Published: July 30, 2013

Videoconferencing effective teaching tool in medical schools

Contact(s): Tom Oswald Communications and Brand Strategy, Kari Hortos Internal Medicine office: (586) 263-6832

Common wisdom would say that students who have face-to-face contact with their teacher would do better than students whose contact is limited to videoconferencing.

However, a recent study by Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine shows that’s not necessarily the case.

The researchers found that students who viewed synchronous lectures – lectures that were live and allowed the students and professor to interact – did just as well on a national test as students who listened to lectures live in the classroom.

The findings were published in the journal Teaching and Learning in Medicine.

“We used the results of the students’ national board exam, which is known as COMLEX,” said Kari Hortos, who led the study and is also the associate dean of the college’s Macomb University Center campus. “We found no statistically significant difference on COMLEX board score performance regardless of site assignment for students.”

With the recent expansions of medical schools, videoconferencing is becoming a much more popular way of presenting lectures. It was in 2009 that MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine expanded with campuses in Macomb County and Detroit in Southeast Michigan.

With that expansion, the college’s entering class – the class of 2013 – expanded from 200 to 300 students.

Since then, Hortos said the college has become North America’s largest user of daily, live interactive videoconferencing in higher education.

More than 600 MSU osteopathic medicine students might attend lectures via videoconferencing daily, and may find themselves using it to interact with lecturers and their peers anywhere from 15 to 25 hours per week.

Hortos said that while videoconferencing is a large part of the college’s curriculum, it is just one tool in their medical education toolbox.

“In the health care professions in particular there is always a component of their education where interacting with students and faculty is vital to help them develop professionally,” Hortos said. “Effective communication with other human beings is one of the foundational cornerstones for physicians.”

This is particularly true in the laboratory setting, she said, where face-to-face interaction is vital to the education process.


Kari Hortos of MSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine led a study that found that students who listened to lectures via videoconferencing did just as well on national exams as students who listened to lectures live in a classroom.