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Medical education via the internet: not just the preserve of exam takers
  1. Robyn Webber
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Robyn Webber
 Department of Urology, Queen Margaret Hospital, Whitefield Road, Dunfermline KY12 05U, UK; rjswebber{at}

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The internet has opened up vast new possibilities for medical education

Distance learning is not a new concept—schoolchildren living in remote areas of some countries have been taught by correspondence for many years, and in parts of Australia, children have been educated by two way radio (‘The School of the Air’), for over 50 years. More recently in the UK, the Open University has made tertiary education accessible for many who would not have otherwise had the time or perhaps the opportunity for a university education.


The advent of the internet, however, has opened up vast new possibilities for distance learning, which in the past could not have been envisaged. Previous limitations, including the types of media utilised, their accessibility and delivery, no longer existed. New definitions for this type of study were introduced, E learning and web-based learning to name but two, but the premise was the same—the ability to study remotely from a classroom. As the technology underlying the internet developed, it became possible to display more than just text and images, and now a wide range of media are supported. The introduction of broadband brought faster download speeds and an increasing ability for real-time communication over the internet; video conferencing became more accessible and affordable as individual participants no longer needed their own …

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  • Competing interests: None

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