We live in a fast-paced, increasingly tech-driven world. Technology has taken the lead in so many industries because it makes our lives easier, renders our actions more efficient, and delivers information faster than anything we’ve ever developed before.
The most powerful aspect of this tech-takeover may be, however, the way in which we can apply technology to solve existing problems in different industries. For example, tele-health programs have been developed because they offer a solution to the subset of people who are either too busy or don’t think they are sick enough to physically come see their doctor.
In the field of education, a similar set of tools is emerging; solutions to setbacks, challenges, or gaps that have existed in the traditional education landscape. As we explore these solutions, we can imagine the application of technical solutions to independent medical education (IME) and their potential impact on its users.
In the NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition, the New Media Consortium (NMC) published its findings in researching the most impactful technology advances in the field of education. They approach these tools from the perspective that there are solutions that can be implemented now, those that can be implemented over the course of a few years, and others that will take more time to integrate into the landscape of the education field.
Digital Strategies, such as the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) design and the Flipped Classroom model, are simply new applications to existing technologies.
BYOD is the practice of learners bringing their portable device to class and using it to create their own workspace. This immediately individualizes their experience, allowing them to have the tools they are most familiar with and most comfortable with at their fingertips. The presence of individual-provided electronic devices also expands the possibilities of tech applications the teacher can use during class time.
The Flipped Classroom turns the traditional concept of learners watching lectures in-person and doing homework problems independently on its head. Studies have shown that learners are more engaged and absorb more by actively problem-solving with other students. In a Flipped Classroom, learners watch lectures from home at a time that is convenient to them and attend class ready to problem solve with their teacher and peers.
Digital strategies work well in IME. Healthcare professionals (HCPs) traditionally use their own portable devices throughout their day and may find it quite convenient to use them in class. In addition, the Flipped Classroom’s interactive classroom focus and flexible lecture option suit medical education and the ways in which it needs to be taught and absorbed.
Learning & Visualization Technologies
Learning Analytics can be used to test how each learner is absorbing the information as they progress through the course. This takes the passivity out of watching a lecture or moving through an online webinar.
As the analytics tool detects that the student is struggling to grasp the concepts, it can slow down and provide more explanations or direct the student back to another section for review.
If a student’s responses indicate that they are quickly and easily moving through the material, it can adapt to them and offer more challenging questions, additional insights, or a faster pace.
Augmented and Virtual Reality are exciting, cutting-edge technologies that can bring educational material to life. Augmented reality tools integrate pictures, audio, and video into real-world spaces. Medical simulation environments provide HCPs with valuable, hands-on practice opportunities; the artificial environment is a safe one in which to try new techniques, learn about an emerging technology, or hone existing skills.
By blending reality and virtual reality, they allow the learner to simulate a prospective situation while learning how to react to it. Virtual reality takes this concept one step further; through wearable devices, the learner is able to step into a virtual reality and experience some of the sensory input they simulate. This provides as close to a real-world practice session as they could ever get.
The complexity of medical concepts makes these tools that much more applicable to IME. Learning analytics can track how the HCP is absorbing the information, and virtual reality tools can take their experience to the next level by simulating real clinical scenarios.
Internet Tools & Enabling Technologies
The internet offers a large spectrum of tools, not the least of which are those available to learners. Bibliometrics and Citation Technologies simplify and clarify the citation process. Cloud Computing protects data and documents while keeping them easily accessible. Networked Objects makes the exchange of information seamless.
Enabling Technologies can be a significant part of the bridge between the material and the user. Flexible Displays, Next-Generation Batteries, Speech-to-Speech Translation, and Wireless Power are just a few of the technological advances that meet the student where they are and seek to overcome any learning or physical limitation that they may have.
This category of advances is the “icing on the cake” of tech solutions in IME. They can be applied in a number of different ways to enhance the learning experience for HCP users.
Since technology sits still for no one, it follows that we must keep pace with it. IME is not only doing this, but is becoming deeply entwined with new technological advances. And we can all benefit from that.