The importance of educational theories for facilitating learning when using technology in medical education

John Sandars*, Rakesh S. Patel, Poh Sun Goh, Patricia K. Kokatailo, Natalie Lafferty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is an increasing use of technology for teaching and learning in medical education but often the use of educational theory to inform the design is not made explicit. The educational theories, both normative and descriptive, used by medical educators determine how the technology is intended to facilitate learning and may explain why some interventions with technology may be less effective compared with others.Aims: The aim of this study is to highlight the importance of medical educators making explicit the educational theories that inform their design of interventions using technology.Method: The use of illustrative examples of the main educational theories to demonstrate the importance of theories informing the design of interventions using technology.Results: Highlights the use of educational theories for theory-based and realistic evaluations of the use of technology in medical education.Conclusion: An explicit description of the educational theories used to inform the design of an intervention with technology can provide potentially useful insights into why some interventions with technology are more effective than others. An explicit description is also an important aspect of the scholarship of using technology in medical education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1039-1042
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2015


  • medical education


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