By Lamont Williams
The use of new technologies to enhance the learning experience were explored in the session "Novel Approaches in Transfusion Medicine Education" (9314-QE). The session also examined the process of creating and evaluating a transfusion medicine education online module and questions databank.
The Evolution of Technology and Teaching Methods
David H. Roberts, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, began the session with a description of how technologies used in medical education have evolved over the years, noting that technology is evolving at a more rapid pace than it did only a few years ago and that for people born after about 1981, the availability of advanced technology is simply "assumed," as from their perspective, "it has always been there."
"The most important thing about all these technologies is that you, as educators, should have a sense of how to use them, and learn how to incorporate them during instruction," said Roberts, who went on to describe how some teachers are providing videos to their students to watch before they come to classes to allow for a discussion of the topic as opposed to the standard lecture format.
He also spoke of the importance of technologies that help engage learners and the emergence of personal learning environments and adaptive learning platforms, designed to address individual learning needs.
Transfusion Medicine Education Online Module
Yulia Lin, MD, FRCPC, CTBS, of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, discussed the application of new technologies in transfusion medicine. She began her talk with a literature review showing that there is a need for transfusion medicine education for physicians.
Exploring ways of delivering education, Lin described the advantages of online learning: flexibility (time, location), decreased costs (staff, travel, materials), multiple learning styles accommodated, low stress, ability to learn at one's own pace, accessibility (large audience). Disadvantages include a lack of technical competence among some individuals and limited engagement and interaction with experts/peers.
She and her colleagues developed, and launched in September of this year, an e-module (BloodyEasy Lite; belite.lixar.net) as an educational tool to deliver basic transfusion medicine knowledge to practicing physicians. Top issues physicians asked to learn more about were indications for transfusion and transfusion reactions. She and her team will be conducting a pilot study to evaluate the impact of the module on physician transfusion practice over time.
Transfusion Medicine Questions Databank
Ronald Jackups, MD, PhD, of Washington University, and William Lane, MD, PhD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, described the Pathquestions.com Online Question Database Project for Transfusion Medicine Education. The goal of the project was to "develop an online transfusion medicine education tool that is useful (provides timely information for board review, education and training), interactive (has a simple interface that encourages user feedback), dynamic (can address new issues in transfusion medicine and respond quickly to user feedback) and collaborative (features viewpoints from many individuals both nationally and internationally)."
Jackups noted that there are three question sets per week and that the questions are either written by editors or submitted by subscribers with editorial review. Lane gave an overview of the website's design and features. Once a question is entered, an email is sent to each subscriber. The person responds and is sent a detailed answer indicating whether or not the response was correct. There also is a feature to allow users to send feedback.
They currently have received approximately 53,000 responses (about 500 per question) from nearly 1,400 subscribers, who include attending physicians, residents, laboratory managers and medical technologists from various parts of the world (North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, the Middle East).
The speakers concluded that Pathquestions.com provides an interactive learning experience for transfusion medicine education. They said the interface is adaptable to include different question types and subscriber responses, ratings, comments and surveys can provide valuable information to educators who design training tools.