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When Teachers Become Students

AIRP® instructors are gaining insight to improve learning outcomes.

when teachers become students

At the American Institute for Radiologic Pathology (AIRP®) — which provides a unique training experience for radiology residents, fellows, and practicing radiologists from around the world — the faculty are also lifelong learners.

 Since January, AIRP instructors have been participating in a new EdTechTeacher faculty development program called Teaching for the 21st Century (T21). The year-long blended learning program — consisting of in-person workshops, monthly online modules, and synchronous webinars — aims to teach the instructors creative ways to leverage technology to engage their students more effectively.

“We are discovering new things about how students learn all the time,” says Avra Robinson, EdTechTeacher’s director of online learning. “Using a customized program, we are helping AIRP instructors discover ways to integrate new strategies and tools into their current teaching practices — as a way to motivate and help the residents in their program to engage more deeply with the material and better retain the concepts.”

Several AIRP faculty are already enthusiastically implementing newly acquired web-based education tools — such as Padlet and Mentimeter, which allow for students to interact with their instructors through smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The faculty have also been shown how videos can be embedded within these programs. Brandi T. Nicholson, MD, director of the breast imaging fellowship program at the University of Iowa, has long been interested in incorporating audience response and interactive learning into her lectures. According to Nicholson, “Standing there and just doing didactics is becoming less appealing to the audience. The T21 program has given me ideas of software programs to use — as well as pointers on how to make them successful.”

Benefits of the T21 program have started to reachv beyond the walls of the American Film Institute Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Md., where AIRP courses are held, as faculty have started to apply their learnings back home. “A lot of the ideas I’ve been shown through this program, I’ve been able to implement at my institution,” says Nicholson. “I have residents who are at the University of Iowa for four years and I have continuous interactions with them. I can more easily use some of that asynchronous learning outside the classroom because I can follow up with them.”

According to Robinson, student-teacher collaboration is a key piece of the T21 program. “We hope to explore ways to enhance communication and collaboration between instructors and learners,” she says. “We are encouraging faculty to think critically about what is working — and also what aspects might leave room for improvement.”

Nicholson agrees. “One of the benefits of this experience is that all of us can bounce ideas off each other,” says Nicholson. “We have to come up with creative ideas and then brainstorm within the group on how to implement them in a finite period of time.” Nicholson notes that part of the magic of the collaboration has been discussing obstacles as a group — reasons the faculty might be afraid to try something new or why they think an idea might not work. According to Nicholson, “If we share these ideas and get feedback, we’ll be more likely to actually attempt them or implement them in practice.”

Robinson notes that the value of programs such as T21 is that it provides radiologists with a variety of new ideas to choose from. “Radiologists have enough of their own content — knowledge and skills to keep abreast of — much less having to research best practices for teaching and learning,” she says. “We hope to provide these radiology instructors with a menu of sorts. We’re helping them to create their own arsenal of tools with which they can attack any barriers to learning that might exist.”


 By Cary Coryell, publications specialist, ACR Press

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