Developing knowledge, competence and performance in healthcare can be a complex process. While clinical education helps expose students and professionals to authentic learning experiences, those learners also need access to tacit knowledge and clinical reasoning skills in order to interpret clinical problems.
Blended learning can offer opportunities to bridge learning gaps by integrating face-to-face and online interaction. In this blog we look at how blended learning can help put theory into practice, apply education and make connections between text and clinical practice in order to help fill the education-practice gaps in healthcare.
What Are Education-Practice Gaps in Healthcare?
An education-practice gap refers to a problem that exists in practice or an opportunity for improvement in terms of knowledge (does not know), skill (does not know how to), or practice (does not do). In a clinical setting, these gaps can be identified through a gap analysis. This type of needs assessment helps identify necessity for a specific educational activity, frame learning objectives, select the appropriate teaching methods to achieve objectives and implement appropriate assessment methods.
The Role of Blended Learning in Closing Education-Practice Gaps
Leveraging existing technologies and alternative teaching methods such as blended learning can help transform healthcare education. We will look at three ways this learning model helps bridge education-practice gaps.
Blended Learning Aligns Learning Activities with Clinical Practice
Blended learning incorporates a combination of theory and practice from instructor-centered and student-centered learning. This in turn places less emphasis on what students are taught and focuses more on how students can use their learning to solve problems, perform procedures, communicate effectively or make good clinical decisions.
With this learning model, in-person teaching can be centered on students performing specific tasks and activities representative of specific competencies, while the online learning portion focuses on providing students with specific knowledge and skills for face-to-face meetings.
Blended Learning Provides Opportunities to Share Culture-Based Content
Healthcare professionals are required to deliver care for a number of culturally and linguistically diverse patients. In this environment, cultural competence plays an important role in the delivery and structure of the healthcare system. This concept is defined as an understanding of how social and cultural factors influence the health beliefs and behaviors of patients and how these factors are considered at different levels of a healthcare delivery system to help ensure quality healthcare.
Cultural competence is more of a process than an ultimate goal. This means that it’s developed in stages by building upon previous knowledge and experience. Blended learning helps support this concept. With this learning model, healthcare students and professionals can participate in face-to-face learning activities such as seminars or training sessions but can also have access to supplementary content that they can engage with at their own pace and, if necessary, can review repeatedly.
Blended Learning Fosters Collaboration
With blended learning, healthcare students and professionals are no longer confined to communicating in a scheduled classroom or training session. Instead, there are different asynchronous and synchronous tools to help facilitate communication and collaboration, such as discussion forums, announcements, video recordings, interactive polls, and video/audioconferencing.
This helps support the growing move to interprofessional collaboration in healthcare, which is the practice of approaching patient care from a team-based perspective. Blended learning helps facilitate alternative ways of collaboration, allowing learners to work functionally to help improve patient outcomes and bridge practice gaps.
Learn How the Use of D2L Brightspace can Go Far Beyond Expectations
The MGH Institute of Health Professions has leveraged the Brightspace platform to facilitate its growth and expansion. When the school first migrated to Brightspace from its homegrown learning management system—going live just 20 days after making its decision—the school had just 900 students enrolled in its programs. Today it supports over 1,600 students and an expanding online presence for the MGH Institute.
Zeina Abouchacra is the EDU Content Marketing Specialist at D2L. She has worked in the higher education sector in various communications positions as well as a researcher and a teaching assistant. Specifically, teaching undergraduate-level communication university courses. Zeina is currently working towards completing her Master of Arts Communication degree at the University of Ottawa.
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