Participants in CENTILE Colloquium Discuss Use of Technology and Simulation in Teaching

Posted in GUMC Stories

JUNE 25, 2015—At the second Annual Colloquium for GUMC Educators in the Health Professions, panelists from a range of disciplines shared strategies for improving teaching and education, including using technology and simulations to enhance students’ learning experiences.

The June 2 event at Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center was the second of its kind organized by the Center for Innovation and Leadership in Education (CENTILE). “CENTILE was established two years ago to be the institutional venue to bring together a community of educators across all sectors — the hospital, the School of Nursing, the School of Medicine, the graduate programs – everywhere where faculty are engaged in education,” said Aviad Haramati, Ph.D. (new window), professor of integrative physiology and director of CENTILE.

“As educators, we have much in common despite the fact that we’re in different schools or different sectors or different departments,” Haramati said. “And so today is really a day in which we are going to learn about what we’re doing in education and what innovations are taking place.”

As executive vice president for health sciences, Howard J. Federoff, MD, PhD, was instrumental in CENTILE’s establishment in April 2013. “If I look back on eight years, among the most important things that we did when we set out our strategic planning effort in 2008 was really recognizing the importance of education,” he said.

Using technology to maximize class time

As an early-career lecturer in embryology, Ian Gallicano, PhD (new window), associate professor of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, quickly found that he had too much information to cover in class and not enough time to cover it, frustrating him and his students. “Over the years, as I took on more lectures and more responsibility, the feedback from students was always the same – too much information, too difficult to comprehend,” he said. “And I had to agree with them on it.”

To stretch the amount of class time he could spend teaching, Gallicano used the most important slides from his lectures to create five short video primers for students to watch before class and rewatch if necessary. The primers were followed by brief quizzes to ensure the students understood the content. Watching the primer and taking the quiz before class took less than 10 minutes.

Last year, Gallicano’s students reported that the videos helped them gain a better understanding of embryology. Short video primers can be used to offer background information, focus on fundamentals or even replace an entire lecture. “In essence, now you can restructure the lecture time to use it for questions and answers about the primer,” Gallicano said.

In her flipped classroom approach to teaching, Jennifer Whitney, PhD (new window), assistant professor of pharmacology, also gives students short videos followed by quizzes. After the quiz, Whitney’s students receive a new set of self-directed learning (SDL) questions that require additional research to answer, which they later discuss in class.

“With flipping the classroom, we give them information outside and then when they get to the classroom, it decompresses the time and allows us to help them to apply this to clinical settings,” Whitney said.

The SDL workshops received positive feedback from Whitney’s students and led to increased attendance in class. “When you have something like this, they come because they know that you can’t really listen to it at home, they won’t get as much out of it,” Whitney said. “So the attendance is really good.”

Learning through simulation 

Speakers at the colloquium also discussed teaching methods that allow students to practice putting themselves in positions they will face in their careers. Susan Pennestri, assistant director for learning design and technologies at the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS), discussed a project led by Stacey Kaltman, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry, that enabled students to practice their communication skills in a low-stakes setting with interactive patient-physician simulations.

Using branching software designed for corporate training exercises, CNDLS developed three different interview simulations that students access through Blackboard. At the end of each simulation, students reflect on the types of questions they asked, the information they received and assess their overall performance.

“Generally, student responses to the simulations were positive. Across all simulations, most agreed or strongly agreed that the simulations helped them to improve their communication skills,” Pennestri said.

As future medical professionals, students in the School of Medicine need to know how to respond to a public health emergency so last fall, Yumi Jarris, MD (new window), professor of family medicine, and an interprofessional team of faculty led all second-year students in a tabletop exercise simulating an influenza pandemic.

Students were given readings in advance, assigned roles and asked to remain in character as an imaginary influenza pandemic unfolded. Jarris also recruited local emergency response experts to participate in the simulation, giving students insights into the roles of different organizations. “We tapped people in public health organizations, at GUMC, at MedStar and in the private sector, some of whom had actually led efforts during 9/11, Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, anthrax,” she said. “So it was a very talented group of experts.”

Student surveys before and after the simulation indicated that it helped them build confidence in their ability to respond well to a public health emergency. Jarris hopes to include students from different disciplines in future simulations. “It would be great to include not just nursing but public policy and health administration students. That would be wonderful.”

Planning for 2016

With 48 abstracts, 23 podium presentations and 22 posters, the 2015 CENTILE colloquium was a great success and organizers are already planning for the 2016 colloquium, said Pamela Saunders, PhD, associate professor of neurology and psychiatry and chair of the event. “The feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” Saunders said. “Participants felt one of the best aspects of the colloquium was the opportunity to connect with like-minded colleagues holding similar interests. We plan to offer a greater variety of formats and workshops for the third annual colloquium in June of 2016.”

Kat Zambon
GUMC Communications