Teaching Clinical Trial Design and Management Using an Online Virtual Environment


  • Matthew Linden
  • James Baglin
  • Anthony Bedford


Providing pharmaceutical science students relevant and authentic work-related experience in conducting clinical trials is difficult within the constraints of a university course. Students undertaking courses in the design and management of clinical trials cannot experiment on humans due to practical and ethical reasons. This study evaluates the use of an online virtual environment, called the Island, as a method for overcoming these limitations by giving students the opportunity to conduct clinical trials in a virtual world. In this study, the Island was integrated into tutorial and projects for a course in clinical trial design and management. Island-based tutorials were used to demonstrate, apply, reinforce and assess understanding of clinical trial concepts covered in lectures. The Island was also used for project-based work where students designed a clinical trial, developed a research proposal, conducted the trial using the Island, wrote up a research report and participated in a clinical audit. This paper describes the integration of the Island into the clinical trial course and evaluates students’ perceptions of its implementation. The major strengths and limitations of the implementation are discussed. The authors conclude that delivering future courses without the use of the Island would be difficult to conceive.