International Journal of Academic Medicine

: 2022  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 96--101

Mentor-learner web-based interprofessional collaborative distance learning: An innovation in teaching-learning method

Bhagyalakshmi Avinash1, Irfan Ali2, Rashmi Rekha Sahoo3, Vijaya Hegde4, Deepak Nagpal5, Ciraj Ali Mohammed6, Animesh Jain7, Anand Kukkamalla8, Sharada Rai9,  
1 Department of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopaedics, JSS Dental College and Hospital, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Manipal Tata Medical College, Jamshedpur, India
3 Department Centre for Foundation & General Studies, Manipal University College, Melaka, Malacca, Malaysia
4 Department of Public Health Dentistry, A J Institute of Dental Sciences, Mangaluru, Karnataka, India
5 Department of Oral Pathology, D.Y. Patil Dental School, Pune, Maharashtra, India
6 Department of Microbiology, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal, Karnataka, India
7 Department of Community Medicine, KMC, Mangaluru, India
8 Department of Microbiology, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka, India
9 Department of Pathology, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Bhagyalakshmi Avinash
Department of Orthodontics, JSS Dental College and Hospital, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru - 570 015, Karnataka


Introduction: Web-based (Web) interprofessional collaborative distance learning is an important tool for enhancing the knowledge of learners. Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) fellowship adopts mentor-learner (ML) based teaching-learning methodology wherein learners from various interprofessional fields collaborate for knowledge construction and problem-solving. Materials and Methods: This was an educational intervention study conducted as a part of the FAIMER fellowship. This study duration was 1 month. We offered a Web ML interprofessional collaborative distance-learning to cover the concepts of Questionnaire Designing for educational purposes to the fellows enrolled for the fellowship. The fellows were tutored via online/e-learning methods and activities. The fellows underwent assessment of their knowledge of the topic both before and after the course. Statistical analysis was performed and the mean of overall scores was obtained. The means were compared by two-tailed paired t-test. Results: Thirty four FAIMER fellows completed the entire module during the study period. The mean score for knowledge of the topic was significantly higher on the final assessment than on the initial assessment (P < 0.001). Conclusion: The use of, (ML-Web) interprofessional collaborative distance learning through a digital platform can promote teaching and learning in the educational field, increasing knowledge significantly. The following core competencies are addressed in the article: Practice-based learning and improvement, Medical knowledge, Interpersonal and communication skills.

How to cite this article:
Avinash B, Ali I, Sahoo RR, Hegde V, Nagpal D, Mohammed CA, Jain A, Kukkamalla A, Rai S. Mentor-learner web-based interprofessional collaborative distance learning: An innovation in teaching-learning method.Int J Acad Med 2022;8:96-101

How to cite this URL:
Avinash B, Ali I, Sahoo RR, Hegde V, Nagpal D, Mohammed CA, Jain A, Kukkamalla A, Rai S. Mentor-learner web-based interprofessional collaborative distance learning: An innovation in teaching-learning method. Int J Acad Med [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Jun 9 ];8:96-101
Available from:

Full Text


Constant innovation is being done in the field of teaching and learning, with active learning now preferred over the traditional passive learning methods.[1] Online discussion forums provide a unique opportunity for asynchronous interactions among learners. Such forums promote active discussions among the mentors and learners and, besides knowledge construction, they are known to develop unique skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving.[2] Learners across the globe are increasingly using the web for information and communication, thus making e-learning as a widely accepted modality of teaching and learning.[3] The Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) institute, based in Philadelphia, offers a 2-year faculty development fellowship program through its network of regional centers. Health professionals across the world are selected for this fellowship with an aim of strengthening knowledge and skills in education leadership, education methods, and project management and evaluation. Much of the learning and interaction in this fellowship occurs on the discussion forum called “Mentor-Learner Web” (ML-Web), involving the selected fellows and faculty. Collaborative distance learning through e-learning offers overcomes the barriers of time, resources, and availability of learning opportunities. Inter-professional Collaboration (IPC) teaches fellows to appreciate another professional's perspective.[4] Manipal Academy of Higher Education FAIMER International Institute for Leadership in Interprofessional Education is the only regional FAIMER institute which provides IPC using the ML-Web as a discussion forum. The World Health Organization states “Interprofessional education occurs when two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes.”[5] It involves learning with, from and about each other, utilizing the following four core competencies-values and ethics, roles, and responsibilities, interprofessional communication, and teams and teamwork.[6] The traditional teaching approach, which involves face-to-face learning through seminars, conferences, workshops, and courses, has many advantages like social interactions and also the ability to ask real-time questions. However, the disadvantages of this approach include increased cost, time, and travel.[7] ML-Web and other such e-learning programs can overcome the constraints of traditional teaching methods and thus promote active learning, thereby assisting in the transfer of adequate knowledge.[8] It offers advantages such as ease of access, affordability, low cost, flexibility in timing, and most importantly, enhanced effectiveness in the subject.[9]

