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Logo of bmcmeduBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Medical Education
BMC Med Educ. 2004; 4: 27.
Published online 2004 November 29. doi:  10.1186/1472-6920-4-27
PMCID: PMC535936

A randomized trial comparing digital and live lecture formats [ISRCTN40455708



Medical education is increasingly being conducted in community-based teaching sites at diverse locations, making it difficult to provide a consistent curriculum. We conducted a randomized trial to assess whether students who viewed digital lectures would perform as well on a measure of cognitive knowledge as students who viewed live lectures. Students' perceptions of the digital lecture format and their opinion as whether a digital lecture format could serve as an adequate replacement for live lectures was also assessed.


Students were randomized to either attend a lecture series at our main campus or view digital versions of the same lectures at community-based teaching sites. Both groups completed the same examination based on the lectures, and the group viewing the digital lectures completed a feedback form on the digital format.


There were no differences in performance as measured by means or average rank. Despite technical problems, the students who viewed the digital lectures overwhelmingly felt the digital lectures could replace live lectures.


This study provides preliminary evidence digital lectures can be a viable alternative to live lectures as a means of delivering didactic presentations in a community-based setting.

Articles from BMC Medical Education are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central