For the purposes of this discussion, we will assume that hybrid curriculums in simulation combine online educational materials in advance of on-site activities involving (in person) simulation into one curriculum.
There are things that we want the student to obtain knowledge on from a perspective of knowing things, or cognitively loading, for an upcoming education event. This often lends itself to carefully created on-line course work.
The in-person side of the equation is best used for when we want to see people doing things, particularly doing things with an understanding of the knowledge that they had already studied during the pre-work described above. Combining these two facets, or hybrid learning, are some of the most efficient and effective designs for simulation programs.
It allows students to be fully prepared from a knowledge perspective before the simulation encounters. This will allow you to conduct your simulation encounters at a much higher level by “raising the tide” of the knowledge of the learners in advance. Such a design can potentially reduce unnecessary (costly) time in the simulation center. It also allows for students to assimilate the knowledge portion of your program at their own pace on their own time. Further, it helps to set the expectations of what the learners will need to incorporate when they participate in the simulations. Conducting the online portion as pre-work allows the student to seek out additional instruction mediums to help enhance their knowledge base understanding of the materials.
Curriculum planning will require more effort. It’s more complicated than just deploying a simulation or just creating online education in isolation. You’re doing both! Combining the two which means that there is a time investment in creating the online materials that didn’t exist before we decided to move into a hybrid curriculum. There may be additional skills or resources needed associated with the creation of the materials and/or the administration of some sort of learning management system to make the online curriculum available to your learner population.
Students may not do the work online and prepare like they should before they come to your simulation center. Thus, you need to consider building incentives into the program that creates a compelling reason to do the work.
Tip 1: Begin with the End in Mind
Start with a detailed list of exactly what we want them to know and exactly what they want them to do. Yes, folks it is creating learning objectives, just like we’re designing simulations. Then carefully decide what is knowledge, what is skills and what is application of skills to help parse out which of the curriculum can benefit from on-line (pre) learning.
Tip 2: Create High Quality Learning Materials
You want your students to take the online materials seriously. So, it is important to ensure they are of high quality, contribute to the learning, and not distracting. Not everything in your pre-learning needs to be Hollywood quality. Many people now do cell phone or mobile phone videos, and that’s fine! However, I want to caution you on the audio. You must make the audio or sound as good as the picture looks. If not, it is distracting, and your students may not take things seriously.
Tip 3: Create Active Learning for the Pre-Course Material
Try to create components of active learning in your online materials. Just because it’s online material and delivered asynchronously doesn’t mean there can’t be an active component. Resist the urge to simply regurgitate one of your old lectures and then toss it up online!
Find small opportunities to have them DO something. It might be as simple as asking them to write out a list of the steps of a procedure, drawing a diagram that they see on the screen, or maybe connecting social media so that they are communicating and learning from and/or with their peers. Lastly, having them taking an on-line assessment or quiz can serve as an effective tool.
Tip 4: Ensure Learner Expectations and Consequences are Clear
Make sure your learners are clear on their responsibilities associated with the completion of the online materials, and what the consequences are if they don’t. Additionally, ensure the learners understand how the pre-course content is linked to the expectations that will be encountered when they arrive for the simulation sessions.
Some design examples include having the learners take a written pretest when they arrive at the simulation center and determine whether they have adequately prepared for the simulation or not. Other examples make it clear that they will be called on and expected to know the answers for the content contained in the pre-course materials. It is important that we are fair to the student, with hybrid education, we need to ensure that the learner expectations and consequences are very clear.
TIP 5: Link Your Online Materials Directly to Your Simulations
Work to create an integrated continuum of learning that carries forward from the online materials through the expectations that the learners will encounter during the simulations. This can be emphasized through the direct inclusion of online materials into your simulation sessions.
Consider including exact diagrams, exact pictures, exact phrases and themes utilized during the online learning during your face-to-face instruction. It might be in the form of a mini lecture. It might be audio/visuals that are incorporated during the debriefing process that can trigger in their mind the lessons that were learned from the online material and how it’s being applied to the simulation session learning outcomes.
The words online and hybrid can cause educators to become nervous because of the amount of work that’s involved as well as not understanding how to make those linkages between the pre-course materials and the simulation sessions. Admittedly, it is more work, but I would argue that the outcomes are far superior then either modality alone. Think of it as an investment. Things that can be moved to the online portion of hybrid design can prepare the learners so the valuable on-site time with the faculty can be conducted at a higher level.
I think that by incorporating good hybrid design with these tips, you will find that you will be creating exceptional learning environments for your students.
Until the next time, happy simulating!