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A Look at How Perusall is Beyond a Discussion Board | Social Learning Amplified

 

Episode 7 of the Social Learning Amplified podcast brings you a conversation on how Perusall is more than a discussion board. Eric Mazur sits down with Dr. Staci Saner and Dr. Laura Weingartner from the University of Louisville to chat about how they use Perusall in their healthcare education courses.


Eric Mazur:

Welcome to the Social Learning Amplified podcast, the podcast that brings us candid conversations with educators who are finding new ways to engage and motivate their students inside and outside the classroom. Each episode of Social Learning Amplified will give you real life examples and practical strategies you can put into practice in your own courses. Let's meet today's guests!

Eric Mazur:

Welcome to Social Learning Amplified. I'm your host Eric Mazur. And our guests on the episode today are Dr. Staci Saner and Dr. Laura Weingartner. Staci is assistant professor and director of the Office of Faculty Development at the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center. She's also director of the Health Professions Education Program with the College of Education and Human Development. Laura is assistant professor and director of Research for Health Professions Education at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Thank you both for joining us today.

Laura Weingartner: (photo right)

Thanks for having us. _Laura Weingartner_0676

Eric Mazur:

Well, lovely having you here. Medicine is a rapidly evolving field and and practitioners in medicine need to stay current in their fields often through reading. What do you do to inculcate this, this kind of lifelong learning in medicine in an age of, you know, five minute YouTubes and 30 seconds talks? I would love to hear more about that from both of you.

Staci Saner : (photo below)

Sure. I would say we also integrate five minute chunks of content as well. We have what we call micro- learning where, I mean, our role is to help faculty, medical faculty be better educators and better leaders. And so the, the content that we produce is all about helping them with teaching and learning. And Laura helps with their research around education. So our stuff is also in five minute chunks because we know busy clinical faculty don't have a whole lot of time, and so we try to give them little chunks of information because that's all they have time to digest sometimes <laugh>.

_Saner, Staci_6062Laura Weingartner:

Yeah. And I think that with Medi, you know, all the health professions learners and specifically in the School of Medicine, we really try to emphasize self-directed learning too, because like you said, it's always new information that's being published. All kinds of new information that they're going to have to continue learning after they've graduated from medical school or some of the other health health profession schools. They're really expected to be lifelong learners.

Eric Mazur:

But of course that information later in their career. I assume. I'm not in the School of Medicine myself, but I assumed a lot of the information that they receive later in their careers after graduating will not be in the form of a, you know, five minute YouTube. It will be probably in, in the form of an article in a professional journal. So at some point people need to transition from this bite size information transfer to learning how to parse, you know, more in depth reading.

Laura Weingartner:

Definitely. And I think that, you know, something that we've done in our courses, and maybe Staci it would be helpful to talk about our courses, but we use a lot of of journal articles and you know, my course is an evidence-based health professions education course. We don't even have a textbook. We rely solely on academic journal articles. Staci, do you wanna talk about the..

Staci Saner :

Sure. We, Laura and I, both work in part out of the College of Education as well as the School of Medicine and out of the College of Education we run the Health Profession's Education program. And that is where faculty from all health science disciplines come to learn and actually take graduate courses, coursework about teaching and learning. And so, just as Laura said, we generally use articles and research and we put those into Perusall because it really provides a wonderful opportunity for not only to get in there and read and, and, you know, make, you know, connections to their prior knowledge, but it builds that community with their cohort with faculty from across the health science campus. Because, you know, somebody in the medical school, in the Department of Surgery, highly doubt has ever met somebody in the dental school. You know, it, it's, they've never been together. Yeah. It's, it's alien to them.

Eric Mazur:

So I was very pleased to hear that you yourselves produce a podcast. I, I saw that you had produced two podcasts on Perusall for a podcast called Faculty Feed. Can you tell me more about the purpose of that podcast series?

