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!