Summary: In his latest blog Professor Harden discusses What goes around comes around, Faculty Development programmes, presenteeism at work, artificial intelligence's contribution to publishing, and more Description: What goes around comes around
At the weekend, my 18 year old granddaughter Cara took photographs. I was surprised to see that instead of using her latest smartphone, she used a disposable camera which, like cameras in the past, had film which had to be wound on for each photograph and the film rewound at the end with the photographs subsequently printed on paper. She tells me that the move from digital to film and paper-based photograph is not uncommon among her friends. This is reflected in the lyrics from the Justin Timberlake song

“What goes around, goes around, goes around,
Comes all the way back around,
What goes around, goes around, goes around,
Comes all the way back around,”


Are there areas in medical education where we are also seeing a full or even half circle with a reversal of the original position? Examples may be PBL, where a number of schools are moving away from the approach and the use of multiple choice questions which are being replaced by very short answer questions as referred to in earlier blogs.

What should be addressed in Faculty Development programmes?
Faculty development continues on today’s agenda in medical education. The recent conference led by Yvonne Steinert at the ICRE Conference in Ottawa attracted attention.

Faculty development programmes have traditionally concentrated on the development of technical skills such as lecturing, running a small group and delivering team-based learning. This raises a fundamental issue with regard to the nature of faculty development programmes. The teacher is more than a technician. In the past new education initiatives have not achieved their full potential either because of a lack of faculty development or because of an emphasis in the faculty development programme only on the necessary technical skills. For teachers to make an optimum contribution requires more than just a mastery of the necessary skills. An understanding of some threshold concepts is necessary.

There are threshold concepts that need to be grasped if the teacher is to make their full contribution to delivering and sustaining the education programme. Such concepts include the move from the teacher as a conduit or transmitter of information to one of curator or coach of the student as information seeker, the concept of the authentic curriculum, and the concept of assessment for learning as well as assessment of learning. These and other threshold concepts should be addressed in a faculty development programme if we are looking for sustainable curriculum change.

There will be Faculty Development Conference as an AMEE 2021 Preconference activity in Rotterdam, August 2021 when we will see the current trends in faculty development.

Presenteeism at work
Presenteeism at work is an important but neglected problem. This was one of a number of issues discussed by Professor Franco D’Souza, Head & Chair, Asia Pacific Division, Director of Education, International Program, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics Haifa, Directorate Asia Pacific Division, Melbourne Australia, Executive Director and Dean, Professor of Organizational Psychological Medicine, during his recent visit to Dundee. Presenteeism is the problem of workers being on the job but because of illness or other medical conditions not fully functioning. Research has shown that presenteeism is a much more costly problem than absenteeism. Unlike absenteeism presenteeism isn’t always apparent. In presenteeism the person outwardly looks fine.

The main focus of discussions with Professor D’Souza was the teaching of bioethics, in which he has a particular interest and responsibility. He has a network of more than 250 centres internationally. Online and face-to-face courses are different on how the teaching of bioethics can be integrated into the curriculum. I was very impressed with how the courses are put together and designed. Professor D’Souza is organising a symposium on the teaching of bioethics at AMEE 2020 in Glasgow.

Artificial Intelligence’s contribution to publishing
I had an interesting visit to the Taylor and Francis offices in Abingdon, where more than 2000 staff are responsible for publishing journals, including Medical Teacher. I was hugely impressed with the technical developments and the efficiency of the publication process. Once a paper has been accepted for publication in Medical Teacher, artificial intelligence is used to assign it to one of three tracks for editing depending on the amount and type of editing required on the manuscript.

Intercalated degrees in medical education
I have been impressed by what is achieved by students in Dundee intercalated BMSc programme in education. I was pleased to present at the end of the Ronald Harden lecture in Dundee by Tim Swanwick the 2019 award to Kirsty Lennon for the achievement.

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What is the value of conferences?
There has been a move to combat climate change by reducing flights by staff to conferences. AMEE is tackling the issue in a number of ways. A working group has been set up led by Michelle McLean from Australia on sustainability. The Glasgow International Conference Centre, the venue for our AMEE 2020 Conference, has a commitment to sustainability. As in previous years we are also offering AMEE Live Online, which will allow anyone to join the plenary and symposia sessions from a distance, we are also introducing for the first time this year the opportunity for some participants to deliver their short communication at a distance from Glasgow. We are also exploring the hub and spoke model with smaller satellite regional conferences relating to the main conference. One exciting development we are trying in the opening plenary is for a speaker at a distance to make a presentation through a hologram.

Despite these developments there is still a need for face-to-face contact and discussions. Indeed we have found this to be one of the most valued elements of the AMEE Conference, with many collaborations and new projects being conceived at a conference.