open education

Trying another MOOC: Open education #h817open

openness connection by psd, on FlickrWith work being very busy my best efforts to try and participate in the EDCMOOC didn’t really go to plan and I only managed to watch a few of the YouTube videos in week 1 and didn’t have time to catch up.  I’ve had a similar experience with the MIT MOOC on Learning Creative Learning, engaged for the first couple of weeks but then dropped off again through generally being busy and away.  So maybe it’s crazy to have signed up for another MOOC, but I have.  This time it’s the Open University MOOC on Open Education #h817open.So why I have signed up for another MOOC?  In part this MOOC appealed to me because there’s the possibility of earning open badges for some of the learning activities.  Badges are something I’m keen to explore further in relation to my own work with students and their involvement as producers of learning resources.  I’m also interested in adopting a MOOC type approach to delivering staff development around technology enhanced learning and so experience of another MOOC is helpful.  Even just dabbling and lurking in some MOOCs has been worthwhile and the MOOC I did complete on Google Power Searching has proved very useful. I’m hoping that I can last the course this time and earn my #h187open badges!

I’m off to a reasonable start and have completed one of the first week’s tasks, creating a visual representation of the key concepts of openness in education as we see them.  My approach to this has been to think about what open education means to me and its impact on me as a teacher and a learner.  Personally I feel that open education has opened up new opportunties to connect with people and learn from their experience as they’ve shared what’s worked and what hasn’t.  It’s challenged me to see things in new ways, to try out new things, it’s inspired me.  I’ve connected with people I would otherwise never have met and had opportunities to work and collaborate with them that wouldn’t previously have been possible.  This has been facilitated by technology but ultimately this isn’t about technology but about the individuals who’ve chosen to share and be open scholars.

I created my visual artefact in Haiku Deck on my iPad and unfortunately I can’t embed it on a blog so  you’ll have to follow the link below to see what it looks like!


Image credit
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  psd 

Trends in online learning: #FOAMed

In recent months RSS feeds and Twitter have been overflowing with mentions of MOOCs, as Cousera, Udacity and EdX continue to attract new university partners and launch growing numbers of courses.  As these big guns have entered the world of MOOCs they’ve attracted lots of attention from the mainstream press, whilst MOOC participants are blogging about their experience as learners on these MOOCs and some of the issues they’ve encountered.

So how about MOOCs and medical education?  Back in January I blogged about an open online anatomy course that Stanford were due to be running in March.  Out of curiosity, I signed up along with a few colleagues, but the course was postponed and it’s not one of the 24 Coursera offerings listed under medicine so who knows if it’s going to go ahead.  I’m sure we’ll see more medical themed MOOCs come on stream from the big players running what are now being referrred to as xMOOCs.  Overall though in terms of online medical education I think there’s another emerging trend that’s more interesting than MOOCs and that’s free open access medical education (#FOAMed).

#FOAMed resources are typically being delivered via blog sites and much of the credit for the emergence and growth of #FOAMed is down to Mike Cadogan and Chris Nickson of Life in the Fast Lane fame and the growing band of emergency medicine bloggers that are following in their footsteps such as the team at St Emlyn’s.

It’s not just all about emergency medicine though, there are growing numbers of clinicians using blogging platforms to support and deliver medical education and particularly at postgraduate and CME level that can be branded as #FOAMed.  One example that’s been gaining momentum over the past year is  #gasclass set up by Sean Williamson and colleagues on Teeside.  #gasclass uses a WordPress blog and Twitter to support case based discussion for trainee anaesthetists.  Set up originally to  support weekly face to face training and discussion of local trainees it now attracts an international audience and is a great example of #FOAMed.  Another example is #ecgclass run by Heather Watherell and her Keeping ECGs Simple blog.  There are other sites and related twitter chats springing up around different medical specialties including urology and public health and a growing list of #FOAMed supporters.