Laura Weingartner:faculty feed

Sure. So we started Faculty Feed last year. I think we've got about 50 episodes out now at, at the time that we're, we're having this conversation. And it really focuses on our local faculty community at the University of Louisville, you know, and, and a lot of the episodes are applicable for faculty on and off our, our Health Sciences Center, the our undergraduate campus as well. Because we cover topics that are, are relevant for anyone who is in a, a teaching or a leadership position. And the reason the, the big drive behind developing the podcast is we realized it was tough to engage our faculty. as you can imagine during the pandemic that our, our faculty were so busy <laugh> on a health sciences center that they didn't have time to sit down and work through our modules. they didn't have time to really get into the literature, but through a podcast, they can listen to us talking about, you know, best practices in teaching or new resources or tools that we or our colleagues are using because they can do it when they're driving into work or they can do it when they're walking the dog. So it made it able for us to engage with our faculty a lot easier.

Eric Mazur:

You mentioned earlier that you've used Perusall in your own courses. I would love to hear more about your implementation, what the expectation is from the students, how you integrated with other parts of the curriculum.

Staci Saner :

Sure. First of all, I mean, we love Perusall. It has been a fantastic resource for us in our health professions education. We have a graduate certificate and a master's degree in health professions education. And the graduate certificate program Laura and I and one other individual, we are the instructors of those four courses. And we all put all reading into Perusall. This is a stark change from what it had been before where they were on a discussion board. But the Perusall actually allows the faculty to dive into the content, but I don't have to worry about checking up on them, you know, if, does that make sense? and our students are faculty, right? So I always call them my faculty <laugh>. So, but the readings are there and we can see whether or not they get into them and they almost immediately start making connections to something clinically related, or, oh my gosh, this is why X, Y or Z happened, or when I was in the hospital yesterday, this makes sense why when I was interacting with this student. And so they are able to take that content very quickly and attach it to some prior knowledge that they have from a clinical experience.

Laura Weingartner:

And I'll say too, the, the way that we really have used Perusall, excuse me, as, as a replacement for the discussion board. mm-hmm. Because in all of our courses they are hybrid, which means half the time they we're in person half the time we are asynchronous. So we really wanted to have a tool that would engage our learners on the weeks that we weren't meeting. And I think a lot of instructors that, that do this use some sort of a discussion board, which ends up being read this article on your own and then come back to the discussion board. Everybody answers the same question. And then, because it's not really inherently engaging, you then attach to your assignment and everybody come back and respond to two of, you know, two of your classmates by the end of the week. And people would get back on.

Yes, I agree. As, you know, and they, they already had that conversation cuz they answered the, the question themselves. So we were looking not necessarily maybe even, we weren't looking for something better than the discussion board. It kind of just was the, the status quo. And then we learned about perusal from a colleague who really liked it in one of those big, you know, 150 student survey classes. And we thought this could really make an impact in our courses. And we just haven't looked back. It's been such a, such a change because you know that the, you know, your learners are doing the reading and you see the conversations that they're having. And it's not just about that one discussion question you pose, it's the entire content that they're engaging with it. It's really a powerful tool. We've really loved using it.

Eric Mazur:

So it's very interesting to listen to you have this discussion because just earlier this morning I was sort of talking with some colleagues about the difference between Perusall and discussion board, say like Piazza, I mean, to some degree Perusall is a, <laugh> is a discussion board too. People discuss, people discuss on Perusall, people discuss on Piazza. And, and of course in one case the discussion is tied to a specific part of the content of in the media, whether it's, you know, print mm-hmm or video or audio. But listening to you, I'm thinking what is it that makes it different and why is it that a tool like Perusall helps students engage more? What is it that is inherently different? Because in both cases, at the most basic level, it's a discussion.

Laura Weingartner:

I think something, you know, we've looked at this in our courses because we were wondering, is it just our perception that students <laugh> that this was a better, better form of engagement for our students? So we actually went back and looked on our health professions education courses. Did we have articles where in some courses that we used with the discussion board, other courses we had used with Perusall and be, and we wanted to do this direct comparison because you know, if you try to quantify it or look at themes, it could be different if you're discussing different articles, you know, this one's longer. This one has more different kinds of content. So we needed a direct comparison and we found a couple different pairs that we could that we were able to compare across classes.

