ICRE recently spoke with Dr. Sandra Jarvis-Selinger, assistant dean at the University of British Columbia, about the new Master Teaching Program for faculty development, which has revised existing curriculum to include online components.
What changes were you looking to make to your faculty development curriculum?
Our Primer series covers basic skills, tools and approaches to help clinical teachers understand their role as teachers. Some people take one-off workshops while others take a series of workshops and then go on to do their Masters or other formal certification. Our faculty development Project Leader and Primer creator, Dr. Leslie Sadownik recognized that there was an in-between group – those who weren’t quite at the point of going after their Masters, but who wanted a more formal faculty development program offering. The Master Teaching Program, which is funded by the Fred Bryans endowment fund, will be looking at how we can adapt the Primer curriculum to a more longitudinal approach. We will also be looking at how to adapt some of the curriculum to a technology-enabled approach. In our pilot phase in Nanaimo, British Columbia, we have a cohort of clinical preceptors who are experiencing the Master Teaching Program in a blended way, that is, they meet face-to-face a couple of times a year, and then they work with online modules the rest of the time.
What were some of the challenges in implementation?
We needed to understand what part of the Primer curriculum would stay in a traditional format and what would be adapted. On the technological side, it wasn’t just a one-for-one transition. We needed to understand where and when things had to morph. We hired an instructional designer who created a storyboard that became a type of gap analysis. This helped us identify the easier curricular components that we could implement first, followed by the more complex ones.
We also had to explore the platform that the new system would be hosted on. This required looking at the capabilities we wanted and what was available to us at UBC. When we asked UBC’s IT department about their future development plans, we learned that they were going to move from Web CT to Blackboard. They wanted to put our pilot project in Web CT, but we persuaded them to let us do the pilot in Blackboard by pointing out that it would mean one less thing for them to convert later.
Your pilot program won’t end until next year; what will you be looking for in terms of findings?
Part of the pilot will be to assess how participation in a longitudinally-distributed faculty development program changes community preceptors’ beliefs and behaviours. Does it prepare them for the kinds of jobs we’re asking them to do in the clinical education realm? What are some of the advantages of having it online versus face-to-face and what are the cost benefits of that? And how do you balance those two things when you want to ensure relationship building and a sense of community but you also understand that as the program gets larger, you could have your cohorts distributed geographically?
What are your next steps?
We’re using technology more and more in the classroom, but we’re still teaching the teachers in very traditional forms (e.g. workshops, seminars and sitting down face-to-face). If we’re teaching our teachers about using technology in the classroom but we’re doing it in very traditional forms, it then becomes difficult to sell the message about flipping the classroom. In the immortal words of Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message”. We’ve formed a partnership with the IT group for UBC’s Faculty of Medicine. They have a technologist who will devote some of her time to thinking about technology as it relates to faculty development. We’ve always thought about faculty development as it relates to technology, but if you think about faculty development from a technologist’s brain, that’s a very different place. That should help us teach innovative ways innovatively.