The new media have become widely used tools in medical instruction today. But are they regarded as useful by students training to become medical doctors? What are students' most important criteria for a good CD-ROM or valuable Internet resources? To answer these questions, and to obtain definite data on the use of new media, we distributed a questionnaire to preclinical medical and dental students of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. The evaluation of 397 questionnaires demonstrates that 94.9% of the students use personal computers; 91.6% of the 85.8% who own a computer have access to the Internet. The Internet is used at least once a week by 70.1% of students for private and by 59.9% for study purposes. Offers of course-relevant material (Workshop Anatomy for the Internet) are of major interest. CD-ROMs with anatomy applications are used by 58.9% of the students. The subjective effectiveness regarding various aspects of learning using books versus CD-ROMs is compared and the students' views of the importance of different features of electronic media are outlined, including course-relevant high-resolution and quality material, key word search, state-of-the-art information, and clearly laid-out tables. The findings of this survey demonstrate high student demand for computer-aided instruction and anatomy applications offered on the Internet and on CD-ROMs. The students' main focus of interest was found to be examination-relevant material and supplemental study material for courses offered locally. The present results may serve as a basis for the development of valuable educational aids.
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