And we found, you know, not only our are learners making more comments in perusal compared to the discussion board, but there, the difference in the themes that are coming up in their discussions, there's much more in Perusall compared to the discussion board. And I think it's for two reasons. The first is because the content is there when they're having those discussions. It's not, you're reading it on your own and then you're coming to you know, to a separate tool to make a summary comment. You're actually, you know, you're highlighting within the actual resource or you're stopping the video, you know, and actually having that conversation when the resources right there. But then also they're able to generate ideas. And like Staci said earlier, they're making the connections between different content in your course, throughout the whole piece. And they're deciding what connects to them instead of you as an instructor trying to say, okay, what's the big takeaway here? Which is still important, but you can still do that in Perusall with a final question or in the instructions. I think it's just, it's a different experience for them and for us, it's been much more effective.

Staci Saner :

I was gonna add also in the, the research that Laura was talking about, we also saw that, you know, a lot of times we would ask the, we would ask our students to come back and make, you know, comment on two colleagues posts, right? Well, within Perusall the conversations continue, right? We may have paragraphs after paragraphs after paragraphs of these conversations and new ideas. We're in a discussion board. It's like, oh, yes, I agree. And yes, I agree, and, and nobody goes deeper. But in Perusall, I mean, people are, sometimes it will keep going long after the assignment has passed.

Eric Mazur:

And of course, your students, quote unquote, are are faculty members, right? So yeah, they're participating com they're participating completely because of intrinsic motivation. There's no there's no credit or anything.

Laura Weingartner:

Not, not credit that matters <laugh>. They're, I think when they, they take our courses, they get graded in the courses, but they already have a terminal degree. They have, you know, they have their, their full- time position. But they take these courses because they're, like you said, are intrinsically motivated to learn how to become better educators. So it's true.

Eric Mazur:

So let's move from the course you teach to the course your colleagues teach like that, that introductory course of hundred and 50 students, you mentioned before which through which you found out about Perusall. How are your colleagues teaching those courses using Perusall?

Staci Saner :

Well, I would point out a lot of our faculty, especially the clinical faculty, don't have direct like courses, right? They don't teach in a classroom. They teach in the hospital. They teach in the clinic. And so the biggest way that we have seen faculty utilizing perusal is through the idea of journal clubs and journal clubs. I mean, the classic journal club, you know, it would be the, the attending physician and a bunch of residents and maybe some students who happen to be on that rotation. They would post the article and say, we're gonna be reading the article this week, and when we get together at the end of the week, we're gonna discuss any questions you have. And so they post the article, the residents or fellows are in there having a discussion about the article. And then when they get together, they actually talk about it in more depth and answer questions other people brought up. And maybe even more importantly, how does this article change the way we practice this particular piece of medicine as opposed to the old way of journal clubs? Here's the article. Who's gonna talk about it on Friday? All right, I'll do it. And then that person comes in and rehashes the article. There was no in-depth discussion. And so I think that is one of the ways Perusall has really changed the process of a journal club.

Eric Mazur:

It's absolutely wonderful to hear. It's sort of like a, a flipped journal club.

Staci Saner :

Yes, it really is.

Laura Weingartner:

I think for...

Eric Mazur:

Sorry Laura, I, I interrupted you.

Laura Weingartner:

That's a not a problem at all. I one of the key pieces for on a health sciences center how Perusall helps with journal clubs is that standalone section. That's a standalone Perusall course that doesn't have to be integrated in a a learning management system is actually key because a lot of times you have people, okay, they're affiliated with the university, these people are affiliated with this hospital system, these people are affiliated with this hospital system. It can be really hard to use a tool that you have to have a single lm a single LMS login for. So what we've really told a lot of our colleagues about is having this standalone course where you have a, you know, a unique key that they can register for, really opens up the, the potential to have those cross discipline or like cross system journal clubs. So that's been removed some barriers to,

Staci Saner :

It's moved a lot of barriers cuz I know a lot of groups, you know, like maybe there's nurse practitioners and other, you know, professionals, but they actually work for the hospital system. Yeah. They can't get into the University of Louisville stuff. So when they set up the approval, you know, as a freestanding class, anyone can interact in that journal club now. Whereas before, only if you were a University of Louisville, you know, faculty or student could you get into the, the LMS to be able to participate in other things like that. So that has been huge for us.

