Summary: This month Professor Harden reflects on a successful AMEE conference. Description: Some important and interesting developments were reported or launched at AMEE 2012 in Lyon. We had a record attendance with more than 3,100 participants from 106 different countries and preliminary feedback has been excellent. I do look forward, however, to seeing the more detailed comments in the online evaluation. If you were at the meeting and have not yet completed the online evaluation I would be very grateful if you could do so. We also asked for suggestions for preliminary speakers for future conferences and for submissions for preconference activities and symposia for AMEE 2013 in Prague. We have found in the past the suggestions with regard to plenary speakers very helpful in organising future meetings.
 
It is difficult to point to the highlights of the meeting as there were so many and everyone will have their own particular interests. I thought that the patient and student perspectives presented in the last session was particularly valuable. Vincent Dumez, in his contribution as a patient, argued strongly that patients should not only be involved in the education of students, but should be partners in the process. I could not help but be impressed with how this has been implemented at the University of Montreal. How this could be taken up more widely, as was suggested in one of the questions, is a challenge. Raquel Pereira Correia argued very powerfully in an assured and commanding presentation that a major deficiency in the medical curriculum from a student’s perspective is that we do not encourage curiosity in our students. She pointed out what we lost out on by not doing so. Certainly curiosity does not feature as a learning outcome in many outcome statements and is not particularly encouraged by medical schools. Questions were raised as to how curiosity might be assessed; perhaps this could be picked up at a future meeting. We had wondered about including in the programme the symposium “The Moral Maze,” but I was delighted that we did as it proved to be a popular and a very interactive symposium that showed large group sessions need not simply be lectures and presentations.
 
Adi Haramiti, in another powerful plenary presentation, referred to short communications at the conference that described the “flipped classroom.” I referred previously to this development. It is the subject of an article in the September 1 issue of Education Week where it was reported that almost every session on the topic was filled to capacity at the International Society for Technology in Education annual conference in San Diego, California, USA. It is suggested that the movement was inspired partly by Salman Khan who created a library of online tutoring videos spanning a variety of academic subjects, known as the Khan Academy. We have invited Salman Khan as a plenary speaker for an AMEE conference, but are awaiting a response. The term “flipping” comes from the idea of swapping homework for classwork. Students typically are assigned videos and other material for homework freeing up the time normally spent in classes in lectures for other activities like hands-on activities and discussions. Some educators pointed out in Education Week, however, that “flipping” the classroom may not necessarily result in an improvement for the students. The students need to be engaged with the videos and one has to avoid decreasing student’s curiosity by presenting direct instructions first. The “flipped” classroom has some features common to team-based learning. There has been an interesting discussion over the last few weeks on the PBL ListServe ([email protected]) on PBL and TBL in US medical schools. There was one claim that PBL was used in 70 per cent of US medical schools. Dean Parmelee responded that this was a huge exaggeration.
 
So many meetings are now embedded within the AMEE Conference that it is difficult finding time to go to all of the sessions one would wish to attend. At the Best Evidence Medical Education (BEME) meetings the new framework for the BEME Collaboration were endorsed by the new BEME Board and Congress with the five BEME International Collaborating Centres (BICCs) in Brisbane, Australia; Maastricht, Netherlands; Michigan, USA; Montreal, Canada; and St Andrews, UK. Great interest has also been expressed in the ASPIRE initiative launched at the meeting. This aims to recognise in medical schools excellence in teaching. We have had many more offers of schools to serve as pilot sites than we had expected and 24 pilots will proceed. Based on the consultation process and the pilot experience, the final criteria for excellence will be announced in December when calls for submissions will be welcomed.
 
A new feature of the meeting was the use of ePosters. This appears to have been a success and the eLearning Committee are coming forward with proposals as to what we should do about poster presentations at AMEE 2013. Any additional thoughts would be welcome.
 
Elsevier had arranged a book signing for my new book, “Essential Skills For a Medical Teacher.” We were delighted with the response. I had to sign two copies for one participant who was giving the second copy away as a birthday present! Another bought a copy for himself and one for his department.
 
Starting this week is the second AMEE-ESME Online and AMEE-ESME Leadership Online courses. 94 participants have been enrolled in the AMEE-ESME Online course from 32 different countries around the world. They have been divided into five groups for the group activities and Trevor Gibbs, John Dent, and Pat Lilley are acting as group facilitators. Stewart Mennin also has a fully-subscribed AMEE-ESME Leadership course with 35 participants. It is interesting, as we reported in Lyon at AMEE 2012, that more participants in the 12-week online course appear to complete the activities that merit the AMEE-ESME Certificate in Medical Education than those who engage in the face-to-face courses. Perhaps this is not surprising as the completion of the work is embedded in the course activities during the 12 weeks whereas following the face-to-face course participants have to undertake the work following their return to their institution.
 
I leave this week for the final meeting in Edinburgh of the MEDINE2 initiative. Will there be a MEDINE3? I will be presenting the interim results from Work Package 5 on Curriculum Trends. Levente Kiss and Levente Littvay produced a very useful statistical analysis, which we reviewed at the group meeting in Lyon. It shows some interesting differences in the responses from different countries as to where they see medical education going. Respondents from the US, for example, rated less important the participation of patients in curriculum communities. I have also been asked to talk at the meeting on the future of medical education in Europe after MEDINE2 and will be arguing that a theme should be “Collaboration.” More in my next blog.
 
Feedback for learning is the theme for the September 2012 issue of Educational Leadership. In my new book I highlight feedback as the first of the FAIR principles for effective learning. Goodwin and Miller suggest that borrowing some of the principles of video games could go a long way toward making learning more engaging and rewarding for students. “It’s hard to imagine children being glued to video games if, instead of receiving ongoing, real-time feedback, they got their results weeks later in the mail.” Some may remember this was Marc Prensky’s message at a previous AMEE meeting.
 
The following week I leave for Tampere, Finland where I am having an honorary doctor’s degree conferred as part of a full three-day program. Again, more in the next blog.