Twelve tips for using synchronous virtual classroom technologies in medical education

Karl Luke
2021 MedEdPublish  
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented transformations in medical education, with a shift from face-to-face learning activities to digital education. Virtual classroom technologies have played a pivotal role in supporting synchronous teaching activities; however, it can be extremely challenging for many educators to use virtual classrooms tools effectively. This article presents twelve tips based on best practices in educational design, learning theories, current research in online
more » ... learning, and the authors' personal experiences of designing online activities within medical education. The twelve tips aim to help medical educators use virtual classroom solutions more effectively to promote learner engagement and learning. When using virtual classrooms, instructors should carefully set learning objectives, design learning activities, and constructively align the use of the technology with the rest of the curriculum (Biggs, 2011). Educators should consider the purpose of designing synchronous sessions and critically reflect on why a synchronous session is the preferred format over asynchronous delivery. A well-designed online programme should offer a balance between synchronous and asynchronous delivery (Murphy, Rodríguez-Manzanares and Barbour, 2011). A synchronous session should offer opportunities for learner interaction, present novel insights, or provide engaging activities, and should avoid duplicating what is covered elsewhere in the curriculum (e.g. in readings, videos, and discussion boards). Virtual teaching via synchronous technologies may not be suitable in many contexts, such as clinical skills training and professional practice, however, virtual synchronous teaching is seen as appropriate in many medical fields, including anatomy, imaging, physiology, and pathology (Sidpra et al., 2020) . Virtual classroom sessions should be relevant in terms of both content and activity and designed to meet learners' needs. Synchronous sessions should provide additional value to the learners' learning experience in an online course or programme. For example, sessions could include a brief direct-instruction component, practical demonstration, or provide access to a guest speaker (Lowenthal, Dunlap and Snelson, 2017).
doi:10.15694/mep.2021.000066.1 fatcat:2wku4yzjtnb23j6qwfuvbbqgmi