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To the Editor:
The COVID-19 pandemic is posing countless challenges to our health care system—to
say nothing of our society as a whole. For medical educators, one emerging difficulty
is how to ensure optimal learning for students when conventional approaches are constrained
due to: (1) suspended or disrupted clinical services (thereby limiting students’ and
faculty members’ ability to participate on a fixed schedule), (2) cancelled in-person
activities (e.g., due to social distancing policies), or (3) inability for individuals
to leave their homes (e.g., due to quarantine or childcare responsibilities).
Fortunately, modern approaches to teaching and learning offer a range of ready responses,
including leveraging preexisting self-study and model curriculum resources
and using technology to create e-learning experiences.
Now more than ever, we should embrace the idea that education is not a zero-sum game:
The current crisis is an opportunity for educators to work together to create shared
learning opportunities that can benefit everyone.
As one example, the National Neuroscience Curriculum Initiative has convened a broad
team to create a 14-day “Quarantine Curriculum.”
The curriculum is designed to capture foundational concepts in modern psychiatric
neuroscience and bring them to life through a series of self-study resources and online,
interactive experiences. The curriculum is being run in real time, with each day focusing
on a specific theme. All materials, including recordings of the live class sessions,
are then freely available online. Though the intended audience is psychiatry residents
and fellows, we anticipate that these materials could be useful for medical students
or even for those in continuing medical education. Of note, each day’s materials include
assessment questions that allow for formative feedback.
The creation of a discrete, online curriculum offers several key strengths. It empowers
learners to participate in accordance with their own time and ability. It creates
virtual communities of learners (a crucial antidote to the forced social isolation).
It leverages a collaborative approach in which a broad coalition of educators can
each contribute a small amount to a larger product. By incorporating assessment metrics,
we also hope that an online curriculum may create an enduring resource that will have
value beyond the current crisis.
Others are working to compile extant resources (e.g., through Twitter).
Professional listservs and social media are key tools for dissemination. We also hope
that our journals and professional organizations can play a leading role in compiling
and disseminating resources.
David A. Ross, MD, PhDfor the National Neuroscience Curriculum Initiative “Quarantine
Curriculum” CommitteeAssociate professor, Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of
Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut; firstname.lastname@example.org;ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7426-9561.
The authors sought to demonstrate the feasibility of integrating small private online course (SPOC) technology with flipped classroom techniques in order to improve neuroscience education across diverse training sites.
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