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"This isn't just about futuristic robots teaching medical students; it's about transforming the entire process of how we educate the healthcare professionals of the future."

human hand holding phone with heart on screen with AI robotic hand reaching out to it

Right folks, let's dive into the whirlpool of AI's impact on teaching and education, specifically for evidence-based healthcare. This isn't just about futuristic robots teaching medical students; it's about transforming the entire process of how we educate the healthcare professionals of the future.

AI's got the ability to chew through vast quantities of data and spit out digestible insights, something our trusty traditional teaching methods can't quite match. Imagine, if you will, AI-powered virtual reality tools taking students on an immersive tour of the human body or augmented reality facilitating a first-hand experience of complex surgical procedures. It's not exactly the stuff of boring lectures, is it?​​

One of AI's biggest tricks, however, is personalisation. This is like having a tailor-made suit as opposed to an off-the-rack ensemble. AI can figure out a student's strengths and weaknesses, adjusting the educational content to fit them perfectly. And in a field as complex as evidence-based healthcare, that's no small feat​​.

AI also has a big role to play in research. With its ability to spot trends and patterns in heaps of clinical data, AI can speed up research and improve its quality. This is absolutely critical in evidence-based healthcare, where the latest and most accurate findings can make the difference between effective treatment and missing the mark​​.

But let's not forget about the practical application of research findings. AI simulations and predictive analytics can provide a myriad of scenarios based on research evidence, giving students a practice run for making evidence-based decisions. It's like having a dress rehearsal before the main event​​.

As brilliant as all this sounds, there are pitfalls to watch out for. AI, for all its precision and consistency, struggles with ambiguity and novelty. And in a field as unpredictable as healthcare, this is a pretty big deal. If we're to depend on AI for teaching evidence-based healthcare, we need to balance its strengths against its weaknesses, and that's no small task​​.

And then there's the issue of diversity and bias. Healthcare is about humans, in all their diverse and variable glory. AI, on the other hand, likes to stick to its assumptions, which can be a problem when dealing with the wide spectrum of human anatomy. And there's the risk of AI picking up and amplifying existing biases, which is something we need to address head-on​​.

AI's also got a bit of a blind spot when it comes to individual support. It can handle routine tasks like grading, but these tasks can sometimes be critical markers for educators to step in and provide help. AI doesn't quite have that human touch to sense when something's not quite right​​.

And finally, there's the matter of student engagement. Students are unique, with their own ways of learning and engaging with material. AI, with its limited variables, might not fully capture this, leading to skewed reports of learner engagement. And that's a problem when we're trying to tailor education to individual students​​.

So, here's the deal: AI is a powerful tool with a ton of potential in healthcare education, especially in the teaching and learning of evidence-based healthcare. It can make learning more efficient, personalised, and interactive. But it's not a magic bullet. It's a tool, and like any tool, it needs to be used wisely and with an understanding of its limitations. The future of AI in healthcare education is promising, but it's also a path we need to tread carefully.

The role of AI is just one of many topics covered in our new module Developing Online Education and Resources led by Dr Jonathan Livingstone-Banks.