I’m happy and proud to announce that my first app has been released into the App store. I’ve been working on this project for a few months now, in collaboration with the excellent team at Snapplify, in order to get this release out the door. The name of the app is The Clinical Teacher, and it’s available for download in the app store.
The Clinical Teacher is a mobile reference app (currently only for the iPad and iPhone but soon for Android as well) aimed at clinicians, clinical supervisors and clinical educators who are interested in improving their teaching practices. The idea is to develop short summaries (5-10 pages) of concepts related to teaching and learning practice in the clinical context, integrating rich media with academic rigor. Think of the app as a library within which various articles will be published and made available for download.
Each article within the app is based on evidence and provides insight into teaching and learning strategies in the clinical context. The articles are developed from the ground up by domain experts, making use of peer-reviewed publications and open educational resources to deliver a concise summary of the topic being explored. Articles are comprehensive enough to give you a better understanding of the topic but concise enough to cover in one sitting. However, additional resources are also provided so that you can explore the topics in even more depth.
At the moment, the content is available for purchase for a minimal fee (e.g. the Peer Review of Teaching article is $0.99), although we will push out some articles for free as we move forward. We’re inviting clinical educators to consider publishing through The Clinical Teacher with the idea of developing content that is more “academic” than a blog post, but less so than a peer-reviewed publication. Apple and Snapplify both receive 30% of the cost of the article, meaning that the author receives 40% of whatever the article makes. And you get to have your content in the app store. This may change over time, depending on how much editorial and layout of articles we have to do before work can be published. If you’d like to write a short piece for The Clinical Teacher, submit your idea here.
The idea is that over time we’ll work with Snapplify to develop features in the app that move it beyond a content delivery app and integrate social features which we can use to create a community around teaching and learning practices in clinical education. But that’s for later. Right now it’s just great to see the app available after all the effort. I’d love to hear any feedback or suggestions for improvement.
A few weeks ago I spent 3 days at Mont Fleur near Stellenbosch, on a teaching and learning retreat. Next year we’re going to be restructuring 2 of our modules as part of a curriculum review, and I’ll be studying the process as part of my PhD. That part of the project will also form a case study for an NRF-funded, inter-institutional study on the use of emerging technologies in South African higher education.
I used the workshop as an opportunity to develop some of the ideas for how the module will change (more on that in another post), and these are the notes I took during the workshop. Most of what I was writing was specific to the module I was working with, so these notes are the more generic ones that might be useful for others.
Content determines what we teach, but not how we teach. But it should be the outcomes that determine the content?
“Planning” for learning
Teaching is intended to make learning possible / there is an intended relationship between teaching and learning
Learning = a recombination of old and new material in order to create personal meaning. Students bring their own experience from the world that we can use to create a scaffold upon which to add new knowledge
We teach what we usually believe is important for them to know
What (and how) we teach is often constrained by external factors:
Amount of content
Time in which to cover the content (this is not the same as “creating personal meaning”)
We think of content as a series of discrete chunks of an unspecified whole, without much thought given to the relative importance of each topic as it relates to other topics, or about the nature of the relationships between topics
How do we make choices between what to include and exclude?
Focus on knowledge structuring
What are the key concepts that are at the heart of the module?
What are the relationships between the concepts?
This marks a shift from dis-embedded facts to inter-related concepts
This is how we organise knowledge in the discipline
Task: map the knowledge structure of your module
“Organising knowledge” in the classroom is problematic because knowledge isn’t organised in our brains in the same way that we organise it for students / on a piece of paper. We assign content to discrete categories to make it easier for students to understand / add it to their pre-existing scaffolds, but that’s not how it exists in minds.
Scientific method (our students do a basic physics course in which this method is emphasised, yet they don’t transfer this knowledge to patient assessment):
Construct an hypothesis
Test the hypothesis
Is the outcome new knowledge / expected?
