The COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools all over the world to temporarily shut down campus operations and shift to online learning. Schools that already have a robust digital learning component—like the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS)—have a real advantage in that they can continue teaching without interruption.
“Many educational institutions are grappling with implementing virtual instruction for the first time,” says Maria Puzziferro, PhD, Dean of Digital Learning and Innovation at USAHS. “But at USAHS, we’ve been at the forefront of innovative learning models since 1979. We’ve adapted to the current situation by leveraging our longstanding expertise with online delivery. And we’ve moved our clinical lab courses online by creating new approaches to patient examination and hands-on instruction using technology.”
Moving Clinical Labs Online
“We are not only maintaining our continuity of instruction—we’re also expanding our support of faculty, the quality of media, and the level of virtual student engagement,” Dr. Puzzifero said. Here’s how:
- Our students’ portal to learning is their Blackboard course, with lecture content, collaboration tools, lab plans, and discussion forums.
- Faculty will teach lab courses using live-streamed and pre-recorded lab demonstrations that students can watch on demand. Many of these demonstrations are being professionally recorded in our campus labs.
- Faculty are creating lab plans that pair these demonstration videos with innovative at-home lab practice sessions. While adhering to social distancing guidelines, students can practice new clinical skills and techniques with family, friends, or online classmates.
- Students will use video to document their lab activities through live streaming or recording. Faculty will give feedback, and students can review their own video to self-assess.
- Some lab plans will involve virtual simulations—patient cases representing authentic clinical environments using video. Students make clinical decisions and reflect and debrief with their peers.
- Students can engage in telehealth experiences with mock patients to prepare for the future of telehealth.
- The University offers a robust virtual library repository with eBooks, journals, videos, and apps like Visible Body, an interactive anatomy application.
“While no institution could have been fully prepared for the COVID-19 crisis, our faculty and staff were well equipped to meet the challenge,” says Dr. Puzzifero. “They have drawn on their extensive expertise as online educators, the University’s abundant digital teaching and learning capabilities, and our access to state-of-the-art learning technologies to go above and beyond to enhance the online learning experience for our students.”
See our updates on changes due to COVID-19.