The Center for Biomedical Informatics
State University of Campinas, Brazil

Research Abstracts

A Distance Interactive Course on the History of Neuroscience

Renato M.E. Sabbatini and Silvia Helena Cardoso

Faculty of Medical Sciences, and Center for Biomedical Informatics, State University of Campinas, Brazil and
The Edumed Institute for Education in Medicine and Health, Campinas, Brazil

Distance education technologies provide cost-effective and flexible solutions for university outreach programs, whenever interested students are sparsely dispersed across the country. We have created and offered for the first time an introductory on-line course on the history of neuroscience, comprising ten thematic modules, with a total duration of 36 hours. Each weekly module consisted of a lecture transmitted live in streaming video through the Web, followed by a text-based chat. The course´s site provided password-protected access to the distance learning management environment (TelEduc), with papers taken from the Brain & Mind journal (, as well as additional instructional resources, such as in-depth papers and sites, e-books, bibliographies, biographies, video clips, slide shows, etc. Off-class interaction was implemented with Web-based discussion forums, a bulletin board and email. Collaborative learning was achieved by means of student and group portfolios. Results: 49 students from 28 different cities and 11 states enrolled in the course. Of these, 57% completed successfully the course. Student participation was indicated by an average of 52 site visits, 12 forum messages and 5 portfolio items per student, and formally evaluated by means of on-line, self-correcting multiple-choice quizzes, and a final essay on a historical topic. Frequency curves, however, follow uniformly decreasing trends as the course progressed, indicating that on-line courses still have student continuity and motivation problems. The intense degree of participation, overall user satisfaction and level of learning highly recommend this form of teaching and learning for courses in neuroscience. Particularly, the mix of live video lectures followed by interaction, and web-based support provided a very effective teaching model at a low cost

Keywords: distance education, neuroscience, teaching methods, internet, WWW, history of neuroscience

Presented at:
Abstr. Annual Meeting Society for Neuroscience (SFN 2003), New Orleans, LO, USA, november 2003

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Last Updated: March 2, 2001