Use of information and communication technologies in medical education


Use of information and communication technologies in medical education

Uso de las tecnologías de la información y las comunicaciones en la educación médica



Suleika Villavicencio Gallego1*
Yorexis Abrahantes Gallego1
Senia María González Alcántara1
Alain Sebastián Martínez Laguardia2


1Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. Medicine Faculty. Cuba.
2 "Marta Abreu" Central University of Las Villas. Villa Clara. Cuba.


* Author for correspondence. Email:




The new millennium has brought information and communication technologies closer to Cuban classrooms. The computer- assisted learning supported by available resources on the network for free and the technological aids, already handled by the students, constitutes a revolution in the education branch, particularly in the medical sciences universities. However, its better use depends on the computing culture of teachers and a new style in the way of guiding and driving the learning process. Involving students and health professionals in the training processes that arise with the use of these technologies is a challenge and the way to success. It is the objective of the authors to comment on their ideas about the novel and stimulating when applied to teaching and provide information on some of the resources available for this.

MeSH: information technologies and communication projects; faculty; education, medical.


El nuevo milenio ha acercado las tecnologías de la información y las comunicaciones a las aulas cubanas. El e-learning apoyado en recursos disponibles en la red de forma gratuita y los medios tecnológicos, manejados ya por los estudiantes, constituye toda una revolución en el sector de la educación, particularmente en las universidades de ciencias médicas. No obstante, su uso y aprovechamiento depende de la cultura informática de los profesores y un nuevo estilo en la forma de orientar y conducir el proceso de aprendizaje. Involucrar a estudiantes y profesionales de la salud en los procesos de formación que surgen con el uso de esas tecnologías es un reto y la vía al éxito. Es objetivo de los autores comentar sus ideas sobre lo novedoso y estimulante que resultan aplicadas a la docencia y proveer información sobre algunos de los recursos disponibles para ello.

DeSC: proyectos de tecnologías de información y comunicación; docentes; educación médica.



Submitted: 12/12/2018
Accepted: 02/09/2019



Traditionally, medical education has relatively relied on oral and passive transmission of knowledge and skills from educators to students through "the class". In the case of clinical disciplines, the principles of learning in hospital wards are of special importance, supported by service professionals and with the help of adequate medical literature. These methods are very valid at present,(1) but they have the disadvantage that teachers often do not have enough time to give personalized attention; In addition, they are not very convenient for the horizontal and vertical integration of the teaching process, because they create a weak self-education.(2) In contrast, a correct use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on the side of the professor paves the way to learning environments centered on the student as a builder of its knowledge, supported by the concept of "learning to learn".(3)

Throughout the twenty-first century, the use of ICT has vigorously reached higher education, hand in hand with mobile computing technologies (laptops, tablets and smartphones) and wireless networks (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth), as well as the availability of access to the internet or intranet. ICTs offer solutions to the growing need to share information and knowledge among physicians today, by allowing them to stay better informed and more easily to communicate. A study carried out(4) at Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences, shows that, after an effort of 10 years, the use that health professionals give to ICT to obtain valuable information has significantly increased. Almost all respondents had access to the internet, e-mail or other means of communication, and most considered them important resources to improve the quality of care for their patients; the most frequent use was the search for information, about the latest research, a particular disease or problem presented by a patient.

This environment of marked increase in information literacy is not yet fully exploited by teachers, since in many cases they have simply transferred the information from the blackboard to the power point, electronically distribute the basic texts and allow their students to record the teaching activities. The potential use of ICT by students must go further and it is related to the level of confidence of teachers in their electronic skills. The degree of informational literacy of the teacher, depending on its age, will normally determine the type and use of the technologies in the teaching process.(5)

Given the large amount of electronic resources available on the internet, the concept of information literacy particularly demands great attention,(1,5) in the medical field. It is defined as knowledge and mastery of a variety of technical tools that facilitate access to relevant information (specialized softwares, websites, databases, etc.) that allow finding solutions to the problems of the specialty; it is a learning process that lasts and it´s perfected throughout life.(5)

Teachers must analyze the resources available on the web and incorporate them, according to their experience in teaching; some of them are offered in Table 1.

These resources collaboratively allow students to learn together with others, with the use of learning networks and communities, very adapted to the idiosyncrasies of their members.(5) The expression already mentioned, "learning to learn", when supported by ICTs contributes to creating personal learning environments (or for its acronym in English PLE "Personal Learning Environments"). These environments integrated into education favor the development of the competences on which the modern world is based, where it is not only important the content to be learned, but also how to do it.(3) Likewise, good management of them allows little motivated student to be trapped in a stimulating environment that gives a central role in the management of their learning. This effort, created to place it at the center of the process, leads to redefining the curriculum of the curricula in function not so much on "what to teach" as on "how to teach".(3)

At present medical education in Cuba has an information, communication and collaboration network (Infomed), which provides a wide range of services and resources; however, the traditional model of teaching focused on the teacher means that they are wasted, and although there are several approaches on how to reverse this problem,(1,3,5,6) few are the generalized actions that can be pointed out. While waiting for the implementation of new study plans that define these personalized learning spaces supported by ICT, teachers could use active methods, adding learning objects, discussion forums and e-learning media. This environment allows students to improve their performance by encouraging them to manage information, create content and connect with other classmates to promote the debate. The potentialities of the virtual university should be exploited and e-learning platforms such as Moodle should be common knowledge for teachers.

In this article, the authors have divulged some elements of the use of ICT in medical education for the creation of personalized learning spaces, based on the necessary transformations demanded by the teaching-learning process. The Cuban system of medical education has qualified personnel and resources, which allow them to generate effective changes in the adoption of these technologies, which in addition to improving processes, contribute to the reduction of economic expenses, by transferring to the virtual world elements of the real practice The production of learning objects and institutional repositories is a task that should be strengthened by the teaching departments of the medical sciences universities of the country.



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5. Rojas HJ, Medina MD. Uso docente de las tecnologías de la información y comunicación como material didáctico en Medicina Humana. Invest en Educ Med [Internet]. 2017 [citado 14/05/2019];30(20):[aprox. 7 p.] Disponible en:

6. Tárano Cartaya G. Un software educativo para la autoevaluación de Morfofisiología I. RCIM [Internet]. 2016 [citado 18/05/2019];8(2):[aprox. 11 p.]. Disponible en:



Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



Contribution of the authors

Suleika Villavicencio Gallego: contributed to the idea of the publication, and much of the theory and its adjustment to the interests of the magazine.
Yorexis Abrahantes Gallego: contributed with part of the information about resources on the web to support the teaching process.
Senia María González Alcántara: contributed to the writing of the article and to the adjustment to the publication norms.
Alain Sebastián Martínez Laguardia: provided the research methodology, bibliographic search for the realization of the theoretical framework and general review of the article.



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