Call for Submissions: Voices of Hybrid Online Teaching and Learning » Voices of Hybrid & Online Teaching and Learning » Voices of Hybrid & Online Teaching and Learning: Pallavi Utukuri

Pallavi Utukuri

Assistant Professor of Radiology, Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Professor Pallavi Utukuri shares her experience with hybrid teaching in 2020.

The Diagnostic Radiology Elective is offered to medical students in their Major Clinical Years (MCY), usually in their 3rd or 4th (final) year of medical school. These students are in their clinical rotations and mostly on the floors in the hospital. The enrolled students constitute a mixed audience – with several likely to pursue Radiology as a career and many that will enter other specialties following medical school. This month-long course is offered from March to October every year. The impetus for the course redesign was to improve student engagement and to update the teaching techniques for the current generation of learners. 

The students enrolled in the course learn the approach to image interpretation and recognition of various diagnoses with imaging. The traditional paradigm included several didactic lectures with limited direct interaction with the imaging studies. Radiology is extremely image rich and fosters self-learning and hence is readily adaptable to online learning. Utilizing the flipped- classroom Hybrid learning paradigm – a traditional hour long lecture was converted to multiple short, image rich, narrated videos, with clearly defined learning objectives. Each video delivers bite-sized high yield didactic content. 3-5 non-graded questions follow each video to reinforce the content. Each of the radiology subspecialty topics has 8-10 online video/question pairings. An interactive faculty facilitated case based live session concludes each topic. In contrast to the traditional didactic lectures, the interactive faculty-led sessions improved student participation and fostered thoughtful discussion. In addition, the students had the opportunity to interact comprehensively with the most senior radiologist–a component that was a deficit in the traditional paradigm.

The students completed the online videos and questions individually, on their own schedule, allowing them to review multiple times as needed. The online videos were created using the screen recording and video editing software- Camtasia. The videos and follow up questions are available to the students on Courseworks. Timely completion of the modules and quizzes is mandatory and monitored by the course directors and coordinators. The interactive case-based sessions are conducted via the Zoom platform. An image rich final exam is conducted using the online platform Socrative.

The major takeaway from this experience has been the overwhelming utility of online platforms for directed self -learning and engagement. In addition, the redesigned paradigm allowed us to reach a greater number of students increasing our enrollment to 20 students every month. The other major takeaway for me was the amount of time needed to design shorter, high yield lectures with succinct learning points. CTL was instrumental in helping me with strategies to distill the content delivered. I found that it was harder to eliminate extraneous content than I initially imagined. In addition, recording online modules with succinct and clear narration takes practice and multiple re-dos. I initially started with several outlines and was constantly revising these based on the content I hoped to relay. Having a clear outline is extremely important-but my best advice would be to start the re-design as early as possible. Creating the videos, even if they are 5 minutes long, takes multiple revisions as you constantly whittle down to the most useful information presented in the most efficient manner. Having other editors who are able to give valuable feedback is also essential. As an experienced Radiologist, my most valuable editors were the younger radiology residents who are also learning radiology and my non-radiologist course coordinator. I did find that it got easier after I converted one or two topics. Given the overwhelming positive feedback, this is definitely the way forward.

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What is it like to teach and learn at Columbia in 2020-2021? Share your hybrid/HyFlex or online teaching and learning experience.