As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold more than 15 months ago, prompting the cancellation of in-person classes and events at WMed, faculty in the Department of Medical Education and staff in the Office of Educational Affairs and Information Technology had to make rapid changes and pivot quickly to facilitate the virtual delivery of curriculum to learners at the medical school.
Almost overnight, strategies were formed around educational technology with the implementation of tools like Microsoft Teams for delivering live virtual instruction and recording lectures for asynchronous learning.
“One of the silver linings from the pandemic is that it forced rapid change in the use of educational technology that typically takes years to occur,” said Adam Channell, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Medical Education. “We’re now in a position where there is a demand for this type of forward thinking of how education can look.”
Now, as the impacts of the pandemic subside and learners, along with faculty and staff, begin returning to the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus, Dr. Channell and Sarah Gerger, data and systems manager in the Office of Educational Affairs, said there is an increase in demand for assistance with instructional technology tools to deliver content to learners both in-person and virtually.
That increase in demand, Gerger said, has led to an ongoing collaboration between the Department of Medical Education and the Office of Educational Affairs to implement a request-based system that will allow more fluid consultation for faculty and the formulation of strategies around things like educational technology, clinical applications, pedagogy, and learner engagement in virtual and non-virtual settings.
“Since the pandemic, Sarah’s team underwent a rapid change with the quick pivot from in-person to virtual learning and now that we’re on the other end of that, our faculty are coming away with new skills and new educational technology that we think will stick around post-pandemic,” Dr. Channell said. “With that, our system needs somewhat of a reboot for the virtual world and Sarah and her team and I are working toward a request-based system for our faculty where we handle requests differently and look at them on a larger project basis with timetables for services.”
Moving forward, Dr. Channell and Gerger said the request-based system will be implemented fully this fall and will allow the Department of Medical Education and the Office of Educational Affairs to be hyper focused on helping faculty plan projects while instructional technology coordinators in the Office of Educational Affairs will be able to provide adequate support.
“Over the last year, there were a lot of lessons learned and hours spent ensuring content was delivered to our learners effectively.” Gerger said. “The pandemic pushed all of us to get creative with educational technology and generated excitement about new delivery methods. As we move forward, we are constantly thinking about the tools that exist to expand our support of in-person, hybrid, and virtual learning. I’m so excited about where we are now and the opportunities we have to continue to grow.”