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Best Practices for Online Teaching and Learning in Healthcare 

  • 4 Min Read

Discover four best practices to help educational institutions specializing in healthcare innovate, expand and grow.


Healthcare education today is very different from what it was 20 years ago. We have witnessed innovation in online teaching and learning, with curricula being rebuilt, 3D images being implemented to substitute for things like cadavers, and in some cases instructors fashioning headgear to hold a cellphone to livestream surgeries for remote students. As digital technologies continue to be a significant aspect of healthcare education, what are the best practices for online teaching and learning? Read on to find out more.

4 Best Practices for Clinical Online Education

Online learning can offer educational institutions specializing in healthcare training an opportunity to expand into new geographies and help reach changing student and working-professional demographics in dynamic new ways. We’ve outlined four best practices to help create effective and sustainable clinical online education.

1. Supplement Instructor-Led Training (ILT)

In healthcare education, ILT has often been the traditional mode of teaching and learning. This means an instructor facilitates discussions and guides students through materials in a structured classroom environment. But with developments in technology, teaching is no longer confined to this format. Instead, digital tools can be used to maximize learning outcomes through supplementing traditional learning formats.

At its simplest level, online learning can provide students and healthcare professionals with resources to engage asynchronously with class materials such as supplemental videos or recordings. Online learning can also be strategically integrated with specific face-to-face activities where students interact with readings and lectures before a class to learn core knowledge that informs applications during the in-person session. In this setting, an instructor facilitates and guides the learning process by combining the benefits of online and offline teaching to help maximize learning outcomes.

2. Create Self-Paced Learning Opportunities

Not only can online learning support traditional teaching formats, but it can also help create alternative opportunities for teaching and learning such as self-paced or self-directed learning. In this new format, healthcare students and professionals are no longer constrained to access course materials and complete assessments within a certain time frame. Instead, they have the flexibility to incorporate learning into their lives and schedules.

This self-directed learning helps healthcare students and professionals develop independence, professional autonomy, and increased choice and motivation. However, in order to support this concept, the right technology and tools need to be in place. This means using a learning management system (LMS) that not only helps learners select their own learning path but also allows them to access core content anytime, anyplace.

3. Facilitate Collaborative Learning

Online learning alters where and how healthcare students interact, collaborate, and communicate with others. In order for online learning to be effective, education should not simply offer information but rather help students develop capabilities that they can take across their constantly evolving roles and organizations in healthcare. This can mean allowing learners to deal with a broad range of ideas, considerations, and compromises. This can be done through the thoughtful integration and facilitation of collaborative learning opportunities such as online workshops, discussion forums, and group work assignments.

4. Create a Responsive Educational Ecosystem

Our final best practice for online learning is to create responsive educational ecosystems rather than reactive ones. In the past year, we have seen colleges, universities, and institutions grapple with uncertainty as they quickly adapted to new learning environments during the pandemic. Those that had some type of digital and remote learning in place were able to adapt to disruptions more easily compared to those that did not.

For online learning to be effective, resources that can be used when core delivery models are disrupted need to be readily available—for example, having high-quality content that can be accessed by users online and offline. Strategically planned and responsive education programs can help reach all learners regardless of the circumstance, whether there’s a health crisis or a natural disaster.

Learn How Switching Your LMS Can Help You Meet the Changing Needs of Your Students and Faculty

As colleges and universities evolve to meet the growing needs of their students and faculty, many schools are considering moving to an LMS that can handle shifting demands and meet the goals of their institution.

Watch this webinar on demand in which two instructional design experts take a closer look at the drivers and pain points that compelled University of the Sciences in Philadelphia to switch its LMS to D2L Brightspace.

View the webinar on How Switching Your LMS Can Help You Meet the Growing Needs of Your Students and Facultynow

Written by:

Zeina Abouchacra

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Table of Contents

  1. 4 Best Practices for Clinical Online Education
  2. Learn How Switching Your LMS Can Help You Meet the Changing Needs of Your Students and Faculty