(accepted December, 2011)
The mission of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) is to promote excellence in the teaching of anatomy and physiology.
It is the position of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society that excellence in the teaching of anatomy and physiology can be attained by using the best practices of distributed learning.
Definition of Distributed Learning
Electronic communication technologies are now commonplace and allow for learning to occur almost anywhere and at any time. Hence, the term "Distributed Learning" is used to convey the meaning that modern educators can utilize a wide spectrum of technologies to provide learning opportunities over distance and time. The effective use of email, discussion forums, blogs, wikis and other collaborative construction websites, video conferencing, desktop sharing, screen (video) casting, podcasting, avatars and mobile device applications can promote excellence in teaching and learning.
Supported Types of Learning
HAPS supports the expansion of teaching modalities that allow increased access to education. This can best be accomplished by distributing learning opportunities in a wide array of instructional delivery formats that include, but are not limited to, the following:
• traditional face-to-face (on-campus) courses that maximize physical interaction with course participants and course materials
• digitally-enhanced (web-enhanced or blended) face-to-face lecture and lab courses integrating online and other digital resources
• hybrid courses which provide more traditional approaches such as entirely on-campus laboratory instruction coupled with mainly or entirely online lecture instruction
• entirely online courses using various technologies to achieve the course objectives
Advantages to Students
Distributed learning can promote excellence in learning anatomy and physiology (A & P) when students can
• access instruction from diverse sources thereby allowing greater customization towards their particular educational goals
• find a mode, or modes, of instructional style that best fits their learning preferences
• have a maximum amount of flexibility to learn and to assess their learning in locations and at times a course is not typically available
• easily perform collaborative activities
• access more diverse and more recent content than that found in traditional formats (e.g. textbooks alone)
• use their greater access to resources to become content providers as well as consumers
Components Provided by Educators
Distributed learning can promote excellence in teaching anatomy and physiology (A & P) when educators can
• breakdown isolation due to distance or time
• promote collaborative assignments in their courses
• vary instructional delivery based on individual student needs and preferences
• establish a greater diversity of viewpoints and interests into their course structures
• provide a wide range of content resources including more recent and real-world examples
The technologies that facilitate distributed learning have advantages and disadvantages, which need to be clearly understood by faculty, students and administrators involved in those alternative approaches to delivering instruction. The most important concerns to be addressed include training and certification of instructors for constructing a pedagogically sound course, copyright issues, online etiquette and assessment security and integrity. An institution's standard policies regarding honoring copyright and professional communications must be met by courses delivered in any mode. Additionally, the instructional technologies must support and complement the needs of best principles of teaching and learning. Maintaining assessment quality is a guiding principle and any use of technology should promote educational learning objectives and meet accreditation standards.
Off-campus Lab Components
Any off-campus lab component must provide a learning experience equivalent to that of a face-to-face on-campus course. Effective implementation of at-home or virtual dissections, physiology experiment simulations and computer or web-based activities/demonstrations can ensure that student learning outcomes will be achieved. A well-designed off-campus lab curriculum can also provide credibility for credit transfer. Care must be taken to insure that lab activities and assessments conducted in all learning environments have the same validity, rigor and security as those conducted in traditional environments. Sufficient attention to safety and liability concerns must be paid to safeguard students, faculty, and institutions.
Distributed Learning Task Force
Chair, Thomas M. Lancraft
Steven A. Leadon
Robert L. Leopard
Margaret (Betsy) Ott
Janice Yoder Smith