Building an interactive learning tool for medical students

The General Medical Council (The GMC) regulates all medical degrees in the UK. Their regulations state that all medical schools must be able to demonstrate that they are producing graduates who are fit to practice. Imperial College School of Medicine recently decided to take a new approach to meeting this requirement by collating their own learning outcomes and then mapping them to the broader set of higher-level learning outcomes defined by the GMC.

Having taken this approach Imperial College quickly saw the huge educational value in the data this process had generated and wanted the resulting application to give students access to these learning outcomes as well as the administrators. The application they envisaged would help students track their learning and aid revision for their exams. For administrators the application can track changes to the curriculum, create different cross sections of the outcomes based on the their metadata, and generate reports for a variety of purposes.

This project was particularly challenging to deliver as there were no products available on the market offering a student-focused curriculum map that included strong change control features.

The solution is implemented as a responsive single page application leveraging a number of different javascript frameworks backed by Django REST framework. The responsive design means that the application renders beautifully for administrators on their desktop computers and students on their ipads and phones. By implementing it as a single page application and leveraging browser caching in some cunning ways we were able make navigating the large data-set extremely fast with hardly any loading times.

The application has now been rolled out to all six years of the medical course. Students are positively engaging with the application and the interactive visualisation of the curriculum has proved particularly popular with administrators who want to view many disparate parts of the curriculum at once.