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Concept: Virtual learning environment

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This article reviews the current technology, literature, teaching models, and methods associated with simulation-based point-of-care ultrasound training. Patient simulation appears particularly well suited for learning point-of-care ultrasound, which is a required core competency for emergency medicine and other specialties. Work hour limitations have reduced the opportunities for clinical practice, and simulation enables practicing a skill multiple times before it may be used on patients. Ultrasound simulators can be categorized into 2 groups: low and high fidelity. Low-fidelity simulators are usually static simulators, meaning that they have nonchanging anatomic examples for sonographic practice. Advantages are that the model may be reused over time, and some simulators can be homemade. High-fidelity simulators are usually high-tech and frequently consist of many computer-generated cases of virtual sonographic anatomy that can be scanned with a mock probe. This type of equipment is produced commercially and is more expensive. High-fidelity simulators provide students with an active and safe learning environment and make a reproducible standardized assessment of many different ultrasound cases possible. The advantages and disadvantages of using low- versus high-fidelity simulators are reviewed. An additional concept used in simulation-based ultrasound training is blended learning. Blended learning may include face-to-face or online learning often in combination with a learning management system. Increasingly, with simulation and Web-based learning technologies, tools are now available to medical educators for the standardization of both ultrasound skills training and competency assessment.

Concepts: Skill, Learning, Virtual learning environment, Learning management system, Educational technology, E-learning

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Learning Analytics focuses on the collection and analysis of learners' data to improve their learning experience by providing informed guidance and to optimise learning materials. To support the research in this area we have developed a dataset, containing data from courses presented at the Open University (OU). What makes the dataset unique is the fact that it contains demographic data together with aggregated clickstream data of students' interactions in the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This enables the analysis of student behaviour, represented by their actions. The dataset contains the information about 22 courses, 32,593 students, their assessment results, and logs of their interactions with the VLE represented by daily summaries of student clicks (10,655,280 entries). The dataset is freely available at https://analyse.kmi.open.ac.uk/open_dataset under a CC-BY 4.0 license.

Concepts: Statistics, Education, Developed country, University, Demographics, Student, Virtual learning environment, Open University

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Neuroanatomy is a difficult subject in medical education, with students often feeling worried and anxious before they have even started, potentially decreasing their engagement with the subject. At the University of Southampton, we incorporated the use of Twitter as a way of supporting students' learning on a neuroanatomy module to evaluate how it impacted upon their engagement and learning experience. The #nlm2soton hashtag was created and displayed (via a widget) on the university’s virtual learning environment (VLE) for a cohort of 197 Year 2 medical students studying neuroanatomy. Student usage was tracked to measure levels of engagement throughout the course and frequency of hashtag use was compared to examination results. Student opinions on the use of Twitter were obtained during a focus group with eleven students and from qualitative questionnaires. The hashtag was used by 91% of the student cohort and, within this, more students chose to simply view the hashtag rather than make contributions. The completed questionnaire responses (n = 150) as well as focus group outcomes revealed the value of using Twitter. A negligible correlation was found between student examination scores and their viewing frequency of the hashtag however, no correlation was found between examination scores and contribution frequency. Despite this, Twitter facilitated communication, relieved anxieties and raised morale, which was valued highly by students and aided engagement with neuroanatomy. Twitter was successful in creating and providing a support network for students during a difficult module. Anat Sci Educ. © 2016 American Association of Anatomists.

Concepts: Anxiety, Psychology, Focus group, Education, Medical school, Student, Virtual learning environment, Worry

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Evidence-based interventions (EBIs) have the potential to maximize positive impact on communities. However, despite the quantity and quality of EBIs for prevention, the need for formalized training and associated training-related expenses, such as travel costs, program materials, and input of personnel hours, pose implementation challenges for many community-based organizations. In this study, the community of inquiry (CoI) framework was used to develop the virtual learning environment to support the adaptation of the ¡Cuídate! (Take Care of Yourself!) Training of Facilitators curriculum (an EBI) to train facilitators from community-based organizations.

