Author: lynric

Preparing Faculty to Teach Online and Blended/Hybrid Courses

As the demand for online and blended/hybrid courses increases, necessary technologies rapidly morph and faculty members require more training and development for this new technology.  While the use of some time-management techniques have been shown to have some effect on faculty members’ ability to better handle the load, very little research specifically investigates how faculty members teaching online and blended/hybrid courses handle the often time-consuming process of keeping courses on the cutting edge (Whalen, 2009).   One study shows that faculty members tend to shy away from teaching blended courses because they need more time to master the instruction’s complexity, to plan and organize, adjust to the role, and learn and adopt the new technologies (Ocak, 2011).  In addition, faculty members in this study reported a lack of institutional support and a lack of effective communication to get an online or blended/hybrid course started (Ocak, 2011).  With so many potential issues with adding online and blended/hybrid classes to a course load, teachers must be receive additional training and support, including technical skills, pedagogical awareness, and time management practices,  (Gonzalez, 2009; Ocak, 2011; Whalen, 2009).

     Time management practices can include: work-life balance planning, using technology appropriately, delegation, prioritizing, and goal setting (Whalen, 2009).  Having additional support and training in these areas can greatly aide a faculty member’s transition from a traditional classroom to an online or blended/hybrid environment.  Some suggestions for adding support in these areas includes using email that give tips to faculty members either planning or teaching an online or blended/hybrid course(s) (Whalen, 2009).  While emails can offer support, more formal training from the university will increase faculty members’ views of having institutional support and more effective communication with the institution.  A formal training can also provide opportunities for questions and concerns to be addressed and resolved as much as possible.  In addition, while blended/hybrid  courses give teachers a great deal of freedom to help students learn, it won’t be obvious to them how they can spend their time in an optimal way; proper time management training can help alleviate this (Hernandez, 2011). 

     Training in time management can help solve some of faculty members’ frequent fears about teaching online or blended/hybrid courses.  Planning and organizing can be easily addressed as an extension of time management, which brings opportunities for better course designs and more effective learning.  Adjusting to the role of teaching online or blended/hybrid courses can also become a portion of the time management training, as faculty learn the balance required from them and ways to manage the new role effectively.  

Faculty also need to be trained to conceive teaching as a student-focused endeavor to help them frame e-learning as an opportunity for them to support “quality learning experiences” (Gonzalez, 2009).  Teachers with a teaching focus may tend to compartmentalize face-to-face and online learning, instead of integrating them to amplify or personalize learning.  In fact, without a learning-focused approach, online and blended/hybrid courses will likely do little to enhance student learning (Gonzalez, 2009).  Faculty preparing to teach online or blended/hybrid courses need to be introduced to a student-focused approach for their course(s) and be impressed upon on how important this approach will be for not only their students’ experience, but also for their own perception of and experience with online and blended/hybrid teaching.  Such pedagogical awareness will bring greater ease to the transition into faculty members’ new role and help to plan and organize the course(s) more effectively.

Technical training will also help prepare faculty members for teaching online and blended/hybrid courses, as well as maintain competency for those already teaching these courses.  Because technology changes so frequently, new software and hardware become available almost daily that could enhance the learning experience in an online or blended/hybrid course.  Institutions can offer greater support to their faculty by giving regular training on what technologies can be effectively used with the equipment available.  Such training will also increase faculty members’ confidence in their ability to teach courses in this way (Ocak, 2011).  Proper technical training will also help with time management as faculty can more competently choose technologies that will work best with their class design.

Although being new to teaching online and blended/hybrid courses can be very intimidating for faculty members, much can be done to help them be prepared and more comfortable.  An institution must offer support through training in time management, changing faculty members’ pedagogical approach, and adequate technical training.

References

Gonzalez, C (2009). Teaching in ‘blended’ learning environments: How are conceptions of teaching and eTeaching associated? Proceedings ascilite Auckland, 2009.

Hernandez, A (2011). Blended learning’s impact on teacher development. Clayton Christensen Institute, July 11, 2011. Retrieved from <http://www.christenseninstitute.org/blended-learnings-impact-on-teacher-development/&gt;.

Ocak, MA (2011). Whay are faculty members not teaching blended courses? Insights from faculty members. Computers & Education: 56(3): 689-699.

Whalen, MA (2009). Is time on their side? Exploring faculty time management in online and blended/hybrid higher education. Boston College Dissertations: 3387399.
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Integrating Technologies in Teaching Medicine by Eric L. Osborn

Because of the risks often involved within the medical profession, medical education and training must provide experiences that bring confidence and proficiency in carrying out necessary procedures.  Although numerous technologies are currently involved in medical education and training, great strides are being made to further improve the education and training within the medical field.

