backgrounds to solve patient problems that are too complex to be solved by one discipline or many disciplines in sequence.