While a few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of ML Web-based learning in FAIMER institutes, to date there have been very few assessing the knowledge gain related to the use of Interprofessional Education in the web-based distance learning module.[2]


This was an educational intervention study. The study participants included thirty-four fellows (year 1 and year 2 fellows). Data pertaining to fellows who had completed the scheduled activities and participated in all the topics/chapters planned during the study were considered for the analysis. The study lasted for 30 days.

This ML web session is a part of the FAIMER Fellowship and is a requirement to complete the fellowship. The fellows enter the fellowship having an understanding that they must participate in the ML Web sessions and hence give their full consent to be a part of the session planned. All the guidelines of the HELSINKI declaration were followed, confidentiality was maintained and all the participants were fully aware and have given their full consent.

The ML-Web Learning process involves selecting a group of moderators from each year. The moderators' team included of three fellows from Year 1 and three fellows from Year 2. They were tasked with preparing the objectives and contents for the ML Web discussion. The topic for the month-long ML Web discussion was chosen as “Questionnaire Designing.” The content of the topic was divided into subtopics which were covered weekly. Timely guidance in these tasks was given to them by the FAIMER faculty.

Both individual and group activities were planned to achieve the stated objectives. Individual activities included assignments relating to each subtopic; the fellows were asked to answer them by referring to the references provided. The moderators facilitated the discussion by encouraging and acknowledging responses, highlighting important aspects within the responses, and motivating the nonrespondents or silent members of the group. As a group activity, each team was asked to construct a questionnaire from a given scenario. The primary aim of the group activity was to pool, utilize the diverse perspectives of group members, and apply the pool of knowledge and skills learnt during the module to create a questionnaire. The secondary aim of group activity was to help in the team build-up and to understand the importance of leadership and shared responsibilities.

Evaluation of the gain in knowledge was done by utilizing a survey questionnaire comprising 10 questions. The questionnaire was validated by experts in the field of questionnaire designing. The survey questionnaire was administered using Google Forms before and after the ML Web session. The responses were kept confidential. After the posttest, feedback was also taken from the participants on the course content, method of application, and its effectiveness. The feedback questions included both open-ended and close-ended questions.

All the fellow responses to the assignments were scrutinized and summarised. This was later converted into a chapter and PowerPoint presentation format. It was then shared with all the fellows to be used in future as reference material about questionnaire designing.


The entire content was divided into four threads (phases). Each thread had subtopics about Questionnaire Designing. The threads or subtopics were released week by week. The content of the ML Web course is described in [Table 1].{Table 1}

The pre- and posttest responses were received from 34 fellows. Matching of responses was performed using the E-mail address provided by the fellows and all 34 complete data were available for statistical analysis. There was a statistically significant difference between the means of pre- and posttest scores (P < 0.001). Pre- and posttest responses are summarized in [Table 2].{Table 2}

The feedback questionnaire comprised items which were both open and closed ended. The feedback was taken 3 days after the posttest. The closed-ended questions were Likert rating scale and open-ended questions were narrative responses. A summary of fellow's responses is shown in [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5].{Figure 1}{Figure 2}{Figure 3}{Figure 4}{Figure 5}

Most fellows believed that the ML Web session was very relevant in improving the overall knowledge about questionnaire designing. The majority were positive responses such as “very relevant,” “very satisfied,” or “excellent.” When asked about which part of the session was very useful, almost all the fellows responded for “validity and reliability of the questionnaire,” which was the last thread. The fellows believed that this online ML Web session was highly educational compared to other teaching-learning methodologies.


