“Great Expectations”

 I have to admit the idea of “instructional design” seems rather intimidating to me.  At the same time, the concept is also exciting!  Thus, as I begin this third course in e-learning, I find my expectations at both ends of the spectrum.  I expect to be challenged.  At the same time, I expect to find relevant applications for e-learning in graduate medical education (GME) which can be applied to my current work setting.  My hope is that even if I am frustrated and challenged along the way, the end result will be the gratification of learning new approaches to assist in the education of our surgical trainees.

The first two classes in this track have focused on introducing us to concepts, theories and exploration of digital applications which are relevant to e-learning.  It seems only natural to now step into the realm of real world application of this information and experience.  Simultaneously, I am working on a project whereby we are piloting a program using virtual patients to develop the abilities of critical thinking in our general surgery residents.  The program provides the residents with patients who present with a set of symptoms and/or complaints and the trainees make decisions regarding what labs and/or diagnostic tests to order, what examinations to perform and what questions to ask.  Ultimately, an operative procedure may be performed and decision making may occur throughout the operative procedure or be applied to a complication which occurs following a procedure.  When a case is completed by a resident, they receive a report card which provides a score and feedback on their decision making throughout the case.  We have decided to follow up the cases with group discussions led by faculty experts so that the residents can talk through their decision making and faculty members can provide a rationale for best practices.   Thus, a blended learning environment will be attempted.   I have given some thought to introducing concept mapping as a way to visually demonstrate decision making.  

I anticipate the research assignment in this course will be particularly useful.  I want to look at assessment and evaluation.  Outcome measures are now required in GME so researching how to assess and evaluate our residents’  abilities in six core competencies will be very valuable.  These competencies include medical knowledge, patient care, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, practice based learning and systems based practice.  Developing tools which allow us to document our trainees’ progress from novice to expert will be paramount.  I look forward to becoming more knowledgeable as to how we can better document this progress.

Finally, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the excitement and anticipation which accompanies me at the beginning of this course is also coupled with a degree of reservation and anxiety regarding the workload and my ability to perform at a desired level of proficiency.  It is fanciful to think that learning can just be about exploration and discovery and that failure can ultimately become a means to success but the fact of the matter is that there are always those pesky things called “grades” and the time sensitive way in which we must achieve them.  Ideally, we wouldn’t have to deal with them but that is simply not the case.   Oh well, it is what it is.  I shall attempt to enthusiastically immerse myself into the process of learning, nevertheless!  On that note, I’m ready to take the plunge into ADLT 642!

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6 Responses to “Great Expectations”

  1. lsniestrath says:

    Hey, Wally
    Your sentiments seem to pervade each blog that I read from your classmates. I’m really glad that I will have the benefit of all of the MOOCing around that I am going to do. Those courses, in and of themselves, are going to be overwhelming. It will be interesting for me to participate in an online culture before I create one. My only experience in this realm was a hybrid LMS that contained relatively little in terms of 21st century literacy, although that was the title of the course.
    Your new GMS program sounds exciting. The ability to use what you’re learning in class and watch how it unfolds will certainly be exciting. There’s no substitute for a real world observation, yes?
    I look forward to “lurking.”

  2. Katherine says:

    I’m excited to be working on real world applications too! It sounds like your work project will tie directly into what we’ll be learning about, and that the design aspect of instruction may help inform the decisions for the hybrid format. How do the residents like online instruction?

    • In general, the residents embrace the online environment. I think there is an “untapped” resource in e-learning and surgical training which makes this particularly experiment all the more appealing. It will be interesting to see how things develop. I think there is great potential for learning for all involved.

  3. Melissa says:

    I’m excited about the research assignments too! I am looking forward to doing the research (so far I’ve only picked typography) but also to reading everyone’s “papers” as well!

    I think it’s great that you are able to use what we learn in class right away (like Rhett)! I hope that you are able to come up with solutions required to take the program to the next level. I look forward to you blogging about more of your personal experience!

    I have anxiety about the workload too, but I’m comforted knowing everyone else feels the same way. Like you, I have VERY high personal standards, probably higher than the grading standards, so I want to do everything perfectly, and that takes a lot of time.

  4. Joanne Even says:

    I am jealous that you have immediate, real-world application for what we’ll be exploring this semester. I think the learning sinks in faster and deeper when you’re able to find ways to incorporate it right away. I hope I’m not speaking out of turn when I say this, but I think we’re all feeling a little anxious. As in 640 and 641, we’ll pull each other through this, and come May we’ll have a lot to show for our efforts!

    • That actually puts me at ease a bit to know that I am not the only one feeling a little “anxious” about the objectives of this course. I feel fortunate to have this project going on, but at the same time I feel the pressure of making the connection between the two. It shall be interesting to see how it all falls out. I am also confident that you will find relevant connections in your personal and professional worlds. There always seems to be “rich soil”!

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