When I first started in my ETEC journey, my definition of technology was very general. Just as Muffoletto (1994) describes, I thought of it “in terms of gadgets, instruments, machines, and devices” that assist humans in achieving a task. But as I journey through this program, my ideas of technology started to change, particularly in regards to educational technologies. As such, the definition by Jonassen (2000) really resonates with me. I feel in order for something to be considered an educational technology it should have the features of what Jonassen (2000) terms “mind tools”; those tools which help construct knowledge, not just disseminate information to the learner. This leads to a deeper understanding of information and internalization/reorganization within the learner.
In regards to design of my ideal TELE in med ed, it would be a small room that looks like of the picture below from minority report (TV show).
A group of 5-8 students, would work around together around technology enhanced table to do problem based learning. The technology would be used to organize their collaborative thoughts, collect data, communicate ideas between members, and manipulate certain parameters (if appropriate) in order to progress through a medical problem. I think educational technology should be a tool that helps construct knowledge, and the environment should allow for collaboration and team work.
This interview involved Dr C, who is a maternal fetal medicine specialist, located at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. She is also an associate professor of the Faculty of Medicine at University of Alberta. She has been teaching for 14 years. She teaches a variety of learners from undergraduate students, to postgraduate residents, ultrasound technicians and students. She does large lectures at the university, but also does a lot of small group teaching and bedside teaching. This interview was conducted on May 31, 2017 at 4:30 in the maternal fetal medicine clinic. The three key concepts that arose during our interview was Training, Context and Flexibility
Dr C felt that one of the greatest barriers to integrating technology into her teaching practice is training. She states that she is “interested in trying to keep up to date with technology and have been trying to be an enthusiastic adaptor” but at the same time comments that she is a bit of a “luddite”. She identified time as well as geography as a barrier to training. “I’m a very busy clinical and the patient practice sometimes makes it difficult to coordinate time to learn some of the new technologies that we could use for teaching and learning”. Her clinic is also geographically separated from the university, which is where all of the faculty development activities occur. She seems to feel disadvantaged compared to clinicians located at the University Hospital in this regard. She also states that being a “cyber immigrant” makes it more time consuming for her to grasp some concepts and learn to use technology in the classroom.
When discussing the use of technology and whether it was useful to enhance learning, she really felt that this dependent on the context. In a small group discussion or with bedside teaching, she feels that students are engaged regardless of technology and that technology did not enhance learning in this setting. But in a large group session, she finds students are less willing to be interactive without some form of technology that facilitates this.
We discussed her goals when she is integrating technology into her teaching, she stated that her main goal was “to make it interesting and in a format that the learners are more used to learning from”. She thought it was important to be able to present information visually and audibly. She felt that vodcasts allowed students to learn and review concepts at their own pace. It seemed that flexibility and accessibility for students was an important component to her teaching and she felt that students demanded this. I initially labeled this student-centred but changed it to flexibility, as the material that is taught is still knowledge centred or teacher-centred.
My reflections on the interview
My interview with Dr C further solidified by opinion that medical education is slow to change compared to K-12, and large class sizes adds an added dimension of challenge. Dr C identified a few challenges but I don’t think it’s unique to just her. I think many clinician-educators have difficulty due to time constraints and their other responsibilities such as patient care, administration etc. Financial limitations may also contribute. Many physicians are paid fee for service, and the educational component in many cases is done for free. Though this system is likely to change in the future, for now it seems that education is not as valued as services provided to patients. There needs to be a cultural change where innovation in education is as valuable to the university as research and services provided to patients. Only then will we see pedagogical changes within medical education.
The one issue that really stood out to me was how vastly the use of technology in the classroom varied from one example to the other. For example, in case 6, the technology itself had nothing to do with the science lesson. This is in contrast with the STEM class from Case 1. So, if the technology has nothing to do with the lesson, does using it actually translate to better engagement and understanding of the topics in question? Specifically, does making a powerpoint presentation, animation or podcast lead to a deeper understanding of the material? I guess the only way to answer this question is to conduct research to look into this or do a literature review to see if anyone has researched this particular question. Making a presentation is a time consuming activity and uses resources, and it would be great to be able to justify this by stating that this leads to deeper understanding of the material, or higher level of understanding/knowledge per Bloom’s taxonomy.
When I initially reflected on these questions, I didn’t think there was much from my own experience that constituted “good” use of technology in the (medical) science classroom. Most of the technology used in our classroom (which is actually a lecture theatre) is powerpoint, LMS, vodcasts etc. Though this has increased accessibility to lecture material and allows students to learn in different environments and at their convenience, it’s still a didactic process and doesn’t fit with constructivist learning theories. But, medical education goes beyond the lecture theatre. Students and instructors are now using social media, high and low fidelity simulators, apps and games, as well as google docs to create collaborative pieces of work. When I consider these technologies, I feel that it is an effective tool in medical education. When I think about “good” use of digital technology, I always refer back to Chickering’s 7 principles. I can’t remember them all but some of these principles include student collaboration, active learning, and interactions between faculty and students. Social media, simulators, apps/games, as well as google docs all promote at least one of these seven principles.
When considering medical education, especially at the pre clerkship level the greatest challenge that I perceive is the large class sizes. At my institution, one class has approximately 160 students. To promote the use of chickering’s 7 principles in the context of digital technologies, it may require more small group work and facilitation of sessions by multiple faculty (as opposed to one lecturer). This model also presents a challenge as finding multiple faculty members is difficult considering that many teaching faculty in medicine are either part time or full time clinicians.
