Using Rules as a Pedagogical Tool in Linear and Global Virtual Patients

Susan Albright MS, Tufts University School of Medicine
Mark Bailey, MS, Technology for Learning in the Health Sciences
Ralph Aarons, MD, Tufts University School of Medicine
Joe Rencic, MD, Tufts Medical Center
Janet Cowan, MD Tufts Medical Center
Daniel Walker, BA, Technology for Learning in the Health Sciences

The TUSK (Tufts University) Virtual Patient Tool has evolved over the last four years to include both Linear and Global Virtual Patients. By faculty request we have modified the tool to include the ability to set rules to assure that students do not bypass important parts of the case as they proceed through. In a linear case students must proceed along a predetermined path but still have many choices. For example, they can select from among presented physical examinations or diagnostic studies. In Global cases, students have freedom to create their own pathway through the case. In both VP types faculty may want to assure that certain elements are selected before other elements or that other elements are not bypassed. Through a medical school innovation grant we were given the opportunity to add to the system so that an author can add one or more entrance rules that meet the Medbiquitous standard. We will describe the process of adding rules, as well as our decisions to make the authoring process manageable. We will also provide examples of how rules were applied to existing Virtual Patients and why these rules were important for the learning.