Article Text

101 Does technology really enhance learning?
  1. R McGuinness
  1. North Bristol NHS Trust, UK


Background/context Average retention rates for passive teaching rates range from 5% for lectures to 30% for demonstrations. This dramatically increases when participatory teaching methods are employed to 75% for simulation (Attr. National Training Laboratories). Although these figures are often quoted in literature and form the learning pyramid they are unsubstantiated.

Methodology Three groups of staff undertaking core training for blood transfusion were selected and taught identical content but using increasing levels of technology. The control group had the organisations standard didactic lecture. The second group received the lecture but were engaged (Draper, 2004) by an interactive handset. The final group lecture was based around a simulated patient who required a blood transfusion. Treatment decisions and actions were decided by the class. A volunteer nurse completed the actions voted for by the learners via the handsets, even if they were incorrect. Small micro teaches would follow each action to ensure knowledge of correct procedure was reinforced.

At the end of the lesson, the learners were invited to complete an evaluation form. A month later they were contacted via email to undertake a short online questionnaire to demonstrate knowledge recall.

Results Although all three groups rated the lessons with little difference in scores. The interesting results were found in the post lesson questionnaire. The control group scored lower averages than the technology-enhanced groups.

Conclusion There seems to be a strong link between knowledge retention and the use of technology enhanced learning. Although small, it would be interesting to repeat this study with more participants over a longer term, looking for a reduction in blood transfusion related errors. However a lot of research into TEL aims for high level translational outcome data, but proving the learning has taken place should support a change in practice and ultimately safer patient care.


  1. Draper SW, Brown MI. Increasing interactivity in lectures using an electronic voting system. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 2004;20:81–94.

  2. National Training Laboratories in Bethel, Maine (no other citation available).

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