School Evaluation Summary

Evaluating my school’s technology use maturity was an interesting process. I was very surprised by how freely they shared information with me. I guess they were confident they would score well. Though this is supposed to be somewhat anonymous it really isn’t for me as there is only one medical school in my city.  I was also surprised by how different people I interviewed gave me very different responses- usually 180 degrees opposite each other. In the end I had to make a decision of who I trusted would have the best insight.

I was surprised by how well the medical school scored. I have been teaching in the school in various ways and settings since 1998 and I guess you don’t always see what is around you. I didn’t realize how much technology we use.  I did find two areas that really need the attention of administration. Planning does not involve stakeholders and formal training is very inadequate. I was unable to figure out who the MEIS (medical education information services) answers to. They do all planning, seemingly on their own. I developed and implemented an online course this year and only had to get approval from the MEC (medical education committee). I never got anyone else involved, nor was I asked to. No one from MEIS ever asked if I had any IT needs to implement the course.

I was somewhat surprised by the students that I interviewed. They felt very inadequate in their IT use skills. I guess the school feels Millennials should know how to use technology.  They are offered NO training at all when they arrive at the medical school. They are expected to learn as they go. I wonder how much early poor performance and anxiety is IT skill related and not medical knowledge related.

I plan to see if the school asks me for my evaluation. They know I undertook it. It will be interesting to see if they have interest in what I found.

Finally, I was surprised at the lack of background information I could find on this model. Either my searching skills are inadequate or the developers of this model have inadequately studied the model or published their findings. It seems to have reasonable face validity. I would like to learn more about it from a more scientific standpoint.

Blazer Medical School Maturity Benchmarks Survey

Blazer Medical School Maturity Benchmarks Evaluation Summary


Tech Trends in Higher Education: Touchcast- the future of video

Online learning is listed twice in the NMC Horizon Report 2014 Higher Education Edition. The whole report was very stimulating and full of incredible ideas. I decided to focus on online learning as I am in the midst of developing a new online course and recently rolled out an online course in evidence-based medicine. Video is major tool for online teaching. There have been limits to how interactive you can make videos. For example, YouTube has an annotations feature that allows you to add links, polls, questions, surveys, etc. You can add pauses to allow learners to think and do various tasks and then the video will restart revealing the answer. New technology has made video more interactive.

Touchcast and HapYak are two tools that can be used to make video interactive. With HapYak you start with a YouTube video and add links, quizzes, and can even divide the video into chapters. This video gives a short overview of how it works. HapYak, while interactive, has limited elements that can be added. Touchcast offers many more options for interactivity.

As mentioned in the video the interactive elements are called video apps or vApps. As you can see in the picture below Touchcast offers many more interactive elements. It also offers the option of developing your own vApp (see “Developer” at the bottom right). Picture of the available apps in TouchcastMy artifact for this assignment is a Touchcast of an online journal club session (Try downloading the Touchcast app at the link above and viewing this Touchcast by searching for “case-control” in the “Explore” area). I plan to use a similar Touchcast in our November resident journal club. I am planning a cross-over intervention.  Several of the residents will do the online journal club while the remainder will participate in the usual face-to-face session. They will then switch to the opposite group so that each resident will complete both the online and face-to-face journal clubs. I will then informally evaluate which they felt was more engaging and educational.

Touchcast is very challenging to use initially. As you can see the audio isn’t tracking properly with the video (i applogize for this but I rerecorded this several times to no avail. Frustrated, I gave up.) I think this is more an issue with the desktop app (still somewhat in beta testing) as I made one other Touchcast previously using the iPad app and it worked fine. After you record a Touchcast you can not edit it. You can not edit individual vApps (other than resizing them) or the title graphic once you create them. All vApps must be created prior to recording a Touchcast. I was unable to reorder the vApps that I created. Some features (background removal and replacement) only work with a specialized camera (that of course they will sell you). Touchcasts are only interactive via the app. While a Touchcast can be uploaded to YouTube (here is mine on YouTube) the interactivity is lost.

Despite these shortcomings both of these tools have the potential benefit of personalizing the learning experience. The Horizon report notes a long-range trend of the evolution of online learning. Online courses must engage students with interactive features leading to a personalized learning experience. Both of these tools engage the learner as they can interact with elements embedded in the videos. Learning can also be personalized as links to multiple different types of materials can be embedded that learners can explore as they desire. Questions could be embedded with links to different videos or other learning materials tailored to the learners’ answers to questions.

This was a fun and stimulating exercise. I look forward to becoming more facile with Touchcast. I also plan to make a YouTube video with embedded questions leading to other videos tailored to the responses to the question. This will be a lot of work but will lead to a more personalized learning experience.

If you have used Touchcast I would like to hear your experiences with it.


Use of Twitter in Medical Education: An Annotated Bibliography

Having previously conducted studies and systematic reviews, literature searching was nothing new for me. I had not previously used Google Scholar as a primary search engine. I mostly use PubMED to search MEDLINE. I like the features that Google Scholar offers and not having to use Boolean logic is a plus. I did not really use the research feature in Google Docs. I felt it was suggesting a lot of useless resources but it could be useful when writing a manuscript or developing an educational document as a source of varied material that could be included.

I had also never developed an annotated bibliography. This was very useful to document my thoughts about each reference and how I might use the information in the future. Here is the link to my annotated bibliography:

I do not like APA style mostly because it is not a style that is used in the medical literature. I find it to be less than user friendly (hanging indent, italics for part of a citation but not all of it???) to develop. AMA style is what I am used to and it is much less stuffy than APA (but what else would you expect from psychologists and psychiatrists). I guess  you just like what you are used to.

