Active Learning – Creating Meaningful Artifacts

Assisting students to create meaningful artifacts is the third approach to active learning. Artifacts are concrete objects that students design, create and share with others. The concept of creating meaningful artifacts of student learning originates from the theory of Constructionism originally advocated by Seymour Papert of the MIT Media Lab.
This article will discuss the following two types of artifacts.

1. Personal Artifacts

Personal artifacts are objects shared between a student/team and a teacher and are the most traditional type of artifact found in education. Essays, project reports, creative assignments etc. are common examples. Personal artifacts are used to assess how well a student or team has achieved. This type of artifact is generally considered the property of the student/s and is returned to them after being marked. Classmates see the artifact only if the student decides to share it.

2. Learning Artifacts

Students create learning artifacts to improve the learning of their fellow students and occasionally future students as well as to demonstrate their competency. Learning artifacts help make the learning process more visible to everyone. Some examples of this type of artifact are:
Sophisticated, teaching resources: Students may have learned to produce animations and flash files in high school. These skills could be used as an alternative assignment and will provide you with an ongoing teaching resource.
Websites: Student projects and essays can be posted on a group website where they can be shared. In the following examples, papers from a graduate class from 1997 – Present are publicly available
Blogs: A Blog is an online journal where class reflections/articles can be posted and commented on. Blogs can be private to a specific class or public. For examples see or The university provides blogs to faculty and students at no charge.
Wiki: A wiki is an interactive document that allows a group of individuals to edit content and can be used to create team projects, for problem-based learning, to share research articles etc. Wiki’s can be private to a specific class or public. The university provides wikis to faculty and students at no charge. See my wiki as an example
Podcasts: A podcast is an audio file that can be downloaded to a computer or mp3 player. Here is an example of a series of podcasts from the New England Journal of Medicine, or Texas Tech An RSS feed downloads podcasts to your computer automatically. Students could use software such as Audacity to create podcasts for a class website or create and host them in a commercial site
Videocasts: Videocasts are a more sophisticated mashup of video and podcast. Here is an example from the National Institute of Health and here is how it might be created by students or Vodcasts can be created quickly using Blogcheese
Creative Projects: Medical students at the U of S have an annual art auction and an example illustrating the history of medicine in Saskatchewan is currently hanging in the Westwinds Clinic. Activities like this could be expanded into the classroom to create multi-modal learning resources such as models, illustrations, visual mnemonics and simulations.

Open Letter to Physicians of the World

Bertalan Meskó, from Science Roll writes
“Dear Medical Professionals,
I’m writing to you to describe why to use web 2.0’s features in your practice.
I’m pretty sure web 2.0, the new generation of web services, will play an important role in the future of medicine. These web tools, expert-based community sites, medical blogs and wikis can ease the work of physicians, scientists, medical students or medical librarians. We, medical bloggers, believe the new generation of web services will change the way medicine is practiced and healthcare is delivered.

Web 2.0 in Medical Education

Anne Myer Medical Center
The Blog about the Second Life medical course
Clinical Cases and Images
A blog that collects images, procedure guides and case studies for use in medical education
Deirdre’s Wiki
Resources about medical games, mentoring and tech tools
John Hopkins Medical Podcasts
A weekly podcast looking at the top medical stories of the week for people who want to become informed participants in their own health care.
An online community that is only available to physicians.
InVision Guide to a Healthy Heart
Medicine 2.0 Blog Carnival
A series of articles about Web 2.0 in medicine published every two weeks
MedEd Portal
A storage resource for medical education
Practical Prof
Videos about teaching in medicine
Web Med TV
Medical videos