Concepts: Skill, Learning, Facilitation, Community, Virtual learning environment, Facilitator, Types of organization

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Blended learning in which online education is combined with face-to-face education is especially useful for (future) health care professionals who need to keep up-to-date. Blended learning can make learning more efficient, for instance by removing barriers of time and distance. In the past distance-based learning activities have often been associated with traditional delivery-based methods, individual learning and limited contact. The central question in this paper is: can blended learning be active and collaborative? Three cases of blended, active and collaborative learning are presented. In case 1 a virtual classroom is used to realize online problem-based learning (PBL). In case 2 PBL cases are presented in Second Life, a 3D immersive virtual world. In case 3 discussion forums, blogs and wikis were used. In all cases face-to-face meetings were also organized. Evaluation results of the three cases clearly show that active, collaborative learning at a distance is possible. Blended learning enables the use of novel instructional methods and student-centred education. The three cases employ different educational methods, thus illustrating diverse possibilities and a variety of learning activities in blended learning. Interaction and communication rules, the role of the teacher, careful selection of collaboration tools and technical preparation should be considered when designing and implementing blended learning.

Concepts: Health care, Health, Education, Educational psychology, Collaboration, Virtual learning environment, History of education, Collaborative software

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Over the past four decades, there has been an exponential increase in veterinary parasitology knowledge, coinciding with the advent of molecular biology in research. Therefore, it is unrealistic for teachers to expect students to graduate with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject. As a result, a new curriculum was introduced at The Royal Veterinary College (University of London) in 2007, designed to meet the needs of our new graduates, i.e. RCVS Day-One Competences. The aims of this curriculum are, inter alia, to ensure that new graduates have an up-to-date body of core knowledge and are able to apply such knowledge and newly-acquired information to scientific and clinical problem-solving. Veterinary parasitology is taught primarily in Year 2, following a brief introduction in Year 1; clinical aspects are covered in Year 3, with original research projects undertaken in Years 4 and 5. Parasitology is taught in parallel with other subjects, enabling both horizontal and vertical integration. Core material is provided in lectures supplemented by directed learning (DL) in small groups and interactive, clinical scenario-based practical classes. Student learning is supported by Moodle 3.2 (Virtual Learning Environment [VLE], RVC Learn) which provides access to an on-line study guide (annotated using Adobe Reader), PowerPoint presentations with synchronized lecturer commentary (Echo Active Learning Platform [ALP]), detailed feedback for DL and practical classes, parasite ‘potcasts’ and CAL packages, and a Clinical Skills Centre. A parasitology textbook has also been published recently to support courses taught at the College. Assessment of student learning is achieved using a variety of written formats (essay, problem-solving questions [PSQ], multiple choice questions [MCQ] and extended matching questions [EMQ]), integrated oral examinations and objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs).

Concepts: Psychology, Education, Educational psychology, Competence, Learning, Multiple choice, Virtual learning environment, Parasitology

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The biomedical sciences have experienced an explosion of data which promises to overwhelm many current practitioners. Without easy access to data science training resources, biomedical researchers may find themselves unable to wrangle their own datasets. In 2014, to address the challenges posed such a data onslaught, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative. To this end, the BD2K Training Coordinating Center (TCC; bigdatau.org) was funded to facilitate both in-person and online learning, and open up the concepts of data science to the widest possible audience. Here, we describe the activities of the BD2K TCC and its focus on the construction of the Educational Resource Discovery Index (ERuDIte), which identifies, collects, describes, and organizes online data science materials from BD2K awardees, open online courses, and videos from scientific lectures and tutorials. ERuDIte now indexes over 9,500 resources. Given the richness of online training materials and the constant evolution of biomedical data science, computational methods applying information retrieval, natural language processing, and machine learning techniques are required - in effect, using data science to inform training in data science. In so doing, the TCC seeks to democratize novel insights and discoveries brought forth via large-scale data science training.

