For many of us, the closest we’ll ever get to the medical field is watching daytime re-runs of Dr House berating his long-suffering underlings and insisting ‘It’s not Lupus’ until he’s blue in the face. We’ll never share the intimate knowledge of the human body that doctors seem to have, nor will we have the same opportunity to keep abreast of changes in the medical field like they do.
Well, until now that is. Meet Meducation. Part social network, part virtual learning environment; this Birmingham based startup allows medical professionals and those interested in the medical field to talk, share learning material and to ask questions.
Interested? Here’s how it works.
Pricing and Premium
Meducation uses the tried-and-tested freemium model. Cheapos and spendthrifts get (for the most part) access to the entire site, including user generated content, exam questions and the many social features of the website. However, for those willing to part with £5 per month, they get access to a number of enticing premium features.
These complement the already large amount of user generated content, and include video tutorials produced for the site by medical professionals and academics, as well as over 3000 extra exam questions.
I must stress that I’m not a medic myself. Despite that, I found the premium videos to be accessible. Concepts are broken up and introduced slowly, and in bite-sized chunks. After watching a few videos, I decided to give some of the exam questions a spin. The questions were randomized, and could be adjusted based upon difficulty and field of study. Feedback and results were given immediately, and were compared against other people who had taken similar tests.
Another premium feature of Meducation is The Funky Professor. This series of videos feature Professor Vishy — a UK based medical doctor — discussing aspects of anatomy in five minute chunks. You can watch 30 second previews in the browser, although if you’d like to watch the whole thing you’ll have to fork out £29.95.
If you’ve used Facebook or MySpace, some aspects of Meducation will be really familiar.
You have your own profile, which you can customize with a photo of yourself. You also have friends, and can add and send messages to other users on the site. If you’re not too keen on having strangers from the site message you, this can be turned off in your privacy settings.
In addition to having personalized profiles, users are also given a blog to which they can contribute. These work much like a WordPress or Blogspot blog. People share their thoughts and insights on a medical subject they care about in publicly-facing blog posts. These can receive comments and can be voted upon either positively or negatively.
Finally, in a style slightly reminiscent of language-learning supersite Duolingo and other gamified learning platforms, using the platform earns you badges which adorn your profile. These are earned by using the site, interacting with other users and contributing content.
There’s even a medical-themed spin on Yahoo! Answers and, yes, our very own MakeUseOf Answers. Users of the site can ask questions which get upvoted or downvoted and answered by other users of the site.
This works as you’d expect, and is open to both free and premium account holders. In addition to this, you’ll also find user generated content for revising concepts in medicine. The vast majority of this is distributed as infographics, mindmaps, slideshows, and videos. Despite most of them being created by non-designers, I found that they were (mostly) quite pleasant to look at and were of a near-professional quality. Items you personally find useful can be added to your library (sometimes called Favorites) for later perusal.
There’s even a category for mnemonics, where users of the site can share handy little sayings which have helped them memorize complicated medical terminology. My personal favorite was the one for ‘risk of gallstones’. These are also user editable, and can be commented and voted upon by users of the site, thus ensuring a degree of quality control.
It’s worth stressing that Meducation does not manually approve each item which is contributed to the site. However, each user has a reputation score indicating how their contributions to the community have been received. If you try to convince a generation of student medics that the livers and kidneys are basically the same thing, expect your reputation to take a hit.
Doctors are always looking to stay current with the latest trends in medicine, and stressed-out medical students are always looking for ways to revise and build upon what they’re taught in class. Meducation seems to seems to deliver on both counts. For those with just a passing interest in the human body, it offers a great platform to satisfy that curiosity.
Will you be signing up? Let me know in the comments below.
Image Credit: Photos GOVBA