Transitioning to Online and Virtual Learning During a Pandemic
We are in uncharted waters for EMS/Fire and first responders. Before we discuss how your agency can improvise adapt and overcome, I thought it would beneficial for some review about the virus.
Novel viruses are new viruses. In the case of SARS-Cov2, this started as a zoonotic infection meaning it derived from an animal. Normally, these viruses only transfer from animal to animal (pigs in H1N1) (birds in Spanish flu). But once, one of these animal viruses mutates and starts to transfer from animals to humans we have a significant issue. Humans do not have immunity to these viruses, the RNA sequencing of the genes inside the virus isn’t human, and the human immune system doesn’t recognize it so, we are unable to fight. Some viruses only transmit from animal to human, however, a virus may mutate and be able to transmit from human to human. H1N1 had a slower rate of RNA mutation and therefore did not spread at the speed that we are currently seeing.
In December of 2019 a virus that likely existed for months or years in animals mutated and jumped from animal to human in Wuhan China. Within 2 weeks the virus mutated again, this time with the ability to transmit human to human. SARS-CoV2 is a virus that causes COVID-19 infection. SARS-Cov2 gains entry into the cell through the ACE2 receptor. These receptors are found primarily in the lung, hence the significant pulmonary symptoms and to a lesser degree in the small intestine. Since identified SARS-Cov2 has infected nearly 300,000 people worldwide. This number is likely to grow exponentially, as testing becomes more accessible. Your Designated Infection Control Officer is essential in this fight. While first responders fight the spread of the virus and treat patients, our agencies must adapt.
Online and Virtual Training
Responding to calls for service is the foundation of EMS/Fire/Police agencies. While some agencies are exploring how to implement telehealth, education and training can be easily moved to the virtual and online environment. For the last 30 years, EMS continuing education has mostly been delivered online with simplistic online, non-interactive self-paced courses. Since then, EMS providers have demanded a new way of completing online EMS continuing education.
In Virtual Instructor-Led Training, online training is conducted by an experienced EMS educator using an online virtual classroom, which allows for full interaction from any computer and or mobile device. The students can interact with each other as well as educators through chat, audio, and visual tools. The EMS educator can push documents out to the students, have them participate in group discussions, whiteboard activities and even allow the student to be the presenter of content during the live session to other students which by the way, these students can be located anywhere in the world. They are not confined to a classroom. All of this is done in real-time, so what are the advantages of virtual learning and how does my department transition?
1. Train anyone, anywhere with a human element
Most of the education delivered is while we are on shift. As you could imagine, there are many challenges with this. The crew gets a call and has to leave the training and they leave their response area to drive to training leaving their area uncovered. So, it makes absolute sense to utilize an online tool to deliver training in real-time, keeping the employees engaged and motivated and participating rather than sending them a PowerPoint presentation or a recording of a ppt delivered to students in a classroom. VILT EMS continuing education can be disseminated from anywhere and employees can attend from their ambulance station, their post while they are sitting in an ambulance, or from home or anywhere they may be in the world. A significant saving is seen when funds are not spent on traveling and moving emergency vehicles to cover areas. Also, VILT offers a human element and thus employees feel personally mentored.
2. Student Engagement
VILT allows students to ask questions, express their views on the subject matter, engage in classroom discussions and get the EMS continuing education they need irrespective of their location. Students from across the nation are present in VILT classrooms, providing a peek into how other agencies are operating. The students can make notes, share private chats and files with the educator and other students and learn in a group setting instead of an online self-paced course which is one-sided and doesn’t really give the student the opportunity to ask questions. This equates to having your own tutor online and on-demand, increasing the depth of knowledge.
3. Track Real-Time Records For Compliance
Using VILT, the EMS educator can track user’s performance by using built-in tools that track student participation from the time they were in the VILT classroom, what questions they answered, the discussion the student participated in and the documents they downloaded. You can even display real-time feedback to an individual student and to the group. Using VILT, it is much easier to ensure they are actively participating in education and be able to provide instant feedback to the student.
4. Set Up The Classroom To Fit Your Students Needs
Often enough, EMS agencies train following the same learning objectives but demand the education be delivered around their operational needs for how their employees receive the continuing education online. With VILT classrooms, EMS agencies can disseminate information much faster than ever before while at the same time ensuring their employees are getting the continuing education they need and have analytics to show the delivery of the education for compliance and records automatically.
5. Easy To Use VILT Platforms
There are a number of tools you can use to create engaging VILT content, such as ZOOM, Adobe Connect, Camtasia Studio and many more. With these tools, you can not only deliver the content to your students but you can also create the content to ensure it is engaging, keeps the students’ attention and is easily delivered to the student in the online VILT classrooms. Most importantly, the cost savings of utilizing VILT classrooms have been shown to save EMS agencies up to 40% on their annual education budgets allowing them to focus those dollars on other training initiatives. Companies like MedEdNow (www.medicalednow.com) have online EMS educators that departments can contract with to deliver the NREMT core requirement allowing the agency to focus on more specific localized training that meets their department’s needs.
VILT offers an opportunity for the agency and or the individual student to establish clear communication in real time between students, educators, and other participants. This means that if your EMS agency has an effective VILT program, you can exceed your department’s training goals for knowledge retention and participation by your staff, while at the same time reducing your overall educational cost and making it easier for your workforce to get the education they need from anywhere they are.
6. How to Transition to VILT/Online
MedEdNow offers demonstrations of our custom, EMS focused Training Management System, that focuses on compliance and user experience. We want to hear your education/training needs and how we can help your department. We listen to your requirements and build out the program that works in your agency. Start the transition in three easy steps.
Meet with one of our team members to discuss your agency and your training mission.
Schedule a demonstration and preview courses for free.
Review your customized program and enroll your agency members.
If you are looking for information on our robust learning management system for any type of organization, please contact Medicalednow.com at 855-298-8900 or schedule a demo today!