Background: The Qassim Medical School first year curriculum includes a 5-week problem-based learning (PBL) block. Student evaluation has highlighted inadequate feedback and lack of student-student and student-tutor interactions. An online intervention may alleviate this.
Methodology: For each problem, a discussion forum (DF) was created with 14 threads (one for each group) in virtual PBL rooms. Students' and tutors' perceived satisfaction of the intervention was evaluated and types of posts were classified.
Results: By the end of the block, all academic staff involved and 123 students (95%) had participated in the DFs. There were around 2800 posts and 28,500 views. All 14 tutors and 102 (78%) students completed the online questionnaire. Of the students, 66 (76%) male and 36 (92%) female students responded. Overall, both students and tutors perceived the intervention positively. Posts included: reforming and finalizing learning objectives, posting the concept map constructed in the face-to-face session and questioning, encouraging and motivating each other. In addition, posts included tutors' feedback and redirection.
Conclusions: Blending e-learning with conventional PBL may help overcome student-perceived shortcomings of conventional PBL and improve the learning experience, making learning more interactive and interesting.