Teaching a paper called Radiation Therapy and Oncology to RT students in their first year of study involves the students having a basic understanding of cancer, its causes, treatment options and side effects. Whilst on assessment the students can show understanding of these concepts, what I found lacking was an overall comprehension of what a cancer diagnosis and treatment might mean for a patient. After investigating a few options I decided to trial using Wikis as a learning tool. In 2014 the students used the blackboard wiki tool but this was a little clumsy and last year we used the Otago Wiki which the students will have access to during the course of their BRT.
Students are broken into groups of four and throughout the course of the year they complete tasks and create a wiki page which follows the life of a patient from diagnosis to end of treatment. Initially all students are given a brief so all their patients are the same age, for example, a 62 year old male who likes to cycle 20km a day and lives in the Wellington region. The students in their groups then go on to create a life for this patient giving him a name, a family background, a nationality, hobbies, favourite foods so in the end each group of four have a different patient to the next group. The patient then goes on to experience symptoms and is given a cancer diagnosis. The students explore on their Wikis what might be discussed at home, what he might find on the internet and what it might be like for him to have to go through radiation therapy, what he might understand of his treatment and all the associated side effects. Each task is linked to concepts taught in class. The students could then use this patient to explain concepts in tests and in other papers.
It appeared to be a tool the students enjoyed so at the end of 2015 I conducted a study and 23/26 completed the online survey monkey questionnaire. The data to date indicate that the majority of the students (though not all of them) found it to be an effective way of understanding a patient experience. The tasks appear to be at an appropriate level but the class time allocated was too long. Students suggested that other lecturers tap into using them as well.
In summary the introduction of the Wiki is still in its infancy but in 2016 they will definitely continue with a new patient, more refined tasks and direction to the students, and more staff involvement.
eCases is a collaborative initiative with AD Instruments to build online learning opportunities in the Integrated Cases programme of Early Learning in Medicine (Years 2 and 3).
Traditionally, Integrated Cases are delivered over two weeks in two face-to-face tutorials with Independent Learning (IDL) activities competed between tutorials. eCases adopts a blended learning model, and will over time deliver the first tutorial and the IDL of selected Integrated Cases as online modules. The second tutorial will remain as face-to-face time and will draw on material from the online components.
Who was involved?
The work of developing the first eCase was completed by Steve Gallagher, Judith Swan (eCase Writers, ELM) and Mairead Fountain (Medical Education Specialist, ADI). They received HUGE support and input was from Linda Gulliver (Integrated Case Convenor), Greg Jones (Cardiovascular Module Convenor) and Grant Butt (ELM Programme Director). Lots of others in and around ELM also contributed time and expertise.
Feedback from students involved in testing the eCase identified a number of benefits. These included:
- enhanced content learning because of increased engagement with the eCase material;
- watching video clips of real practicing doctors carrying out a real consultation and being able to hear the language used provided learning of practice in action; and
- seeing how the professionals conduct themselves in the room including how to incorporate handwashing before commencing an examination.
The best things about developing this piece of eLearning were:
Developing strong team relationships inside and outside the university to continue the initiative.
Learning lots about the ethical challenges of using real patients on video that will be available to the world, forever.
Seeing the enthusiasm of the students for the finished eCase.
Learning how to work effectively in a partnership with a commercial business.
Bringing together input from diverse departments in the Faculty of Medicine in order to deliver integrated learning content.
Meeting changing deadlines.
Negotiating the ethical concerns identified, and working with organisations to challenge their understanding of the importance of these issues.
Tools / Resources used in this initiative:
Google Docs (now Google Drive) was used with mixed success for collaborative conversations.
We used Trello for task identification and allocation; and Wrike for managing the timelines.
OwnCloud and Dropbox have been used for file sharing. A high level of concern about sharing confidential information in the cloud led to a clear protocol about what information could be shared using these tools. We are exploring Syncplicity for sharing sensitive material.