The year 2020 has been a year of upheaval. The COVID pandemic revealed disparities in healthcare and its effects on marginalized groups such as the Black community. The pervasive effects of structural racism affect all of us, including in medical education. We cannot and must not remain silent. As we honor Juneteenth, #BlackLivesMatter, and #WhiteCoatsforBlackLives, let us reflect on ways we can address racial injustice in our direct environment.
Given the epidemiological data from China and Italy, educators should be prepared for the likelihood that online learning will continue to be the norm for many weeks to months. Simply running disconnected weekly educational sessions without an overall organization will hinder educational success for learners. Learning Management Systems (LMS) are a tool that can support educational leaders with the delivery, assessment, and organization of learning.
Providing content is great, but learner assessment is crucial in order to measure educational impact. Digital assessment is valid and reliable; it allows for multiple evaluations and gives learners the opportunity to actively participate in the educational process. Testing for most types of summative and formative evaluations can be done digitally. In this post, we describe the most suitable and reliable tools for assessing learners remotely.
A significant portion of the technology industry is built around social media and asynchronous chat platforms that seek to connect people. Modern tools are designed with the intention to maximize engagement with push notifications, engagements, and emoji/like integrations that maximize the “dopamine rush” for users; “social media addiction” is a known phenomenon. These tools, when repurposed for learning, provide an easy and user-friendly platform for learners to discuss educational objectives. Chats are the quickest communication form, occurring in real-time and encouraging spontaneity and adaptation. There is a sense of forgiveness, and oftentimes if the chat is anonymous, a high degree of confidence for participation among learners. Use of a moderator is a KEY factor in keeping the discussion professional (and alive!) .
Although you can still use technologies like Zoom or Webex to conduct small group meetings, residency programs may find it prudent to stick to known platforms rather than trying to upskill a large group of faculty and trainees. This is where technologies like Skype and Google Meets (which is the reinvented version of Google Hangouts) can come in. Of note, Google has recently announced that they have made their usually paywalled platform (Google Meet) free during the age of coronavirus, as their way of helping those schools and teachers looking to continue their practice during these difficult times.
Recording your content so it can be broadcasted, also called live streaming, can be helpful if you want to reach your audience in real-time. Recording your content for later viewing is useful for trainees who may be clinically unable to attend (they are working, they are post-nights, etc..) or for faculty who are unavailable too. (link to prior ALiEM videos). It’s also a way to double-dip this COVID-19 catastrophe into the generation of a more enduring product of digital scholarship. So, go for it, record that lecture you’ve been meaning to record… Share your thoughts with the world!