The present study showed that an online ML Web session is an effective method to impart knowledge about questionnaire designing. The fellows being from different professions added to the uniqueness for this learning where a shared knowledge and understanding each other's perspective, requirement and learning about, from and with each other to enable collaborative learning happened. Similar utility of ML Web session was demonstrated by Sivakumar, where an improvement in the participants' knowledge about various assessment methods in medical education was noticed.[10]

Comparison of pre- and post-ML web session test scores showed a highly significant increase in knowledge (P < 0.001). The feedback questionnaire responses from fellows were mostly positive. Results of the present study showed a gain in knowledge and high respondent satisfaction. This is in accordance with previous studies.[11],[12],[13],[14]

Participation in online web sessions is time-saving compared to the demand of physical participation and presence, which requires high commitment and proximity of residence to the course offering institute. This is where the advantage of online ML web sessions comes into role. Furthermore, ML web sessions are much easier for the learners to complete the course because of its compatibility with everyday routines.[15]

Distance learning via ML web sessions favors cost-benefit ratio as well as it has the most advantage, especially in response-poor locales or in those that are too far away from the centers.[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25] Identifying the barriers and a feasible solution to overcome them will help in the successful implementation of online learning.[26],[27]

The strength of this study was the active participation of the fellows of different professional backgrounds. This provided the scope for the topic of the ML Web session, “Questionnaire Designing” to be looked at from perspectives of various professional backgrounds leading to an interprofessional educational module.

The only limitation we could think about in this study was that we did not have a control group. The study participants for the present study are fellows enrolled in FAIMER fellowship, which includes learners from fields such as medical, dental, pharmacy, nursing, engineering, and IT. The ML web sessions are a part of the fellowship and hence, it was not unusual to find 100% responses. Considering this, it is not possible to generalize the findings of this study to the entire population but, the result of the study carries an important message that this method of learning is valid, and the content developed from such a method is extremely useful for future works.


Online Mentor Learner web sessions were shown to effectively increase the knowledge of the learners. Feedback summary implies that the fellow's satisfaction was high. Hence, it is justifiable that distance learning via ML web sessions should be given priority and thus to be used as a complementary to the existing teaching-learning methodologies. Our study suggests that online ML web session is a valid means of increasing learners' knowledge about questionnaire designing.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

Ethical conduct of research

All ethical principles have been adhered to protect the dignity, rights and welfare of research participants. The research partcipants have given their full consent for this study and have agreed for scientific publication of the research results. Ethics Committe approval was granted. Pertinent EQUATOR Network guidelines were utilized.


