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Communications - News at Medicine - June 2015 - Faculty of Medicine receives international recognition for innovative learning spaces


Faculty of Medicine receives international recognition for innovative learning spaces
June 18, 2015
What do you do when you want to offer the best learning experience but the right software doesn’t exist? You build it yourself.
 
The Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University has received an AMX Innovation Award for its creation of an original and unique interface design for the new learning spaces in the Medical Education Centre on the St. John’s campus.
 
The award, which includes $25,000 in AMX hardware and software for Memorial, was received on Monday, June 15, at UBTech 2015 in Orlando, Fla. 
 
The annual AMX Innovation Awards at UBTech celebrate innovative higher education institutions and their use of audiovisual and information technology. There were more than 90 submissions worldwide. From those, 19 universities were selected for review; four winners were chosen in specific categories. Memorial University was one of four universities nominated in the non-traditional learning spaces category.
 
In October 2014 the Faculty of Medicine opened the Medical Education Centre on Memorial’s St. John’s campus. Along with the construction of the new teaching facilities, the faculty introduced a new curriculum in 2013. With this in mind, it was determined the new building would need two large lecture theatres and 13 small group learning spaces that would be designed to enhance collaboration.
 
During the curriculum renewal, new integrated learning sessions were designed within the curriculum and would require innovative spaces to enable these events. The Faculty of Medicine’s older learning rooms and lecture theatres did not have this ability and it became essential to find a way that would enhance the learning experience in a large class or small group environment.  
 
“We were given the challenge of designing new spaces for learners that contained advanced education technology,” explained Steve Pennell, lead designer for the new learning spaces and software UI and manager of the health education technology and learning team in the faculty’s Health Sciences Information and Media Service (HSIMS) unit. “After the decision was reached to use AMX equipment, we explored how the new spaces would be used and determined how the interfaces for the equipment should be designed. The systems had to be easy to navigate and enable an end user to use the in-room PCs or allow their own device to plug into the space and just work.” 
 
AMX touch panels allowed the education technology and learning team to design a user interface for the small group learning rooms with video conferencing. The interface permits users to switch easily between input devices to two different displays. When using video conferencing, they are able to share data on one screen and have video on the other, which allows offsite teachers and learners to be active participants. The core user interface was then replicated throughout all AMX touch panels in the remainder of the building.  
 
“Instead of having students lined up to look at a microscope to view a slide, they now use digital programs to explore this information in a team setting,” said Mr. Pennell. “During breakout sessions on the side wall displays, learners are able to share their onscreen content with any other display in the room. That means the medical students are discussing differential diagnoses and can share each of their team’s findings with any other team or the entire room.”
 
Sean O’Neill, director, HSIMS, says the award will enable the Faculty of Medicine to install the same type of touch panel controls in the remaining rooms with the same award-winning design principles applied in the new spaces.
 
“In medical education, it’s essential to have the best teaching and learning environments available,” said Mr. O’Neill. “The health-education technology and learning team identified a need and have created spaces that provide maximum technical and collaborative flexibility that also support traditional teaching and learning.”
 
“Our new curriculum enables instructors to provide students with a self-directed, active and experiential learning experience to enable them to become world-class doctors,” said Dr. James Rourke, dean of medicine. “The new learning spaces and technology in the Medical Education Centre are some of the most technologically innovative and collaborative teaching spaces at Memorial University.”
 
Dr. Rourke explained further that collaboration and teamwork are important skills that benefit all medical professionals. He hopes the continued development of these skills will continue throughout the students’ medical careers and therefore improve health outcomes for the general population.
 
Mr. O’Neill noted that like the final product’s purpose to encourage team work, the original vision of the end user experience became a reality thanks to collaboration among a number of teams across campus: the health education technology and learning team in HSIMS; the graphic design team in HSIMS; computer support team in HSIMS; Distance Education, Learning And Teaching Support; the Memorial expansion team; Engineering Harmonics; Genesis Integration Inc; and faculty and staff in the Faculty of Medicine.

 
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