Technology can greatly aide performance and instruction within the medical field, where the concept of “learning by doing” carries too much risk.  While problem-based learning offers a good beginning for medical education, the nature of the positions these students will hold demands that technologies be developed, improved and utilized.  Technologies currently being improved in the field will bring detailed change in medical education and training because of the sophistication of the technologies.  Existing technologies being improved include: Web-based teaching, and real-time automated tools, including virtual reality and high-fidelity simulation programs.  Using these technologies will enable students to learn by seeing detailed demonstrations and participating in virtual reality simulations, so that when they actually “do” the procedure on a patient, they have a higher level of proficiency, thus lowering the risks.  This approach becomes particularly important with rare procedures, where these procedures can be completed over again and again in a virtual reality, despite the unavailability to perform the “real” procedure.  (Vozenilek et al., 2004)

As simulations and virtual reality technology improve, medical students, residents, and other trainees will be able to complete very realistic procedures over and over again, possibly gaining great proficiency, before ever attempting the procedure on a real patient.  Improving these processes should improve medical training and bring better results on the job.  While great strides have been made in medical technologies and medical training technologies, there is a need for continual improvement, especially in virtual reality.  Much of the current virtual reality currently in use utilizes computerize models, where even microscopic views are available.  In addition, students can perform a full surgery using tools connected to a virtual reality program.

The following video provides a good example of how virtual reality can aid in medical training:

The use of virtual reality in the medical field goes beyond education and training.  Virtual reality can also be used to treat phobias and numerous mental health issues, including bulimia (Gian, et al., 2013) and post-traumatic stress disorder, which bring a different side to this medical technology.  It can be used for physicians to practice a difficult surgery beforehand or help the process with image-guided surgery (Szekely and Satava, 1999).  Neurosurgeons especially benefit from virtual reality training and practice, where little room for error exists (Chan et al., 2013).  Virtual reality can also aide in remote diagnosis for patients in remote areas or to help with specialty areas (Szekely and Satava, 1999).  The more realistic the various aspects of virtual reality become, the better the training experiences.  For example, the way tools behave in a virtual reality situation should be as close as possible to how they would behave in a real procedure.

Current simulation programs can imitate real-life situations quite accurately.  Clinical problem-solving can also be used when using simulations, with computerized mannequins that can imitate numerous emergency situations.  Simulations can also include aspects of virtual reality.  The following video gives a helpful overview of simulation technologies currently in use:

Simulation-based medical education with deliberate practice has been found to bring better training results when compared to traditional clinical practices (McGaghie, et al., 2011, Singer, et al., 2012, Cook, et al., 2011).  For example, one study found that first-year medical students trained with simulations performed significantly better than third-year medical students trained without simulations on clinical care competency (Singer, et al., 2012).  Another study found that simulation-based medical education show significant improvements in knowledge, skills, and behaviors, while showing moderate improvements in patient-related outcomes (Cook, et al., 2011).  Thus, the use of technology in medical education appears to bring a better overall situation in the medical field.  As technologies for medical simulations improve, these positive affects may increase.

The technologies being used are quite impressive in their own right; however, possible advances in this field are many and can greatly improve education and training abilities.  As an instructor or a student in the medical field, being open to using new technologies in the classroom or in clinical experiences will likely bring better outcomes for student abilities.  

Resources

Chan, S, Conti, F, Salisbury, K, Blevins, N (2013). Virtual reality simulation in neurosurgery: Technologies and evolution. Neurosurgery: 72 (p A154-A164).

Cook, DA, et al. (2011). Technology-enhanced simulation for health professionals education: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American Medical Association: 306(9).

Gian, LC, et. al (2013). Virtual reality for enhancing the cognitive behavioral treatment of obesity with binge eating disorder: Randomized controlled study with one-year follow-up. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 15(6): e113.

McGaghie, WC, Issenberg, SB, Cohen, ER, Barsuk, JH, Wayne, DB (2011). Does simulation-based medical education with deliberate practice yield better results than traditional clinical education? A meta-analytic comparative review of the evidence. Academic Medicine: 86(6): 706-711.

Singer, BD, Corbridge, TC, Schroedl, CJ, Wilcox, JE, Cohen, ER, McGaghie, WC, Wayne, DB (2012). First-year residents outperform third-year residents after simulation-based education in critical care medicine. Simulation in Healthcare: The Journal of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare: 8(2): 67-71.

Szekely, G and Satava, RM (1999). Virtual reality in medicine. British Medical Journal. 319 (7220): 1305.
Vozenilek, J, Huff, JS, Reznek, M, Gordon, JA (2004). See one, do one, teach one: Advanced technology in medical education. ACAD Emergency Medicine. 11 (11).