Task: create a teaching activity (try to do something different) that is aligned with a major concept in the module, and also includes graduate attributes and learning outcomes. Can I do the poetry concept? What about gaming? Learners are in control of the environment, mastering the task is a symbol of valued status within the group, a game is a demarcated learning activity with set tasks that the learner has to master in order to proceed, feedback is built in, games can be time and resource constrained
The activity should include the following points:
Align assessment with outcomes and teaching and learning activities (SOLO taxonomy – Structured Observation of Learning Outcomes)
Select a range of assessment tools
Justify the choice of these tools
Explain and defend marks and weightings
Meet the criteria for reliability and validity
Create appropriate rubrics
Assessment must be aligned with learning outcomes and modular content. It provides students with opportunities to show that they can do what is expected of them. Assessment currently highlights what students don’t know, rather than emphasising what they can do, and looking for ways to build on that strength to fill in the gaps.
Learning is about what the student does, not what the teacher does.
Assessment defines what students regard as important, how they spend their time and how they come to see themselves as individuals (Brown, 2001; in Irons, 2008: 11)
Self-assessment is potentially useful, although it should be low-stakes
Use a range of well-designed assessment tasks to address all of the Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) for your module. This will help to provide evidence to teachers of the students competence / understanding
In general quantitative assessment uses marks while qualitative assessment uses rubrics
Checklist for a rubric:
Do the categories reflect the major learning objectives?
Are there distinct levels which are assigned names and mark values?
Are the descriptions clear? Are they on a continuum and allow for student growth?
Is the language clear and easy for students to understand?
Is it easy for the teacher to use?
Can the rubric be used to evaluate the work? Can it be used for assessing needs? Can students easily identify growth areas needed?
What were you evaluating and why?
When was the evaluation conducted?
What was positive / negative about the evaluation?
What changes did you make as a result of the feedback you received?
Evaluation is an objective process in which data is collected, collated and analysed to produce information or judgements on which decisions for practice change can be based
Course evaluation can be:
Teacher focused – for improvement of teaching practice
Learner focused – determine whether the course outcomes were achieved
Evaluation be conducted at any time, depending on the purpose:
At the beginning to establish prior knowledge (diagnostic)
In the middle to check understanding (formative) e.g. think-pair-share, clickers, minute paper, blogs, reflective writing
At the end to determine the effectiveness of the course / to determine whether outcomes have been achieved (summative) e.g. questionnaires, interviews, debriefing sessions, tests
Feedback from students
Peer review of teaching
Knight (n.d.). A briefing on key concepts: Formative and summative, criterion and norm-referenced assessment
Morgan (2008). The Course Improvement Flowchart: A description of a tool and process for the evaluation of university teaching
Earlier this year I gave my 4th year Ethics class an assignment in which they were required engage in a reflective exercise that not only encouraged interaction with others, but allowed them to see that their own perceptions of the world were different to others’.
Reflection has been shown to be a significant factor in developing clinical and ethical reasoning skills, so the initial requirement was to read two articles and then post a short reflection on each. Other students would then comment on your reflections and you would have to respond to that comment, hopefully having considered your colleagues comment. The learning objectives of the assignment were to:
Understand some of the ethical problems inherent in the South African healthcare system
Be able to discuss some types of ethical dilemmas in healthcare, even if they are not directly related to physiotherapy
Understand the role of reflection in your professional development, especially in the clinical and ethical reasoning process
Have participated in an online, networked conversation with your peers
Acknowledge the differing perspectives of others who may experience the world in different ways
Understand some of the advantages and disadvantages of using new technologies in healthcare education
I set up a WordPress blog on my own server because I wanted the students to have full control over their data (and it was surprisingly difficult to get access to a university server), created an author account for each student and then gave a tutorial on blogging and the blogging environment. The 47 students then had about a month to complete the assignment before the blog was closed to everyone.
Here are some quick stats:
94 posts (2 each)
222 comments (some students made more than the 3 that were required)
109 tags (the main ones being MDR-TB, Apartheid and Torture)
3983 pageviews (pretty impressive for 47 students)
While the initial results seem to be favorable, I have to say that anyone who assumes that all students in higher education are tech-savvy, needs to rethink that idea. One of the biggest challenges I had was trying to get students to understand what a blog is. And I don’t mean the deeper meaning of what blogging is, I mean the concept of a website that they could edit. Forget about RSS feeds and blogging software clients. The notion of digital natives does not apply here, and if the use of technology in education is going to move forward (in this country, at least), this is one major challenge that’ll have to be overcome.
You can download the content of the blogging tutorial here (2.4 MB ppt). I’ll be opening up the blog to the public once I’ve graded them, and will be presenting the results of an evaluation at the SAAHE conference in July.