Reflections on International Education Forum (IEF) | 22nd – 26th June 2015

The 4th RCSI International Education Forum (IEF) took place from 22nd to 26th June 2015. The theme of this year is “Leadership in International Education” which focus on contemporary developments in Health Professions Education and significant projects underway across the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Prior to the conference, the talk I was most looking forward to was ‘Next Generation Personalized Learning: How we transform education’. Mr. Enda Kyne’s talk on transforming next generation’s education by infusing teaching in learning processes,understanding personalized learning, use of data to create personalized learning and space design was of particular interest to me. It was interesting to hear about the key issues facing higher education nowadays such as hiring and retaining qualified staffs, blended learning opportunity, personalized learning with standardized assessment etc. His talk contained much detailed advice for any other educators looking to understand and transform the current education system to another higher level. I learnt that students in this era learn differently and by incorporating technology in the learning process, students can choose how they want to learn and become more active and creative in learning as well as more collaborative with their teachers as facilitator to create an inquiry environment. Kirsten Olsen in her book, Wounded by School once said, “Our current system was designed in a time of information scarcity: libraries, books, printed materials were rare and precious…” I found the statement remarkably true because as all of us can see, most of the information that we want can usually be easily found just within a few clicks away in our smartphones. By using technology in personalized learning, students will have more flexibility and motivation to engage in their own way of active learning. This certainly is a new approach to enhance learning in higher education level.

The big surprise for me is how interesting I found the ‘Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Innovation at RCSI’. The TEL pilot initiative has been developed through collaboration between Health Professions Education Center (HPEC) and IT department to develop sustainable best practice models for blended learning programs in RCSI. There are 5 pilot projects focused on innovations in medical teaching and learning which are undergoing development cycle. The one that I found most fascinating one is the ‘interactive case histories for engaging student centred learning’ under Tropical Medicine curriculum. This program allows student to indulge in real-time scenario while just using a software. Students get to experience the real clinical scenario and actively learn by answering questions and writing down feedback. Besides, The other TEL projects like video simulations to support challenging consultation under Obs and Gynae and the collaborative tools to enhance engagement in a blended learning are very interesting to learn about too. There are so many novel technology software and tools that has been created to facilitate the teaching and learning experience of both educators and students. I really enjoyed listening to the different tools that are being used in different programs.

To sum up, I really feel empowered and motivated to make a change in our education system. Well, maybe not now but who knows in the near future I can bring little changes to the way learning and teaching are right now. Being a student ambassador to spread the benefits of using all these amazing tools is one way I can help to enhance better learning among students in RCSI. I hope more students and educators will have the opportunity to know all these developments and improvements in their respective fields. It was truly an enjoyable and fruitful IEF for me as a student and one of the volunteer, with opportunity for face-to-face interactions with many respectable individuals. I am definitely looking forward to the next IEF and I believe it will bring more surprises to me!

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