Second Life and Connected Health

The Center for Connected Health will be bringing their upcoming telemedicine symposium, “Building the Connected Health Economy” into Second Life. The symposium, being held at the RL Harvard Medical Conference Center, begins on Monday, October 22nd and continues through Tuesday the 23rd. The sessions will be streamed into SL at Connected Health Island auditorium. The SL audience will be able to ask questions during the live sessions.
For more information, see

Active Learning – Creating Meaningful Artifacts

Assisting students to create meaningful artifacts is the third approach to active learning. Artifacts are concrete objects that students design, create and share with others. The concept of creating meaningful artifacts of student learning originates from the theory of Constructionism originally advocated by Seymour Papert of the MIT Media Lab.
This article will discuss the following two types of artifacts.

1. Personal Artifacts

Personal artifacts are objects shared between a student/team and a teacher and are the most traditional type of artifact found in education. Essays, project reports, creative assignments etc. are common examples. Personal artifacts are used to assess how well a student or team has achieved. This type of artifact is generally considered the property of the student/s and is returned to them after being marked. Classmates see the artifact only if the student decides to share it.

2. Learning Artifacts

Students create learning artifacts to improve the learning of their fellow students and occasionally future students as well as to demonstrate their competency. Learning artifacts help make the learning process more visible to everyone. Some examples of this type of artifact are:
Sophisticated, teaching resources: Students may have learned to produce animations and flash files in high school. These skills could be used as an alternative assignment and will provide you with an ongoing teaching resource.
Websites: Student projects and essays can be posted on a group website where they can be shared. In the following examples, papers from a graduate class from 1997 – Present are publicly available
Blogs: A Blog is an online journal where class reflections/articles can be posted and commented on. Blogs can be private to a specific class or public. For examples see or The university provides blogs to faculty and students at no charge.
Wiki: A wiki is an interactive document that allows a group of individuals to edit content and can be used to create team projects, for problem-based learning, to share research articles etc. Wiki’s can be private to a specific class or public. The university provides wikis to faculty and students at no charge. See my wiki as an example
Podcasts: A podcast is an audio file that can be downloaded to a computer or mp3 player. Here is an example of a series of podcasts from the New England Journal of Medicine, or Texas Tech An RSS feed downloads podcasts to your computer automatically. Students could use software such as Audacity to create podcasts for a class website or create and host them in a commercial site
Videocasts: Videocasts are a more sophisticated mashup of video and podcast. Here is an example from the National Institute of Health and here is how it might be created by students or Vodcasts can be created quickly using Blogcheese
Creative Projects: Medical students at the U of S have an annual art auction and an example illustrating the history of medicine in Saskatchewan is currently hanging in the Westwinds Clinic. Activities like this could be expanded into the classroom to create multi-modal learning resources such as models, illustrations, visual mnemonics and simulations.

Students view of learning

A short video summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today – how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

Active Learning – Reflection

I decided that reflection deserved an article on its own. Reflection is an important aspect of helping students and residents develop a deeper understanding of the medical curriculum that is frequently avoided because it is perceived as being difficult to teach/assess. Deliberately practicing the art and skill of medicine requires reflection yet medical students and residents have to spend most of their time being in the moment; paying attention and responding rapidly to immediate stimulus within the environment. Fatigue at the end of a shift makes end of the day reflection difficult.
I thought I would start this discussion with an image provided to me by Bronwyn Hegarty
Take notice and describe the experience
There are three ways to do this actively in a clinical setting:
1. Videotape
Videotaping teamwork and patient interactions provides an artifact of the encounter that can be examined later to check perceptions and assumptions about an event.
2. Written records
Patient records, student encounter cards, diaries, blogs can record both immediate information and patterns over time.
3. Feedback
Asking the student to state what they did well, could improve and want to know more about before they receive feedback from peers and faculty provides an opportunity for students to reflect on their knowledge/skill/understanding.
Analyze the experience
Two clinical teaching techniques could prove useful in helping students become more reflective:
Precepting Using MicroSkills (one minute preceptor) and Chart Stimulated Recall
Remember when using these techniques to focus on helping the student be more reflective by using open ended, analytic questions at the beginning of the encounter.
Take action
Every reflective experience should be concluded with a plan for how this experience will be used to improve learning, interactions in the future.

