Summary: In this latest blog by Professor Harden, discussion focusses on his recent trip to the Elliot Maisie Learning 2014 event in Orlando and World Federation of Chiropractic meeting in Miami. Description: Unfortunately I had to cancel my visit and opening presentation at the CPD meeting in Kuwait.  My wife had sustained a vertebral fracture and I could not leave home.  Susan, my daughter, was able to come from Spain the following week to be with her and I was able to depart for my trip to Toronto, Orlando and Miami.

In Toronto I attended an AUC Board meeting and then moved onto Orlando where I took part in Elliot Maisie’s Learning 2014.  Without doubt there are benefits from attending a meeting outside one’s immediate field of interest.  I had last attended an Elliot Maisie event about 10 years ago when it was called Learning Technology.  I had three reasons for attending.  The first was to hear about the theme of the meeting in which I have a particular interest – personalised learning.  The second was to listen to the views on the subject of the plenary speakers, in particular Sir Ken Robinson.  As I mentioned before we had invited him to speak at an AMEE meeting but we did not feel we could justify his fee of £150,000 plus first class air fare for a one hour presentation.  Among other things he talked about the new challenges of learning and of developing critical thinking in an age of ubiquitous information available from Google and other sources.  He used the metaphor of a room full of musical instruments.  The result could be a symphony or just noise.  He also talked about the need to be part of the move to ‘education for capability.’  If he needed his house rewired he would rather have a qualified electrician rather than a Professor of Electricity.  If you haven’t listened to one of his TED talks online you should try the experience.

There were several sessions at the conference on improving the webinar experience.  These addressed how to engage the participants, the importance of getting the right amount of content and specifying clearly the intended learning outcomes and the need to rehearse the speaker with the technology and the webinar approach.  As we have found out with MedEdWorld not all good lecturers adapt to the webinar format.  I was impressed by Ann Herrmann-Nehdi who talked about Neuroscience and Learning.  She would be a good speaker for an AMEE meeting.

My third reason for attending the meeting was to see if there were any lessons we could learn with regard to the organisation of meetings that might be relevant to an AMEE conference.  Not all of the ways of engaging the audience and the approaches to the plenary sessions would appeal to AMEE participants, but we might try some including the use of thumballs.  Registration for the meeting was expensive but I got a free press pass as editor of Medical Teacher and Pat Lilley got a reduced registration fee.  Sadly we were so busy we did not have time to visit any of the Disney attractions in Orlando!

In Miami I had two plenary presentations at the World Federation of Chiropractic meeting – one on trends in education and the other on the OSCE.  I was impressed with the interest in education.  A number of participants were AMEE members and had been to AMEE meetings.  Others had the Dundee Master degree in Medical Education.  Among the many interesting papers was one from the Chairman of the National Board for Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) who talked about how ahead they were of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) in adopting the OSCE.  First introduced in 1996, more than 60,300 chiropractic students have now taken the part IV OSCE qualifying examination.  I was also interested to hear about the interaction between medical and chiropractic training in Switzerland and Denmark.  A paper for the European Council of Chiropractic Examiners (ECCE) reported they are now focussing on learning outcomes rather than on time as the unit of currency.

Any spare time in Miami was occupied with putting the final touches to a book on the OSCE which I am authoring along with Pat Lilley and Madalena Patricio.  The deadline for submission of the manuscript to the publisher, Elsevier, was 31st October and it is hoped to launch the book at AMEE 2015 in Glasgow.  I was pleased to see that another book on the OSCE by Zubair Amin and co-workers is coming out later this year.

Overall a hectic but very worthwhile ten days in North America.  Fortunately the transport arrangements all worked well with no problems or delays.