Concepts: Scientific method, Science, Machine learning, Learning, Knowledge, Virtual learning environment, Information retrieval, Natural language processing

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Blended learning has become increasingly common in higher education. Recent findings suggest that blended learning achieves better student outcomes than traditional face-to-face teaching in gross anatomy courses. While face-to-face content is perceived as important to learning there is less evidence for the significance of online content in improving student outcomes. Students enrolled in a second-year anatomy course from the physiotherapy (PT), exercise physiology (EP), and exercise science (ES) programs across two campuses were included (n = 500). A structural equation model was used to evaluate the relationship of prior student ability (represented by grade in prerequisite anatomy course) and final course grade and whether the relationship was mediated by program, campus or engagement with the online elements of the learning management system (LMS; proportion of documents and video segments viewed and number of interactions with discussion forums). PT students obtained higher grades and were more likely to engage with online course materials than EP and ES students. Prerequisite grade made a direct contribution to course final grade (P < 0.001) but was also mediated by engagement with LMS videos and discussion forums (P < 0.001). Student learning outcomes in a blended anatomy course can be predicted the by level of engagement with online content. Anat Sci Educ. © 2017 American Association of Anatomists.

Concepts: Physiology, Physical exercise, Education, University, Exercise physiology, Virtual learning environment, Learning management system, E-learning

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Accuracy of phonetic transcription is a core skill for speech and language therapists (SLTs) worldwide (Howard & Heselwood, 2002). The current study investigates the value of weekly independent online phonetic transcription tasks to support development of this skill in year one SLT students. Using a mixed methods observational design, students enrolled in a year one phonetics module completed 10 weekly homework activities in phonetic transcription on a stand-alone tutorial site (WebFon (Bates, Matthews & Eagles, 2010)) and 5 weekly online quizzes (the ‘Ulster Set’ (Titterington, unpublished)). Student engagement with WebFon was measured in terms of the number of responses made to ‘sparks’ on the University’s Virtual Learning Environment Discussion Board. Measures of phonetic transcription accuracy were obtained for the ‘Ulster Set’ and for a stand-alone piece of coursework at the end of the module. Qualitative feedback about experience with the online learning was gathered via questionnaire. A positive significant association was found between student engagement with WebFon and performance in the ‘Ulster Set’, and between performance in the ‘Ulster Set’ and final coursework. Students valued both online independent learning resources as each supported different learning needs. However, student compliance with WebFon was significantly lower than with the ‘Ulster Set’. Motivators and inhibitors to engagement with the online resources were investigated identifying what best maximised engagement. These results indicate that while ‘independent’ online learning can support development of phonetic transcription skills, the activities must be carefully managed and constructively aligned to assessment providing the level of valance necessary to ensure effective engagement.

Concepts: Education, Educational psychology, Skill, Language, Phonetics, Virtual learning environment, Homework, Phonetic transcription

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Although the traditional didactic lecture is considered to be efficient for presenting information and providing explanations, it usually does not provide adequate time for deeper learning activities. So, traditional lecture is one of the most widely criticized educational methods. Virtual learning environment (VLE) is a specially designed environment that facilitates teachers' management of educational courses for their students, using computer hardware and software, which involves distance learning. In this study, we evaluated the experiment of online teaching of General Embryology for Egyptian undergraduate medical students using WizIQ learning management system. A total of 100 students were invited to submit an online survey at the end of the course to evaluate delivery of instruction, creation of an environment that supported learning, and administrative issues. Most of the students reported that they were strongly satisfied with the efficacy of the instructional methods and were strongly satisfied with the degree of clarity of the course material. They strongly accepted the page format and design of the virtual classroom and strongly agreed that the learning environment supported the learning procedure. The item of easy logging into the virtual classroom had aberrant variable responses; it recorded the lowest mean response; this variation in responses was due to technical factors as the students used different devices with different speeds of internet connections. Ninety percent of students have strongly recommended the course attendance for their fellow students. These results demonstrate that online Anatomy teaching using learning management systems appears to be a successful additional learning tool among Egyptian medical students.

Concepts: Education, Learning, Virtual learning environment, Learning management system, Educational technology, E-learning, ECollege