Since 2004, the story began when a group of recent students in the first year of Alexandria faculty of medicine, they saw that there was no usage of computer in the learning process of the faculty while the use of computer was growing not only in Egypt but also worldwide. The students were interested in this field and were curious about the impact of the introduction of computer usage in the education process. They wanted to improve the quality of learning in the faculty. On the other hand they wanted to affect and make a difference in their college during the period of their studies which is 7 years. So they began to create a small unofficial website that contained some medical materials that were  easy for them to add, such as final exams of past years, some interesting websites in each the different subjects of their education, some flash animations about difficult topics. The website was called FMA website (Faculty of Medicine in Alexandria). During that time, the idea of medical e-learning was unacceptable for most of the medical students. After that, the students started taking bigger steps toward achieving their goals and making the difference. They met with administrators of the faculty and showed them what they got and how they can assist in improving the quality of learning. The creation of the primary website took nearly 4 months (over the summer holiday).

In august 2004, having a vision and a solid proof of their point of view – the website – the student felt confident enough and decided to demonstrate their work to the vice dean of student affairs and education. Their aim was to get his approval on their project, and they got it.
The vice dean for student affairs that year was Prof. Dr. El Sebaey Farag. He welcomed the students and was eager to listen to their idea. Being interested in the idea, the vice dean encouraged them to go on. He informed them that the faculty of medicine began to develop its own official website and that the students can join them in developing the students part of this official website. Dr. Farag introduced them to the website administrator who was Prof. Ahmed Ibrahim, professor of community medicine. He is a very intelligent man with good knowledge about computers and the Internet. He was impressed by the project and he asked the students to share in the development of the official website and create students’ section in the website of the faculty. Upon starting the development of the students’ section, the students started facing some obstacles.

The Egyptian mentality didn’t consider the importance of computer in education. Students had only one idea about computers which is that computers are for games and entertainment only. They faced big rejection from their friends about the project. On other hand, they didn’t trust that they will achieve their goal in the next few years.Only a little number of staff members was interested in this project and supported the mission.
At this time there was no ideas about involving students in developing the medical curriculum, some of our staff didn’t digest the idea of students sharing in developing their teaching methods. Being students helped the team understand students’ needs and students view of medical e-learning, and the kind of e-learning that can attract them.
After that the students’ team began to build the students section of the official website. They changed the design of their previous website to match the design of the official website. They began to work officially and build the strategic plan of their work, recruiting students who were interested in this and forming the primary team which consisted of 6 students called AlexMed Students’ Team.
They started calling different departments of the faculty to supply them with medical materials such as previous final exams, MCQs, Medical sites and they started to collect their own materials such as photographing anatomy specimens, histology slides, and histology drawings from boards, biochemistry practical tests (labs), and physiology practical notes.

They were in the second year of their medical education and as they progressed in years they collected materials that helped them in studying. As students they understand the needs of their colleagues, their studying problems, uncovered points, difficult topics that can’t be understood using usual methods and they collected illustrated materials, animated medical materials and so on, that help facilitate the studying process.
When they reached this point they started to change their strategy from just the collection of foreign materials, to developing their own applications, creating their own animations, although its quality didn’t compare to this of the foreign professional applications at that time, but it had an important benefit. It met the needs of the students specifically because it matched the environment they are coming from and live in on a daily basis.

Interactive Applications the students developed:

  1. Anatomy Interactive Atlas
  2. MCQs Games
  3. Anatomy Real Exam

Materials created by the team:

  1. Histology Microscopic Atlas
  2. Histology Diagnostic Features
  3. Histology Drawings
  4. Microbiology Microscopic Atlas
  5. Microbiology Plates Atlas
  6. Microbiology Practical Atlas
  7. Microbiology Problems
  8. Parasitology Microscopic Atlas
  9. Pathology Jars Atlas
  • At this time the students started to build an official team which consisted of nearly 12 members. Their work reached staff members and students and the students’ part of the official website became one of the interesting websites that students can enter and use to enhance their medical education.
  • To be more official and efficient, students started to ask staff members of their faculty to revise their materials. They went to educators who were interested in their work and recommended by the administrators.
  • At this point they believed their huge efforts didn’t go to waste and they were on the verge of changing the culture to accept the idea of involving students in the development of medical education methods.

Problems they faced during that period:

  1. Resistance of some staff members to the work and eligibility of us to build medical materials that help students in studying.
  2. Resistance from students to the materials and the absence of trust that the student can develop materials that help other students in studying.
  3. Difficulties in developing the medical materials because it needs high level of experience in software development and design.

They solved these problems by:

  1. As mentioned previously, they revised all of the data by staff members that were involved in developing the computer based learning. So they solved the problem of trust from staff and students. Also, by this step they solved the eligibility problem of our work.
  2. They focused on developing an application that aimed at explaining the difficult points. In the same time, they focused on exams and developing ways that help students pass the exams virtually. They collected the questions and specimen that were actually used for exams in college
    • Students already had some technical background, so they started to learn some professional programs on their own such as Macromedia Flash, Macromedia Dreamweaver, Microsoft FrontPage, Microsoft Access, Adobe Photoshop and others.
    • These programs had large numbers of tutorials and lessons concerning its official websites or in many forums on the web. They also we bought text books about these programs took courses and finally took a certificate from Adobe Company and from other teaching companies that we learnt at.
    • So as they are medical students, they are professional developers, they had a medical mind on one hand and on the other hand they have a technical mind, of course they are now able to build what they want to understand in the medical field concerning computer based learning.
    • After that, they faced a huge problem because they were not able to reach all students in their faculty as it has 7000 students so they started to find out solutions for this problem.
    •  In 2007 when they were in the 4th year in our medical life, they decided to form an official organization in their faculty that will let them contact freely with students, promote to themselves anywhere in the faculty, and to talk with their colleagues in the lectures, sections and rounds.
    • They created a family called AlexMed Family which is a part from MSU (Medical Students Union) of the faculty. This family facilitated their mission and made them able to contact students anytime and advertise their products easily.
    • Their family became the most famous on in the faculty because it has visions and missions that were more unique than other families in the faculty.
    • This was a very important step through which they had an open channel with students to discuss new ideas, educate and have continuous feedback. They can develop medical e-learning that can convince busy medical student that it will be easier, more enjoyable and effective if he doesn’t use his books and uses his laptop. This is the amazing challenge they are working on.
    • E-learning is a tool that, when used appropriately, can enhance all aspects of the student experience. Its use will influence and be influenced by the College’s learning and teaching strategy. The importance of using E-learning lies in the fact it will:
  3. Increase the flexibility of learning opportunities in all areas of the curriculum.
  4. Enhance global employability prospects for graduates.
  5. Support the development of faculty of medicine students
Stethoscope and prescription on laptop.




Be assured that e-Learning is not a silver bullet. Refrain yourself from using e-Learning for every training/learning opportunity. There is a place for e-Learning, but it is not appropriate in every circumstance.

Ashok Malani