11 March 2003

Working away: Dr Bev Schweitzer of the Division of Family Medicine enjoys that restorative cup of tea while keeping an eye on her WebCT chatroom.

This is the first of a fortnightly column about WebCT – the fully supported online teaching and learning environment used by UCT. Each column will have general information about WebCT, spotlight lecturers (some experienced, some new) or courses or events in courses, and answer commonly asked questions about WebCT.


Q: What is WebCT?
A: WebCT is software that allows staff to establish secure, online environments to support a wide range of teaching activities – notes, presentations, a calendar, self-tests, bulletin boards, chat rooms, etc. WebCT is not for distance education only. At UCT, most courses use WebCT in support of traditional methods. WebCT's flexibility allows it to accommodate most styles, for large or small classes.

Further information on WebCT at UCT can be obtained on their website.

Spotlight On: Maryam Navsa and Bev Schweitzer
A course in family medicine using WebCT – using the chatroom for Patient presentations.

“When the Department of Family Medicine at Stellenbosch started their web-based postgraduate course in family medicine, they asked their colleagues at UCT to create and facilitate a module on child and family health. The module started three weeks ago and we are slowly finding our way and delighting in the opportunities that such a course offers.” This is how Bev Schweitzer describes her first forays into the use of WebCT.

The module maximises interaction, and relevance by using on-line small group discussions.

“Last Sunday evening we ran our first paediatric patient presentation using a chat room. In the chatroom were six students (from as far afield as Namibia), a paediatrician and a family physician facilitator and two other facilitators who were observing. The students discussed paediatric patients from their practices, and raised questions. The paediatrician gave expert opinion when required.”

Naturally, with local and national bandwidth being what it is, running a course like this has its problems. “It took about 15 minutes for all to be connected, and connections at times were dropped, but all managed to re-connect.”

“The wealth of experience shared by a group of doctors, from different countries and working in various places. One student had questions about a patient with sickle cell anaemia which another student, with experience from Central Africa, was able to answer.

“The high degree of interaction between participants, referring to unseen textbooks during the chat allowed one to appear more knowledgeable. Being able to give a face and context to the 'speaker ' on the 'Who's who' feature of WebCT.

“And, of course, being at home and sipping tea during the session!”

“The chat room provided for a rich discussion with doctors working in a variety of settings, with the input of specialists in both family medicine and paediatrics.”

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Monday Monthly

Volume 22 Edition 04

27 Mar 2003

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