Document Type : Review Article
The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China
Background: Given the rapid development of technologies, virtual community of practice (VCoP) has been employed across various fields, including education. In this context, it is essential to identify the utilization of virtual community of practice in medical education settings in China, particularly its effects on teaching methods and student learning. By understanding the effects of the virtual community of practice on college medical education, we can better evaluate the feasibility of introducing this technology to universities in economically disadvantaged areas. To this end, this study reviewed the literature to identify the potential benefits and challenges of implementing a virtual community of practice in the Chinese context and provide insights into how such an initiative can be effectively designed and implemented.
Methods: To identify the effects of the virtual community of practice on teaching and learning in Chinese medical education settings, we searched multiple databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, and the University of Manchester Online Library. We focused on peer-reviewed English-language publications on virtual technology and medical education from 2013 to 2023.
Results: In Chinese medical education, traditional face-to-face teaching remains the primary instructional approach. This is understandable, considering that supplying a costly virtual community of practice to each student might be impractical, particularly for universities in economically disadvantaged areas. Nevertheless, the literature reviewed in this study suggests that if the virtual community of practice are employed appropriately, it can significantly enhance teaching by substantially reducing the budget required for constructing realistic medical scenarios.
Conclusion: To effectively promote the virtual community of practice for universities in economically disadvantaged areas, we advocated for establishing a dedicated medical education volunteer association as a form of the virtual community of practice to support medical education, which is enhanced by the virtual community of practice.