I did confirm what I expected with this assignment- there is a paucity of research on the use of Twitter in medical education. There is a paucity of research in using social media in medical education. This will change in the near future as journals are beginning to accept these manuscripts and new journals are being developed for this area (e.g. Journal of Medical Internet Research). I will continue to search for studies in this area with the plan to write a systematic review on the topic. I have also gained some ideas of how I might integrate Twitter into the various types of teaching that I do.

RSS in Education

Prior to this week I had never used RSS. I had seen the ability to add the RSS feed of various websites but never understood what it would do for me. I have at least gained an understanding of what RSS is and what it has to offer. While I have added sites to my Feedly account (see the video demonstrating that here) I’m not sure I will use Feedly or any other RSS aggregator tool in the future. I like visiting individual websites. I only go to a few websites daily so Feedly really doesn’t save me all that much time.  I don’t really like the layout and look of Feedly on my desktop but it is slightly more appealing on my iPad. I am not sure I would use this tool in any classes I teach either. I put the requirement of adding a website to an RSS feed in the learning plan for this assignment but only because it was a requirement. I am not sure how many of my students use this tool in their daily lives. I guess one could argue part of a teacher’s job is to expose students to the possibilities that exist and then let them decide on how best to use a tool beyond the classroom. One problem I have  is that the learning management system we use at UAB School of Medicine has been developed in-house and does not allow the addition of a course RSS feed.  Hopefully as I read others’ posts I will gain a better understanding of how this tool could be used.

I didn’t find this assignment overly difficult. I feel comfortable writing learning objectives though I can always improve. I try to make sure the objective is observable and measurable in some way.  I always develop them first and then immediately write test questions (if there is a test). I believe in only testing on objectives. I then develop teaching materials that only teach to the objectives. I don’t believe in adding extraneous material that doesn’t meet the learning objectives. I rely on my adult learners searching out further information they need or want on their own (adults should be self-directed learners). You may or may not be surprised by how many of my colleagues develop content first then develop objectives and test questions. Furthermore, their test questions may or may not be related to the learning objectives. A lot of students are frustrated by this and don’t trust other professors who tell them to focus on the objectives when studying.

I will use this lesson plan when this elective takes place in the spring (possibly minus the RSS feed portion). I am revamping this elective, so this exercise afforded me the opportunity to start planning out the elective. Always make work count twice if you can.

Here is the link to my lesson plan:


Code of Professional Ethics in Educational Technology

Prior to reflecting on the readings and writing a paper about a real-life ethical scenario I had not considered the broader commitment educational technologists have than educators. As an educator I felt my duty was only to the learner. I wanted to create an optimal learning experience for each person. Educational technologists also have to consider society and the profession when developing educational materials and processes.

The scenario I present in my paper is very similar to an issue I am dealing with personally. I am conflicted about doing a lot of extra work to make all my current videos accessible. I hadn’t previously considered this issue until these readings. I truly don’t feel the amount work necessary will be beneficial to me or my learners but I understand ethically I should do this.I would be more willing to invest the significant time and energy required if I thought I would be helping someone but I have never received any feedback on my videos requesting that they be captioned. As I develop future videos I plan to add captioning so that they are accessible to the hearing impaired.


What is educational technology? Reflections on an evolving concept

I have never really given much thought to what educational technology is. I didn’t realize it was even a field until I began exploring online and mobile learning for a course I developed. The medical school I am affiliated with has one or two instructional designers but no educational technologists. There are only two on the whole UAB campus that I am aware of. The main technologies (besides the usual PowerPoint) we use at UAB in medical education are audience response systems, digital recording of lectures and OSCEs, and simulation. We have smart boards but I have never seen one used. Interestingly, they aren’t in any of the lecture areas but in small group study rooms. Our LMS has been developed in-house and is not sophisticated at all. The individual instructors have to learn to use any technology they incorporate into their teaching.

Most of the definition proposed by Januszewski and Molenda makes sense. Before I read this chapter I decided to devise my own definition and compare my initial concept of educational technology to theirs. I hadn’t consider the ethical or management aspects of the field. I also hadn’t considered how constructivist principles should have affected my initial concept of technology being a tool for information delivery. Rather technology is a tool for learning facilitation.

Edtech graphic definitionThe foundation of educational technology is the ethical creation, use, and management of technological processes and resources; the two pillars that support learning and performance improvement. The key functions of the educational technologist (creation, management, and use) are informed by research and reflective practice.

Reflective practice is probably more important that research in informing the educational decisions we make. What works in one educational setting and with one group of learners might not work in another. An educator must reflect upon which tool, tech based or not, is most appropriate to support/facilitate education. Many things I teach are best taught without the use of any technology at all.

I created this graphic using PowerPoint. I imported the picture from the link at the bottom of the graphic and then added simple text boxes.  I like to keep graphics as simple as possible so that the message doesn’t get lost in bling. I also have limited skills in graphic design. Hopefully, after this degree program I won’t be able to say that anymore.


Welcome To My Learning Log

This site will be a collection of my achievements and reflections as I explore very uncharted waters for me…the educational technology world. I hope you will will learn and grow with me.

I am still very unsure if I will get out of this program what I want. I decided to pursue this program after reflection on my use of technology in education. I began an interesting journey about 2 1/2  years ago when a dean from my institution suggested I make a previous face-to-face course in evidence based medicine into an online course. Simple right? Quick and easy right? Not so fast my friend as Lee Corso would say. It took a over a year to redesign the material for online use. During this time, I began learning about online and mobile education not only from a local education colleague but mainly by following thought leaders on Twitter. I began to test tools I learned about on Twitter on unsuspecting UAB internal medicine residents. Many of my attempts to use them failed for a variety of reasons. I realized I had no reason for using a tool other than for its “coolness factor”. I decided I wanted formal training in educational technology. So here I am.