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July 2007 Issue

Karen Marsh, Kyle Sliney (middle) and Andy La Barbera, PhD, were internationally recognized for the online multimedia education program they created for reproductive physiology.
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Online Multimedia Program Noted as One of World's Best

Published July 2007

The College of Medicine has won a major international award for its online multimedia education program in reproductive physiology.


The 64 modules, based on lectures given by obstetrics and gynecology's Andy La Barbera, PhD, took the $20,000 first prize in the Life Sciences Division of the 2007 Pirelli INTERNETional Award.


The award is sponsored by the Pirelli international industrial group and recognizes innovative multimedia science communication.


The learning modules, which have proven to be as effective as lectures, were produced by La Barbera, Karen Marsh, manager of the College of Medicine/Academic Information Technology and Libraries (AIT&L) Instructional Technology Center, and Kyle Sliney, multimedia designer and coordinator, in collaboration with co-op students from the digital design program at UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP).


"It came as a total surprise," says La Barbera, "because we hadn't planned to enter the competition.


"Contest officials found the animations on the Web, decided they would be eligible, and contacted us to ask if they could consider them as an entry.


"I see the award as validation of the concept that online, computer-based learning is an effective learning tool for many people" says La Barbera. "Our modules deal with a topic of interest to students and professionals all over the world who might have different learning styles.


"The thing that makes me feel best," La Barbera admits, "is that we beat out Harvard's animations on the life of a cell!"


Critical to the success of the project, La Barbera stressed, was the fact that the College of Medicine, through Marsh, could tap into student talent at DAAP.


"That's the only reason we could do this extensive project," he says. "Without access to the tremendous pool of DAAP students in digital design, it would have been prohibitive.


"It's another example of the value of collaboration between UC's different colleges."


In testing the modules, half the students in the course were allowed to skip lectures and work with the modules instead. Scores showed no difference in the two groups.


Consequently, Marsh says, the modules might eventually replace the lectures, which would in turn become discussion groups. The modules are currently undergoing peer review at both the Association of American Medical College's MedEdPORTAL and the HEAL National Digital Library.


"This honor puts our College of Medicine at the cutting edge of digital design in a burgeoning area," says Marsh, who with Sliney went to Rome May 11 to receive the award. "This office was developed to encourage exactly that, and we have seized the bull by the horns."


Early in the project, the first set of animations won the APGO/ Pfizer Women's Health Curri-culum Development Award of $15,000, and last year the Slice of Life Conference for Medical Multimedia Developers and Educators honored the digital design students who programmed the modules with its $1,000 Student Software Award.


The DAAP students involved were Brendan Bruce and Ryan Yearwood. Sliney was also a student when he began his work on the project. View the modules at 

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