Original Publication
Open Access

A Computer Supported Interprofessional Education Initiative: Using Technology to Advance Interprofessionalism

Published: August 21, 2013 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9503

Included in this publication:

  • Asynchronous Discussion Board Training.doc
  • HMP Modules 1-4 Background.doc
  • Instructor's Guide.docx
  • References.doc
  • Team Performance Scale Training.doc
  • Wiki Training.doc

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


A long-term strategic goal of Thomas Jefferson University’s InterProfessional Education Center (JCIPE) was identified to “create innovative learning environments that support interprofessional education including state-of-the-art technologies”. In actualizing this goal, Jefferson’s interprofessional education (IPE) curriculum, the Health Mentor Program (HMP), was enhanced with computer-supported collaborative learning techniques to assist student teams with group processing, team building, and reflection. Combining traditional IPE activities with technology-supported components incorporates advantages of both delivery methods. This mixed methodology combines rewarding face-to-face interactions while also providing increased flexibility, reflection, and depth of discussion that the online environment affords.

The Jefferson HMP is a two-year interprofessional learning experience for nursing, medical, pharmacy, occupational, physical, and couples and family therapy students in which teams of students are paired with a person who has one or more chronic illnesses (i.e., a health 'mentor'). For additional HMP implementation resources, see previous publication: Collins, L. et al. Preparing Students for Collaborative Practice: An Overview of the 2012 Jefferson Health Mentors Program. MedEdPORTAL; 2013. Over the course of the program, teams of students visit a person with a chronic disease or impairment while completing a series of module team assignments. As part of these modules, student teams complete comprehensive life and health histories; assess wellness; develop home and medication safety plans; and create individualized action plans for their health mentors to promote healthy behaviors using computer technology tools such as Wiki sites, asynchronous discussion boards and online surveys. A threaded online discussion forum enables students to participate asynchronously by posting reflections and messages about their HMP experience anytime from anywhere with an internet connection. Students are able to read, reflect, compose, and post responses at their own time and convenience.

A second technology tool utilized is a Wiki for each of the 4 module assignments. A wiki platform promotes knowledge sharing and timely dissemination. Wikis are used in this IPE curriculum to promote interprofessional student engagement and community building for knowledge dissemination and feedback. Wiki technology offers an innovative solution to interprofessional education barriers such as variability and complexity in student and faculty schedules across disciplines. Wikis allow for continuity of content presentation and follow up along the curricular continuum. This continuity allows students to build upon and organize concepts essential to understanding the core competencies of interprofessional education.

The last technology tool utilized to support interprofessional education is an online survey tool that measures an essential element of collaborative learning, group processing or team performance. This tool, the Team Performance Scale (TPS), provides a measure of the quality of team interactions, as assessed by each team member, and has evidence of validity and reliability (Thompson et al., 2009). The TPS is administered as an electronic survey that automatically computes mean team scores and reports the team mean once each team member completed the questionnaire. These average team scores are reported prior to the online discussions. This method allows students to view their team score to encourage team dialogue on improving team functioning.

Most students expressed satisfaction with the online discussion board format. Students generally reported satisfaction with the accessing and using the asynchronous discussion board. When the 13 teams included in a pilot sample were given the choice to continue with the online sessions vs. switching to a face-to-face format only 1 team requested to be switched. The end of program evaluation data was most positively in regards to the online discussion format, with students citing the flexibility of the online environment as the most positive aspect.

Course evaluation demonstrated that the wiki was easy to use and facilitated team communication; in fact, 73% - 91% of students from all six health professions agreed it was user friendly and allowed for team and individual contribution. Students liked the accessibility of completing team assignments on the wiki and described the editing feature of the wiki as intuitive. Student and faculty evaluation of the use of wiki technology were mostly positive or neutral. Students appreciated the wiki’s flexibility, easy access, structure, and that it provided a common working area. However, students reported a steep learning curve, an impersonal nature of using a wiki, and that it did not facilitate communication as well as traditional e-mail. Overall, the general consensus was that students felt it was adequate for a group assignment but difficult to navigate and a hurdle for seamless and timely communication. Faculty were also satisfied with integrating wikis into the interprofessional program due to the ability to give immediate and directive feedback, track history of student/author contribution to the assignment, and that the wiki provided continuity across the two-year longitudinal IPE curriculum. However, some faculty reported frustration with the learning curve, the time needed for faculty training, and the confusing interface. After faculty became familiar with the wiki platform and grading scheme, they became more comfortable with the technology.

In a small sample (n = 60), the Team Performance Scale was used to quantitatively assess and measure students’ perceptions of the quality of team or small-group interactions within a team based learning group overtime. The baseline TPS was electronically administered to students after the first IPE module to assess the students’ perceptions of their team functioning during the project. The students then participated on an online discussion forum to reflect and discuss their experiences with the module, interprofessional team work, and their team’s TPS score. The students then completed the second IPE module and were administered the posttest TPS to determine if there were any significant changes in their TPS scores. The students’ mean TPS composite scores showed a statistically significant increase (M = 5.27, SD = 0.70; post n = 60, M = 5.55, SD = 0.59); [t(59) = -2.48, p = .016] signifying students perceived their team to be functioning better after participating on a IPE component to encourage team reflection and effectiveness.

Educational Objectives

  1. Identify strategies for the integration and creation of innovative learning environments for interprofessional education including computer supported communication technologies.
  2. Describe and value the contributions of each member of the interprofessional healthcare team utilizing asynchronous learning technology.
  3. Complete comprehensive life and health histories, assess wellness, develop home and medication safety plans, and create individualized healthy living action plans for a person with a chronic illness or impairment utilizing computer supported collaborative learning techniques to assist in reflection and team building.
  4. Recognize the perspective of the patient and state the value of patient-centered team care.
  5. Appreciate how a person’s health conditions or impairments interact with personal and environmental factors.
  6. Identify the aspects of a person’s life and health history and wellness plans that are important to other disciplines, which also contribute to a comprehensive plan of care.

Author Information

  • Kellie Smith, RN, MSN: Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson School of Nursing
  • Reena Antony, BSN: Thomas Jefferson University
  • Sokha Koeuth: Thomas Jefferson University
  • Lauren Collins: Thomas Jefferson University
  • Anthony Frisby: Thomas Jefferson University

None to report.

None to report.

Prior Presentations
Smith K, Giordano C. Computer supported interprofessional education. Presented at: Jefferson Center of Interprofessional Education Conference; May 2012; Philadelphia, PA.

Smith K, Frisby AJ. Technology supported interprofessional education. Presented at: Collaborating Across Borders III Meeting; November 2011; Tuscan, AZ.


Smith K, Antony R, Koeuth S, Collins L, Frisby A. A computer supported interprofessional education initiative: using technology to advance interprofessionalism. MedEdPORTAL. 2013;9:9503. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9503