From time to time, colleagues asked me questions about using technology in their teaching. These questions come up too often, so I figure it will be helpful to write FAQs on this topic.
From time to time, colleagues asked me questions about using technology in their teaching. These questions come up too often, so I figure it will be helpful to write FAQs on this topic. My understanding and replies to these questions are based on my training in educational technology and experience on development and application of educational technology in medicine for past 8 years.
1. "Let's use Padlet in our teaching." "I heard another professor is creating his own eBook. I want to use eBook for my teaching." "I plan to use the flipped classroom model for my teaching. Can you show me how to create a video from my teaching?" I am always baffled when I heard about these questions. Too often that teachers think they know the power of technology when they see how colleagues are using it. Naturally next that comes to their mind is: How about try to use it in my teaching too? In situations like this, the big questions are generally ignored: Why do you want to use technology? What are the pros and cons of certain technology? In reality, a quick Google search for "technology for assessment" turns up about 50 different tools, with many overlaps in features. Why do you want to use Padlet? Why do you want to create an eBook? It cannot be that others are using it. The following questions should be asked before deciding which technology tool to use:
1) What is your purpose of using the tool?
2) How is this going to fit into your teaching?
3) What are the requirements for teachers as well as students if the new tool is implemented?
4) What are the technical requirements for hardware and software? Can every student afford this?
2. "I heard about Figure 1 from a conference in US. It is a free secure photo sharing site for health professionals. The advantage of using this is quite obvious. I'm thinking about the possibility of using this in my teaching with undergraduate students. What should I do?" The new ideas should always be encouraged especially when they have been validated in other institutions. However, as many have experienced, it is not just simply copying and pasting the idea to your own teaching. There are always unforeseen problems. For example, Figure 1 is widely among health professionals in US, with no patient identifiable information associated. But in Singapore, a new data protection act is in effect since 2013 so that it needs approval by the PDPA office before this can be used among health professionals. On the other hand, users' perception and acceptance toward new technology in Asia can be quite different from those in the west. This might prove to be a hindrance in adopting new technology.
3. "It seems that everybody is talking about the flipped classroom model. But it is daunting to think about how much time and commitment it requires from teachers." To get everything work or to achieve good results, no easy path can be taken. The idea of the flipped classroom is simple and attractive, but it requires enormous commitment from teachers in the beginning. It can be a real concern when some teachers are not clear whether they will teach the same course in the future semesters. With the competing demands from research and service, some just gave up the idea in the end. One suggestion I have been using to tell my colleagues is that intellectual activities like developing new course materials can be counted as scholarship, as a result it is not a waste of time.
4. "I came across a few courses on MOOC, e.g., Introduction to Global Health, Betriebliches Gesundheits management, Epidemiology: The Basic Science of Public Health. What if many pre-clinical courses are offered on MOOCs by best professors in reputable medical schools in the world?" A news from a couple of weeks from Inside HigherEd said that a cohort of medical students from a school in Germany took the MOOC course on Global Health from HarvardX. Another recent news is that Yale School of Medicine will launch its online Physician Assistant program, in which blended learning will be used. Students will take didactic learning online, then receive their clinical experience at sites recognized by Yale School of Medicine and with locations convenient for students. If such a program is proved to be effective, why cannot medical education go on the similar path?
Overall, technology is a means, and there are other factors to consider in teaching, such as content, dynamics among students, interaction among teachers and students, and clinical supervision by a senior tutor. To fully utilize the potentials of technology, the only limit is the sky!