Active Learning – Making Meaning

Active learning techniques fall into one of the following four categories:
1. Remembering
2. Meaning Making
3. Creating Meaningful Artifacts
4. Connecting
This article will focus on active teaching techniques that help students understand what they are learning on a deeper level (higher order thinking). Higher order thinking does not come easily to students, they need to see you role modeling your thinking process and they need opportunities to practice in a safe environment which is non-judgemental, open to alternative viewpoints, respectful of students experiences and beliefs and provides marks for risk taking and creativity. Listed below are some of the options for helping students to delve deeper into your curriculum.

Creative Attention Focus

Play a quick game at the beginning or middle of the class to open the student mind to creativity and to focus/refocus attention. See Thiagi’s site for examples


Asking questions throughout your course helps students develop a critical thinking mindset. Questions should always be open ended and avoid the "read my mind" format that can close off student participation. If you assign reading material, always include pre-reading questions that will focus their reading and assist them to highlight/take notes. The following are some additional question techniques:

  • Question Star
    • Brainstorm a list of at least 12 questions about the topic, concept or object. Use these question-starts to help you think of interesting questions:
    • Review the brainstormed list and star the questions that seem most interesting. Then, select one or more of the starred questions to discuss for a few moments.
    • Reflect: What new ideas do you have about the topic, concept or object that you didn’t have before?
  • Creative Questioning
    • Pick an everyday object or topic and brainstorm a list of questions about it.
    • Look over the list and transform some of the questions into questions that challenge the imagination. Do this by transforming questions along the lines of:
      • What would it be like if…
      • How would it be different if…
      • Suppose that …
      • What would change if …
      • How would it look differently if …
    • Choose a question to imaginatively explore.
    • Reflect: What new ideas do you have about the topic, concept or object that you didn’t have before?
  • Thinking Keys (Stephanie Martin created)
    • Form: What is it like?
    • Function: How does it work?
    • Connection: How is this like something I have seen before?
    • Reflection: How do you know?
  • Case Based
    • Begin with a case that doesn’t have a clear solution
    • Ask students to explore issues, assumptions, or questions before trying to solve the case.

    Write, Pair, Share

    • Write or draw an idea, a question, an argument
    • Discuss with one or more other students
    • Share (discuss, post)


    • Definition : Coming up with as many ideas as possible no matter how absurd. The Absurd inspires solutions that are more creative.


    • Roleplay from the point of view of someone else
    • Ask “What would ….. think about this theory, or event?”
    • Tug of war: Ask for tugs, reasons for supporting each side.

    Compass Points

    Compass Points is a method of organizing students thinking into four categories:

    1. What do students need to know/find out more about?
    2. What gets them excited about this issue or theory?
    3. What concerns/worries the student about this theory/issue?
    4. What suggestions does the student have for next steps? or Where do they currently stand on this issue/theory?


    Explanation Game

    • Display an object, an image, a video
    • Instructor says “I notice ….”
    • Ask “Why do you think it happened that way or it is that way?”
    • Ask “What makes you think …?”

    Claim, Support, Question

    • Draw three columns
    • Insert a theory in the first column
    • Ask students what supports that theory or questions the theory
    • Discuss “What is criteria for evidence?”

    Option Diamond

    The Option Diamond allows students to expand their thinking and be more creative about possible options. Draw the following image on the board, fill in the two options and the compromise but focus most of your attention on the creative option at the top.