1Castanho ME. Os métodos ativos e a educação contemporânea. [Active methods and contemporary education]. Rev HISTEDBR On-line 2008;29:58-67.
2Zayapragassarazan Z, Chacko TV. Interaction analysis of FAIMER mentor-learner web online collaborative learning session. Malays Online J Educ Technol 2020;8:12-27.
3Ruiz JG, Mintzer MJ, Leipzig RM. The impact of E-learning in medical education. Acad Med 2006;81:207-12.
4Burdick WP. Global faculty development: Lessons learned from the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) initiatives. Acad Med 2014;89:1097-9.
5World Health Organization. Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice Health Professions Networks Nursing & Midwifery Human Resources for Health. World Health Organization, Department of Human Resources for Health, CH-1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2010. Available from: [Last accessed on 2020 Dec 02].
6Mohammed CA, Anand R, Saleena Ummer V. Interprofessional Education (IPE): A framework for introducing teamwork and collaboration in health professions curriculum. Med J Armed Forces India 2021;77 Suppl 1:S16-21.
7Davis DA, Thomson MA, Oxman AD, Haynes RB. Changing physician performance. A systematic review of the effect of continuing medical education strategies. JAMA 1995;274:700-5.
8Sandars J, Langlois M. E-learning and the educator in primary care: Responding to the challenge. Educ Prim Care 2005;16:129-33.
9Curran VR, Fleet L. A review of evaluation outcomes of web-based continuing medical education. Med Educ 2005;39:561-7.
10Sivakumar G. Understanding on assessment through online ML web discussion – A scholarly report. J Educ Technol Health Sci 2017;4:54-61.
11Williams JG. Are online learning modules an effective way to deliver hand trauma management continuing medical education to emergency physicians? Plast Surg (Oakv) 2014;22:75-8.
12Weston CM, Sciamanna CN, Nash DB. Evaluating online continuing medical education seminars: Evidence for improving clinical practices. Am J Med Qual 2008;23:475-83.
13Fordis M, King JE, Ballantyne CM, Jones PH, Schneider KH, Spann SJ, et al. Comparison of the instructional efficacy of internet-based CME with live interactive CME workshops: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2005;294:1043-51.
14Cook DA, Levinson AJ, Garside S, Dupras DM, Erwin PJ, Montori VM. Internet-based learning in the health professions: A meta-analysis. JAMA 2008;300:1181-96.
15Klümper C, Neunzehn J, Wegmann U, Kruppke B, Joos U, Wiesmann HP. Development and evaluation of an internet-based blended-learning module in biomedicine for university applicants – Education as a challenge for the future. Head Face Med 2016;12:13.
16Weaver MR, Crozier I, Eleku S, Makanga G, Mpanga Sebuyira L, Nyakake J, et al. Capacity-building and clinical competence in infectious disease in Uganda: A mixed-design study with pre/post and cluster-randomized trial components. PLoS One 2012;7:e51319.
17Miyashita T, Iketani Y, Nagamine Y, Goto T. FaceTime (®) for teaching ultrasound-guided anesthetic procedures in remote place. J Clin Monit Comput 2014;28:211-5.
18Chang LW, Kadam DB, Sangle S, Narayanan S, Borse RT, McKenzie-White J, et al. Evaluation of a multimodal, distance learning HIV management course for clinical care providers in India. J Int Assoc Physicians AIDS Care (Chic) 2012;11:277-82.
19Mains EA, Blackmur JP, Dewhurst D, Ward RM, Garden OJ, Wigmore SJ. Study on the feasibility of provision of distance learning programmes in surgery to Malawi. Surgeon 2011;9:322-5.
20Bagayoko CO, Gagnon MP, Traoré D, Anne A, Traoré AK, Geissbuhler A. E-Health, another mechanism to recruit and retain healthcare professionals in remote areas: Lessons learned from EQUI-ResHuS project in Mali. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak 2014;14:120.
21Freese KE, Documét P, Lawrence JJ, Linkov F, Laporte RE, Stall RD. Public health education using supercourse: A computer-based learning resource for health-care professionals in the southern province of Zambia. Public Health Rep 2014;129:100-6.
22Kulier R, Gülmezoglu AM, Zamora J, Plana MN, Carroli G, Cecatti JG, et al. Effectiveness of a clinically integrated e-learning course in evidence-based medicine for reproductive health training: A randomized trial. JAMA 2012;308:2218-25.
23Guerra CM, Ramos MP, Medeiros EA. First Brazilian experience in web-based course for healthcare professionals. Med Teach 2010;32:185.
24Bollinger RC, McKenzie-White J, Gupta A. Building a global health education network for clinical care and research. The benefits and challenges of distance learning tools. Lessons learned from the Hopkins center for clinical global health education. Infect Dis Clin North Am 2011;25:385-98.
25Synnott J, Harkin M, Horgan B, McKeown A, Hamilton D, McAllister D, et al. The digital skills, experiences and attitudes of the Northern Ireland social care workforce toward technology for learning and development: Survey study. JMIR Med Educ 2020;6:e15936.
26O'Doherty D, Dromey M, Lougheed J, Hannigan A, Last J, McGrath D. Barriers and solutions to online learning in medical education – An integrative review. BMC Med Educ 2018;18:130.
27Kan JY, Zhu L, Fong NJ, Ruan X, Ong AM, Lee G, et al. Conducting of web-based workshops for final year medical students preparing to enter the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. Med Sci Educ 2021;31:197-201.