SMU eNews

‘Teaching with Tech’ Symposium Offers Insights into Future of Healthcare Education

As a lecturer at Samuel Merritt University (SMU), Laurie Rosa, MSN, RN, enjoyed standing at the front of the class to talk with students – except when she caught the occasional student nodding off.

Rosa, who teaches at SMU’s San Francisco Peninsula Learning Center in San Mateo, looked for new ways to keep students engaged. She figured if class time included more student involvement, and became more productive for students, there was less chance to doze off.

Enter the idea of podcasting. Rosa began recording hour-long lectures at night, then asked students to listen to the digital files sometime before class while they were commuting on the bus, working out at the gym, or even in bed.

Rosa soon found the students who had listened to the podcasts were more vocal during class, engaged in deeper discussions about the material, and scored higher on exams. She shared her findings at SMU’s second “Improving Teaching with Technology Symposium” January 21, 2015, along with 11 other faculty who delivered on-stage presentations.

“It’s about learning to adapt what we do for the needs of the learners,” Rosa said, “so we’re not just skimming the surface of the material but diving in deep.”

The symposium, which is the only of its kind in the Bay Area dedicated to new teaching technologies in healthcare, is quickly becoming a nationally-attended event for innovators in the healthcare-education field. Along with the 10-minute presentations, other faculty published posters on their findings using Google Docs to work collaboratively, video interactions with “virtual patients,” and anti-plagiarism software.

A massive paradigm shift is under way in the U.S. healthcare system, said attendee Dr. Ahmed Calvo, Director, National Health Policy and Leadership Fellowship, Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University.

Calvo, who described SMU’s culture of experimenting with new teaching technologies as a leader in the field, said the nation’s healthcare structure was moving away from the doctor-knows-best model to a team-based, “community of professionals” perspective that starts with the patient.

For educators and students today, Calvo added, that means creating a new classroom culture that reflects the team-based, community of professionals model they’ll soon encounter. Technology can assist the transition, Calvo said, but faculty and students must embrace the change first.   

“You can no longer rely on a traditional curriculum or traditional teaching methods when it comes to preparing future healthcare professionals,” Calvo said. “Healthcare is changing quickly, and what they will encounter in the field will change just as quick. So their educators have to be able to adapt now, so their students learn to be adaptable later.”

In the last two academic years, more than 50 SMU faculty participated in experiments with new technologies and submitted reports on their findings, said Valerie Landau, MA, CAS, Director of Assessment of Educational Effectiveness.

“We are leaders in the country when it comes to this level of participation from our faculty. We’re defining emerging trends and finding best practices in our field,” Landau said.

To that end, in classrooms where SMU students used immediate response systems – such as clickers and cell phones – more than 90 percent of students surveyed found the technologies “extremely engaging.” With that feedback in hand, Landau said all faculty at SMU will soon use some method of student-response.

At the symposium, faculty also shared student-outcome results from using narrated PowerPoints and short instructional videos.

Some of the findings were dramatic. H. Paul Smith, PhD, RN, an assistant professor, assigned nursing students to watch video clips of health assessments before he discussed the skills in class. Smith found 91 percent of his students rated the videos “helpful.”

“The students who watched the videos were ready to go and ready to do,” Smith told the audience. “Rather than watch a professor demonstrate, they were ready to practice the skills they’d learned.”

In the physical therapy department, Associate Professor and Department co-chair Rolando Lazaro, PhD, PT, GCS, reported students used iPads mounted on tripods to record their interactions with clients so they could review and assess their performance. The students not only critiqued their hands-on skills learned from lectures and text books, but also the effectiveness of their communication skills and professionalism with clients. “There are lots of things you don’t pick up watching at first glance, which the iPad will,” Lazaro said. 

Later this year, Landau said her team will look at all of the completed studies by SMU faculty to build a tool to identify best practices and emerging trends. The experimental initiative will become a permanent culture shift, she said.

Dr. Penny Bamford, Assistant Vice President, Academic Affairs, feels strongly that as healthcare educators we must learn, model and teach the skills students need for success in the 21stcentury.

“We need to gain more comfort in risk-taking, reframe ‘failure’ as success in learning, and promote more curiosity,” she said. “We are all learners and in this together.”

“This is about how faculty actively engage in reflective practice to boost learning outcomes and student satisfaction.” Landau said. “And about sharing what we’ve learned to increase our collective intelligence about teaching and learning in the 21st century.”

Valerie Landau, Director of Assessment of Educational Effectiveness, offers opening remarks at the ‘Teaching with Tech’ Symposium
Valerie Landau, Director of Assessment of Educational Effectiveness, offers opening remarks at the ‘Teaching with Tech’ Symposium