It was really interesting to see Heather before and after formal instruction. Heather is really confident about her theories regarding the seasons, earth’s rotation and the phases of the moon. Then she is confronted with contradicting information, which challenged her own conceptions. Surprisingly, she modified some theories (such as the rotation of the earth around the sun) but held on to other theories (such as her definition of direct and indirect light). Heather’s own theories must have been derived from her prior experience, readings or teaching which she incorporated into her knowledge base. As Driver et al. points out in Children’s Ideas In Science, these ideas and interpretations are personal and sone ideas remain stable (like the direct and indirect light idea), such that formal instruction did not modify her ideas.
Seafood allergy and iodine
A commonly held misconception in medicine is the link between seafood and/or shellfish allergy and iodine. I encounter this quite often as I am a surgeon and we use povidone-iodine as a topical antiseptic that is applied to the skin or other tissues before surgery. I’m not sure where it comes from but many physicians and nurses believe that seafood and/or shellfish allergy is a contraindication to the use of iodine. It seems to be a commonly held belief that is perpetuated in both disciplines. And no matter how much evidence to the contrary is presented, the operating room management refuses to recognize the safety of its use in this population of patients. This misunderstanding likely stems from the fact that seafood and shellfish contain high levels of iodine. But many other foods also contain iodine. In addition, the allergen causing anaphylaxis or other severe allergy with seafood/shellfish is NOT iodine. In fact, we learn in our medical education that iodine is a essential mineral needed for proper thyroid function. Just as in Heather’s example, I can present my colleagues with evidence to the contrary yet their ideas remain stable. I often wonder if these stable ideas are more difficult to change in adults that have completed their education (aside from the mandatory continuing education that is required of our professions). According to Posner et al, who refers to the change in stable ideas as accommodation, there are certain conditions that must be met before accommodation will occur:
1) there must be dissatisfaction with existing conceptions
2) a new conception must be intelligible
3) a new conception must appear initially plausible
4) a new concept should suggest the possibility of a fruitful research program
Given the above, I think the greatest barrier is dissatisfaction with existing conceptions. It seems that there isn’t enough motivation to change their existing conceptions, because there is minimal dissatisfaction with what they believe. One way to address this using digital technology is to use something like simulation to visually show the difference between using povidone-iodine as a skin preparation versus the alternative that is currently used in patients that have shellfish/seafood allergies. Or a visual presentation on molecular mechanism of seafood/shellfish allergy to demonstrate that their ideas are in direct contradiction to scientific findings. Just having a conversation without hands-on activities to engage them may not be effective.
While looking into misconceptions in medical education, I came across a really interesting article that looked at novice biology teachers, and their misconceptions (Yip, 1998). According to this article misconceptions in science after formal instruction can be categorized into three groups:
1) informal ideas formed from everyday experiences which children bring with them to the classroom
2) incomplete or improper views developed by students during classroom instruction
3) erroneous concepts propagated by teachers as well as textbooks.
Yip states that for many complex and abstract phenomena, such as mechanisms of circulation and other medical topics, children are less likely to develop their own explanations/ideas because they would be unlikely to come in direct contact with these topics in daily life. Thus, these misconceptions are derived from the latter two categories. In Yip’s study of 26 secondary biology teachers (all university graduates with majors in biological science), he identified many basic biological concepts that were misunderstood by them. Some of these misconceptions were a result of oversimplification of concepts and erroneous information propagated in some text books, as well as misuse or imprecise use of terminology. Perhaps this is another area that should be explored when looking into the origins of students’ misconceptions.
- Driver, R., Guesne, E., & Tiberghien, A. (1985). Children’s ideas and the learning of science. Children’s ideas in science, 1-9. Available online: search the title using any engine. https://staff.fnwi.uva.nl/e.joling/vakdidactiek/documenten/driver.pdf
- Posner, G. J., Strike, K. A., Hewson, P. W. and Gertzog, W. A. (1982). Accommodation of a scientific conception: Toward a theory of conceptual change. Sci. Ed., 66: 211–227
- Yip, D. (1998). Identification of misconceptions in novice biology teachers and remedial strategies for improving biology learning. International Journal of Science Education. 20:4. 461-411. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0950069980200406
My earliest well-remembered memory of using a computer in school was when I played Oregon Trail. I can’t even remember how long ago that was, but sometime in elementary school. Only those students that finished their assignments were allowed to play this game. I remember loving it, and didn’t even consider it an educational activity at the time. Looking back, this shows how gamification is a really effective pedagogical tool and I would certainly like to delve into the theories behind gamification and how it could be used effectively in math and science education.
I am super excited to say that this will be my 10th and final course in this program. I started this journey back in 2013, and am pleased to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The more courses I do, the more I realize there’s so much more to know!! This program has opened my eyes to a vast array of possibilities and I feel like I’m just seeing the tip of the iceberg.
I am a gynecologist working in Edmonton but I also teach in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at University of Alberta. My learners span our entire educational spectrum from medical students to post graduate residents and fellows trying to specialize in urogynecology. I am hoping that this course will allow me to explore some digital technologies that I could potentially use with my learners.
On a more personal note, I am 6 months into my first pregnancy! It’s been a relatively smooth ride. . . . I’m just hoping the kiddo stays in there until the end of this course! Wish me luck!