Summary: In his latest blog Professor Harden talks about Ottawa 2020: The good, the new, the controversial, and the uncomfortable, the Ottawa Consensus Reports, and more Description: Ottawa 2020: The good, the new, the controversial, and the uncomfortable
I have just returned from the Ottawa 2020 Conference in Kuala Lumpur. The coronavirus has not been a problem in Malaysia but about 350 participants were unable to attend because of travel restrictions. The 680 participants present entered into the spirit of the meeting and with the aid of impressive technology supplied by the conference centre and the International Medical University, co-hosts of the conference, the sessions ran with, where necessary, contributions made at a distance. Indeed, some participants even said it was the best Ottawa Conference to date.

In line with the Ottawa Conference philosophy, the conference explored “The good”, including best practice with the use of portfolios, competency-based assessment, the OSCE, and feedback, “the new” including programmatic assessment, gaming and virtual reality, learning analytics and EPAs, “the controversial” including CPD and revalidation, self-assessment, assessing unprofessional behaviour and measuring empathy, and “the uncomfortable” including assessing performance deficiencies, culture fit or a misfit of assessment tools, failure to fail, and the role of students in assessment.

Two additional symposia sessions were scheduled. One symposium session looked at the impact of the coronavirus on medical education and another led by Adi Haramati at wellbeing and stress in staff and students, key topics at this time.

A provocative session on accreditation asked what evidence do we have that accreditation improves medical education? Is accreditation fit for purpose and value for money? Is accreditation aligned with the social and pedagogical changes and responsive to these?

As reported at the conference, portfolios continue to attract attention as an assessment tool, more recently in relation to programmatic assessment. The different approaches adopted are of interest. In Maastricht there is a fixed standard format which students must follow. In Dundee and in Cleveland more responsibility is given to the student as to how they assemble the evidence to convince the assessor that they have achieved the required learning outcomes.

There was a high demand for places at the programmatic assessment sessions and an interesting discussion as to what needs to be present before assessment is labelled “programmatic”. I was struck at the EPA sessions at the different approaches to specifying EPAs and the different number of EPAs used to define a curriculum. At one session this ranged from four to one hundred EPAs.

Ottawa Consensus Reports
The reports of new Ottawa Consensus Groups on Performance Assessment, Technology in Assessment, and Programmatic Assessment were informed by discussions during the conference and the draft updates presented in the final plenary session aroused a lot of interest.

Recordings of the conference
Many of the sessions were streamed and the recordings will be made available to registered participants.

International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE)
The Ottawa Conference was preceded by a successful one-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur organised by IAMSE. Among other things the meeting looked at Integration in Medical and Health Science Education at a time of ever-changing landscape of curriculum revision.

AMEE 2020 in Glasgow (5th-9th September 2020)
No doubt we will revisit many of these assessment issues at the AMEE 2020 Conference in Glasgow. We received by the closing date more than 3200 abstracts and these are under review at present. I always look forward to seeing the issues that are currently attracting attention in medical education, not only in assessment but in other areas. I look forward to seeing in Glasgow those who were unable to be with us in Kuala Lumpur.