Vodcasts (video podcasts) are becoming increasingly popular in medical education. At A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU SOMA), vodcasts are an essential component of our blended learning environment, where year 2–4 students train in a contextual setting at community health centers across the U.S. Vodcasts are used far less frequently in our year 1 residential learning environment at the main campus in Arizona, but we are considering moving to significantly more interactive educational experiences with on-demand videos followed by in-class activities. The aim of this study was to determine stakeholder (i.e. medical student) preferences for vodcast design, format, and pedagogical strategies. The overall goal was to increase opportunities for students to learn with this modality.
An interactive Qualtrics™ survey was administered to three cohorts of medical students. The survey generated quantitative and open-ended response data that addressed principles of vodcast instructional design and learning. Responses to survey items were analyzed for statistical significance using the independent samples t-test for interval data, the chi-square test for categorical data, and the Kruskal-Wallis test for ordinal data, using the post-hoc Bonferroni procedure to determine the appropriate α level. Responses to open-ended prompts were categorized using open- and axial-coding.
The most highly valued vodcast attributes, considered essential by all three cohorts, were clear explanations, organization, conciseness, high-yield for medical board exams, and the ability to speed vodcasts up. The least helpful vodcast attributes for all three cohorts were music and objects moving on screen. The average preferred vodcast length for each cohort was 27–28 min. There were significant differences between the less experienced learners in the residential setting and the more mature learners in the blended learning environment regarding certain vodcast attribute preferences, format of included practice questions, explanations for preferred vodcast lengths, and reasons for not viewing vodcasts.
Overall, learner preferences were in line with non-interactive, screen-capture type vodcasts, which have lower demands on institutional cost and faculty production time than Flash™-type interactive vodcasts. Students in the blended learning environment were much more focused on vodcast features that decreased their time commitment, including a preference for noninteractive vodcasts. Given the increase in distance learning in medical education, our results should be of value to other medical programs.