The nature of communication

An autistic woman has produced a video about her language. She describes the video this way. “The first part is in my “native language,” and then the second part provides a translation, or at least an explanation. This is not a look-at-the-autie gawking freakshow as much as it is a statement about what gets considered thought, intelligence, personhood, language, and communication, and what does not.” Click the video twice to start playing.

To see a variety of her videos, see

Technology Tools Wiki

I spend the weekend setting up a wiki about Technology Tools that are useful for educators. Check it out at
Wikis are useful for keeping online class resources easily available to students, but their most powerful use is in collaborative projects because team members can share ideas/research, and edit team projects without having to meet face to face.
A wiki available to an entire class is a great way for faculty to increase their own knowledge of online resources as students add their research to the site.

The power of connection

I recently attended a six day, online conference put on by the University of Manitoba. There were 1,000 participants including people from Tashkent, Australia and Brazil. Most of the discussion was through a Moodle (an online discussion forum) archived here Everyday there was a live presentation on Elluminate (PowerPoint, voice, chat). About 200 people participated in the Elluminate sessions.
One of the most interesting aspects though was the opportunity for ongoing discussion. When the online conference started, I had just returned from a weeklong medical school conference in the US. I had come back frustrated by the lack of connection I felt at that conference. Workshops provided very few opportunities for discussing what had been presented. After the workshops, I tried to engage people about the conference, but found myself in social chit chat about the weather and politics.
At the online conference, I learned so much on so many different levels from new technology tools to new theories about how learning occurs to assorted ha-ha moments. People happily provided links, virtual tours and criticism about ideas they didn’t agree with.
The trip to the US cost my university $2,000, while the online conference cost the university $0.

The future of medical education

A little glimpse of what medical education might look like in the future brought to us by Second Life, a virtual world where you can listen to bands, play bingo, join an interest group or… take classes from 26 universities that have developed innovative online courses. This is a video of a clinic in Second Life created by Jeremy Kemp. He describes his project as a “walkthrough machinima of a heart sounds exam (ausculatation) simulation with heart sounds and assessment.” Click twice to play. Sound will start once you enter the clinic.

What a mentor is not

There is a lot of discussion about what mentoring in medical education looks like but very little discussion about what mentoring is not. Part of the confusion is because people may have multiple roles in a mentee’s life and it is difficult to understand the boundaries between those roles. In each of the situations listed below, the mentor may also be a supervisor, expert or friend.
A mentor is not a supervisor
A supervisor is responsible for evaluating and career decision-making. Roles that are not consistent with the trust and risk taking required in a mentoring relationship. A supervisor has an organizationally determined job description that may be incompatible with the mutual negotiation required when mentoring.
A mentor is not an expert
An expert is someone who offers his or her expertise in a one-way, predetermined flow of knowledge. Experts are called in to analyze, evaluate and solve problems. Mentors assist the mentee in identifying, evaluating and solving problems that are the mentee’s responsibility
A mentor is not a friend
Friends offer a social and supportive system that centre on enjoyment and support in times of personal questioning. A mentor is primarily a professional support person who facilitates new learning experiences and assists with professional connections.

AAMC article on mentoring

The American Association of Medical College’s newsletter has an article on mentoring
“Studies of mentoring in the health professions find real benefits for faculty at all career stages. Compared to those without mentors, faculty with mentors demonstrate higher levels of the following success factors:
-Teaching effectiveness, evidenced by declines in teaching anxiety and improved student ratings of teaching effectiveness
-Research productivity
-Professional socialization and interactions with colleagues
-Salary levels; and satisfaction with salary and promotion”