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Faculty of Medicine blueprinting through curriculum design

Teaching and Learning

By Elizabeth Furey

At Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, the doctor of medicine program has a distinct new curriculum design consisting of four integrated phases: health and its promotion; health disruptions and disease prevention; diagnosis and investigation of disease and illness; and integration into practice.

Each phase is designed to build on knowledge learned from the previous phases. It is commonly referred to in the education field as a spiral curriculum design.

A complex curriculum such as this one requires software capable of storing and showing the relationships between learning objectives, content, assessments and program competencies (based on CanMEDS, an Ontario-developed framework for improving patient care by enhanced physician training). After an extensive search for such a system, it was determined that no current learning management systems (LMS) or other educational software was appropriate for the management of a complex professionally-accredited degree program.

In response to this issue, Steve Pennell, manager of the Faculty of Medicine’s Health Education Technology and Learning team, advised the medical education leadership team of the need to create a system that would support an integrated competency focused, curriculum blueprinting and mapping system. After six years of development, CBlue has become a software product that has enabled the Faculty of Medicine to build curriculum, support assessment and accreditation processes and enable learner-focused feedback.

“Accredited programs like the doctor of medicine program at Memorial University require an education program-focused management system that is able to show the connections between learning objectives, course goals and program requirements,” said Dr. James Rourke, dean, Faculty of Medicine. “CBlue is the education program management system software that is able to help ensure we are providing the best education and at the right time in a medical student’s year of study.”

CBlue software, which has evolved into a company called CBlue Software Inc., has not only been able to improve curriculum management at Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine, but it has also been receiving attention externally. Other universities with complex curriculums have expressed interest in the software. Also at Memorial, the schools of social work, nursing and pharmacy and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science are beginning to use CBlue as their professional program management systems for their curriculum as well.

“This is a product born out of the university,” said Mr. Pennell. “Now other universities are interested, too. Not only will CBlue be used to help improve education here at the Faculty of Medicine but it may also enable better education for students in many other institutions through curriculum blueprinting.”

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