I was at AMEE 2008 to present about using Online Communities in medical education and I talked about my use of communities for supporting university papers (e.g. Web 2.0 Summer School at Otago University), professional communities (e.g. Health Informatics Forum) and communities of medical students (e.g. New Media Medicine).
I was also there to meet up with the MEFANET team to discuss international collaboration on medical e-learning projects. We met up with MEFANET organisers and Julien Broisin from ARIADNE at the 'Faust' house at Charles University Medical School.
MEFANET is a new collaborative networks of 10 European medical schools with the aim of sharing e-learning content and technology. The network is already up and running and appears to have a good uptake from the schools involved. They have a number of learning 'objects' that the schools have shared with each other and have a single sign on, managed using the shibboleth software.
There was also a wide range of presentations on e-learning at the conference from other groups and universities. There seems to be a lot of progress in some areas and a lack of progress in others. Many universities are now using learning content management systems and allowing students access to internal e-learning content, but there appears to be some reticence about opening up communities and learning resources to outside users.
I found the work of the eVIP group to be particularly interesting. They are aiming to create a bank of electronic virtual patient scenarios that can be shared between partner universities. They also seem to be generating useful research on the problem of patient consent and anonymisation which appears to be very much in demand.
All in all, it was a very successful conference, with attendees from all over the world. The atmosphere was very friendly and relaxed and Prague was a wonderful venue. I'm looking forward to watching the development of MEFANET and the other e-learning initiatives demonstrated at the conference.