More recently it’s been great to see undergraduate medical students getting involved with #FOAMed activities.  There’s the Twitter Finals Revision Group #twitfrg set up by Faye Bishton.  Each week Faye posts up notes for revision topics for medical students and hosts a Twitter chat on Thursday evenings at 8pm (UK time) and doctors are joining in to provide additional support to this student led initiative. Another student example is Anatomy Zone.

I don’t think the #FOAMed approach is just relevant to medical education, tools such as blogs, twitter and social media are open and accessible to anyone and in essence it’s perhaps another way of describing open educational recources (OER).  Last week I was interested to see some posts in my Feedly feed from Clive Shepherd on Kineo’s Learning Insights 2012 report and one in particular in which he highlighted that elearning is changing and said:

If you want to know about, say, photography – one of my current interests – the first thing you do is go to Google and YouTube. Your search doesn’t lead you to slide shows full of bullet points and multiple-choice questions, but to blogs, Wikipedia articles, screencasts and lots and lots of videos.

You know the detailed information will always be available online so you don’t bother trying to learn any of that. You want the big picture, the important ideas, lots of tips and tricks, and demonstrations of the key skills. If you have questions, you go to the forums. If you want to benchmark your progress against that of your peers, you join groups, share your work and provide helpful critiques to others. We are completely accustomed to learning in this fashion and very satisfied with how well it works. We cannot see why things should be so different at work.

So e-learning design is changing because, more often than not, it’s not traditional e-learning that people want. They’re looking for resources not courses. They want these resources in all sorts of forms – plain text will often do, graphics are nice, but they particularly like video. They are not expecting these resources to be fully-functioning learning objects, that take a learning objective through to its conclusion. Rather they want to pick and choose from a range of materials that can each make a contribution to whatever evolving goals they may have.

We’re looking for a new breed of digital learning content designers. Yes, they will be able to analyse a need and understand an audience but, most importantly, they will be great communicators in a wide variety of media.

It used to be that we turned to text books for resources, but as Clive suggests we’re all increasingly looking online for resources and when we find them we share them.  One of the roles of the doctor is the doctor as teacher and with the advent of #FOAMed what we’re seeing is a new generation of digital medical educators. Educators (or digital learning content designers as Clive describes them) who’ve engaged with technology and used it to create learning resources and enhance learning and create new opportunities for social learning that can both complement and supplement face-to-face and on the job learning.

The interesting thing is that this approach hasn’t emerged out of an institutional top down approach or beacuse of funding calls.  It’s being led by individual doctors who want to improve and enhance medical education and have grasped that technology can help to make resources openly accessible and support online learning.  There are also doctors who’ve started blogging who’s blog posts are also being used to support learning and in turn #FOAMed resources.  Two recent cases that spring to mind include Laura Jane Smith’s post on the Human touch which was posted up on our respiratory teaching blog and shared with our 1st year students and also Jonathan Tomlinson’s post on Shame which medical students were sharing and resharing via the Twitter sphere.

When I took up my current post, Life in the Fast Lane was one of the few medical education blogs around and Mike Cadogan was one of the first doctors I started following on Twitter.  Together with Alan Cann’s MicrobiologyBytes, Sam Webster’s blog and  Jim Groom’s work at University Mary Washington, Mike got me thinking about using blogs to support our undergraduate teaching and that led to an interesting journey for us at Dundee with our VLE.  Four years on it’s clear to see that Mike and his Life in the Fast Lane team are continuing to inspire growing numbers of doctors to embrace free open access medical education.  I hope this a trend that continues.  The future’s bright, the future’s #FOAMed!

Open clinical anatomy course: Is this the future of medical education?

Today I, somewhat belatedly, caught up on the news that Stanford University will be running an open course on Clinical Anatomy as part of it’s growing offering of open educational courses.  The first clinical anatomy course will focus on the upper limb and kicks off on the 5th March with more cousres being planned including one on the anatomy of the head and neck.

So is this the first of many more open medical education courses to come?  Is anyone in the UK planning on doing anything like this in medicine?  Are any UK medical students planning on signing up for the stanford course?  It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out.  The video below gives more info on the course and you can sign up here.