Eric Mazur:

And shifting gears a little bit one of you, or maybe both of you at some point mentioned research and I think research and education is really important. because so many decisions in education are just based on anecdotal data and not grounded in, in facts and data. So hearing that you've actually been doing educational research around Perusall in your courses and maybe in other courses is wonderful. What are some of your findings? What are some of the things that you're currently studying? What do you find particularly exciting about what you've found?

Laura Weingartner:

So the study that we did in our our health professions education courses that I talked about earlier, we found that students you know, in similar class sizes, they were commenting on an individual level per students. They made more comments per a given assignment than they did for a discussion board. So looking at the same article between classes at different times, some that had used the discussion board, some that had used Perusall. But we did a qualitative analysis and also found that the themes of the of the content that was being discussed, it was more, more themes and more topics were being discussed with Perusall than on the discussion board. I think though, one of the, one of the things I'm most excited about is we've been working with teams to think about innovative ways that they might use Perusall in health professions or health professions education. And one of the groups that we've worked with is actually piloting it with interprofessional simulation. So simulation in healthcare is where you are setting up an event or an activity to mimic what might happen in a real life clinical scenario. But you're not using actual patients or it's, it's more what am I trying to say, Staci? It's not structured low.

Staci Saner :

Yeah. It's not, it's not very structured.

Laura Weingartner:

Yes. It, it's low stakes. So you have that ability to practice. And the team that that I'm thinking of, they were an interprofessional team. And inter, you can imagine that interprofessional simulation would be important because healthcare is interprofessional. You know, if you are being picked up by an ambulance and then taken to an er, there's lots of different care teams that are interacting with you along the way. But trying to get all of those people together into a single room to practice some of these skills at the same time really was a challenge because of, you know, time and space constraints. So this team actually used perusal to tape, you know, using an iPhone. They're taping patient simulations with different care teams and uploading those videos into perusal so that different teams can have conversations about the interactions and provide, you know, forward and backward feedback within the perusal system. So it, it takes away that need to be, at the same time, the same place to have those that type of training.

Staci Saner :

Right.

And so, like the emergency room physicians were commenting on what the the paramedics were doing, and then, you know, the NICU is commenting on what the emergency physicians were doing, and then they were, you know, able to comment up and, and back along the train.

Eric Mazur:

That's wonderful. In closing, just a short question, maybe a quick answer from each of you. If there's one advice you would give to our listeners, especially those who are in the health professions and who may be considering implementing Perusall what would that advice be?

Staci Saner :

For me, it's easy. It's create a sandbox. Just play you know, give it a shot. That's the quick answer for me.

Laura Weingartner:

I think for me, okay, "give it a shot" from Staci. In me, it's "think outside the box". Because I think when a lot of instructors are, they hear about Perusall and they think, well, I don't have a didactic course, I don't have a classroom that I'm teaching in. But we see a lot of innovative ideas from our faculty of how this could be used for, especially for health professions faculty with videos and other source or case studies and other types of assignments that aren't just a standard textbook or journal article.

Eric Mazur:

Great. Well, brings us to the end of our time for this podcast. Thank you for listening. And thank you especially to our both of our guests, Dr. Staci Saner and Dr. Laura Weingartner. if you're interested in their podcast, just google Faculty Feed. It should come up right at the top! You can find our podcast, including this one and more on perusall.com/SocialLearningAmplified all in one word. Subscribe to join us on our next episode. And thank you again to both of you for joining us today.

Staci Saner :

Thank you.

Eric Mazur:

Social Learning Amplified is sponsored by Perusall, the social learning platform that motivates students by increasing engagement, driving, collaboration, and building community through your favorite course content. To learn more, join us at one of our introductory webinars. Visit perusall.com to learn more and register.

 

 

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