Things you can do to reduce carbon

Today is Blog Action Day, a day for spreading the word about the environment.
This list is from National Resource Defence Council
Don’t forget the basics. This simple stuff will save energy — and money — right now.
Unplug seldom-used appliances, like an extra refrigerator in the basement or garage that contains just a few items. You may save around $10 every month on your utility bill.
Unplug your chargers when you’re not charging. Every house is full of little plastic power supplies to charge cell phones, PDA’s, digital cameras, cordless tools and other personal gadgets. Keep them unplugged until you need them.
Use power strips to switch off televisions, home theater equipment, and stereos when you’re not using them. Even when you think these products are off, together, their “standby” consumption can be equivalent to that of a 75 or 100 watt light bulb running continuously.
Set Computers to Sleep and Hibernate
Enable the “sleep mode” feature on your computer, allowing it to use less power during periods of inactivity. In Windows, the power management settings are found on your control panel. Mac users, look for energy saving settings under system preferences in the apple menu.
Configure your computer to “hibernate” automatically after 30 minutes or so of inactivity. The “hibernate mode” turns the computer off in a way that doesn’t require you to reload everything when you switch it back on. Allowing your computer to hibernate saves energy and is more time-efficient than shutting down and restarting your computer from scratch.
Take Control of Temperature
Set your thermostat in winter to 68 degrees or less during the daytime, and 55 degrees before going to sleep (or when you’re away for the day). During the summer, set thermostats to 78 degrees or more.
Use sunlight wisely. During the heating season, leave shades and blinds open on sunny days, but close them at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. Close shades and blinds during the summer or when the air conditioner is in use or will be in use later in the day.
Set the thermostat on your water heater between 120 and 130 degrees. Lower temperatures can save more energy, but you might run out of hot water or end up using extra electricity to boost the hot water temperature in your dishwasher.
Use Appliances Efficiently
Set your refrigerator temperature at 38 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit; your freezer should be set between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the power-save switch if your fridge has one, and make sure the door seals tightly. You can check this by making sure that a dollar bill closed in between the door gaskets is difficult to pull out. If it slides easily between the gaskets, replace them.
Don’t preheat or “peek” inside the oven more than necessary. Check the seal on the oven door, and use a microwave oven for cooking or reheating small items.
Wash only full loads in your dishwasher, using short cycles for all but the dirtiest dishes. This saves water and the energy used to pump and heat it. Air-drying, if you have the time, can also reduce energy use.
In your clothes washer, set the appropriate water level for the size of the load; wash in cold water when practical, and always rinse in cold.
Clean the lint filter in the dryer after each use. Dry heavy and light fabrics separately and don’t add wet items to a load that’s already partly dry. If available, use the moisture sensor setting. (A clothesline is the most energy-efficient clothes dryer of all!)
Turn Out the Lights
Don’t forget to flick the switch when you leave a room
Remember this at the office, too. Turn out or dim the lights in unused conference rooms, and when you step out for lunch. Work by daylight when possible. A typical commercial building uses more energy for lighting than anything else.

Active Learning – Remembering

Active Learning is a teaching strategy that encourages students to write/type, click, discuss, act and create in order to engage in the learning process. Students who are engaged in learning are more likely to remember what they learned over time.
Edgar Dale Cone of Experience Media by Jeffrey Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Active learning techniques fall into one of the following four categories:
Meaning Making
Creating Meaningful Artifacts
This article will focus on teaching techniques that improve memory.
Helping Students’ Remember
Cognitive scientists have shown that active learning helps students:
1. pay attention
2. connect new knowledge with previously learned content
3. retrieve information/processes when needed.
Active Pause – Pausing to allow students to refocus their attention is a favourite technique of lecturers. Pausing and asking students to write down their ideas, answers to questions, etc. makes the pause technique active.
Active Reading/Listening – Before asking students to read an article or watch a video or listen to a lecture, give them two or three questions to focus their attention and interaction with the content. Creating online reading and listening resources allows students to click on links for more information. Innertoob is a unique tool that allows you to add questions and comments to audio
Memory Aides/Mnemonics – Our memory retrieval is limited to about seven items, but you can increase that number by linking items to other items either numerically (There are seven steps) or alphabetically (Dow Jones Industrial Average Closing Stock Report”: Duodenum, Jejunum, Ileum, Appendix, Colon, Sigmoid, Rectum.) For more ideas, see . Memory aides are most effective if you challenge students to create them.
Mindmapping – Creating a visual image of how information links to other information will help students store new knowledge in an easily retrievable format. Visual mnemonics is a type of mindmapping that uses images instead of words . Here is a site that lists mindmapping software, and a site for creating collaborative mindmaps
Online drill and practice – WebCT, PAWS or class websites can have drill and practice utilities such as Hot Potatoes added.
Rapid Response Games – Both competitive games like Jeopardy and solitary games like Snakes and Ladders have been used in medical education to make memorization enjoyable. Ask Educational Support and Development for information on educational games.
Simulations – Simulations are becoming increasingly popular in medical education. Here are some examples and
Singing/Rhyming –Similar to mnemonics the beat of a song or rhyme increases the amount of material that can be retrieved. See an example at
Student Response Systems (Clickers) – Clickers are used during class to check student’s previous knowledge about a subject, to give feedback during class about what is being learned and to affirm how much students have learned at the end of class. The College of Medicine has installed clickers in the main lecture theatre and has portable sets available.

Open Letter to Physicians of the World

Bertalan Meskó, from Science Roll writes
“Dear Medical Professionals,
I’m writing to you to describe why to use web 2.0’s features in your practice.
I’m pretty sure web 2.0, the new generation of web services, will play an important role in the future of medicine. These web tools, expert-based community sites, medical blogs and wikis can ease the work of physicians, scientists, medical students or medical librarians. We, medical bloggers, believe the new generation of web services will change the way medicine is practiced and healthcare is delivered.