A conference called “A 2020 Vision of Faculty Development Across the Medical Education Continuum” was held at Baylor College of Medicine in 2010. At this conference, experts convened to discuss the changing role of technologies in medical education.
Their conclusions were summarized in this Academic Medicine article, which discusses 5 trends and 5 recommendations.
- Explosion of new information: It has been postulated that the world’s body of knowledge will double every 35 days by 2015. We are in an age of information explosion. Physicians will have to be able to process an ongoing onslaught of information throughout their career. Learning how to sustain lifelong learning will be critical.
- Digitization of all information: Medical records are slowly transitioning to an all-electronic format. Also in the age of Web 2.0, much of the digital content in health care are posted by the learners. Medical schools and residency programs will have to shift their approach to teaching, disseminating, filtering, and supporting learning in this digital age.
- New generation of learners: Learners in medical schools are primarily “digital natives”. They have grown up with primarily digital textbooks and references. They have grown up with Facebook and Google. In contrast, educators are usually “digital settlers” — not “born digital” but now “live digital”.
- Emergence of new instructional technologies: In the Web 2.0 age, there are a myriad of online tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, and virtual learning environments.
- Accelerating change: Computers will increasingly play a greater role in our everyday lives. I imagine something like the Minority Report movie. The future is almost here.
- Use technology to support learning: Technology shouldn’t replace face-to-face learning but rather supplement areas which are better served using technology. Technology definitely helps with geographically distant learning groups, teaching deliberate practice using simulation, and individualizing learning plans.
- Focus on the fundamentals: Keep your eye on the prize. Don’t be tempted to use the new technologies for the sake of being current. First and foremost, focus on learner needs and the course objectives.
- Allocate a variety of resources: Faculty should be taught how to effectively use instructional technologies in faculty development workshops. Furthermore, “e-learning specialists” should be available to help faculty create effective courses. These specialists include Web designers, videographers, and e-learning management system experts.
- Support and recognize faculty as they adopt new technologies: Institutional grants should be created to support faculty who want to adopt new instructional technologies. Furthermore, University promotion committees should value e-learning teaching modalities as academic scholarship. I wholeheartedly support this second statement– my blog is still considered a “hobby” rather an academic pursuit. Good thing I love doing this.
- Foster collaboration: We, as educators, need to share our ideas and resources nationally and internationally. Examples include the Health Education Assets Library (HEAL), MedEdPORTAL.