Don’t you just love all those buzz words? But it is true, I did design an EMT class that not only used many of the current educational strategies—and we did it with only 60 hours of in-class time. The remainder of the work was done online.
Can this work? The answer is yes. It did. Read on, I’ll tell you how.
I have long been a believer in the power of distributive education. It can be called a lot of things (distance, online, etc.) and can be synchronous or asynchronous. I designed a class with an asynchronous didactic component using the MyBradyLab platform and (not surprisingly) my EMT textbook. I also am a strong advocate for the flipped classroom concept. The classroom sessions had minimal in-seat lecture time, instead using integration- and application-based exercises. We’ve shared some of the exercises we used in the class.
The class flowed like this: It met for 12 hours every three weeks. Over a 15-week timeframe the students were in class for 60 hours. Note how the same time frame could have been used with a four-hour class every week for a semester. This timing must be carefully planned because there is a lot of off-line work that must be completed between sessions.
While in class, students used active learning techniques (group discussions, scenarios, problem-solving) and did skills practice.
There were a total of 20 people who ended up eligible to take the NREMT. 19 of those students passed the NREMT exam on the first attempt for a 95% pass rate!
What makes this even sweeter is that these classes were taught on islands off the coast of Maine to a population that traditionally had trouble getting enough people for EMT classes. The course produced vital local EMTs for a community-based EMS system.
I don’t think every class will rock like this one with such a great pass rate and I can’t claim this cohort proves it will work in all settings. I do believe there were some things that clearly led to the success. They include:
- Great educators. Kerry Pomelow and Tessa Hastings taught the classes. They needed to really gauge the student’s needs and do more on their feet thinking than an instructor teaching a 160-hour traditional slide-based lecture course. They also had a solid grasp of EMT knowledge and could facilitate to make group exercise and discussions true learning experiences.
- Good course materials. I can take some credit for this since I developed all of the in-class activities. This is my passion. I am increasingly against traditional PowerPoint-based lecture and believe in the flipped model. You must maximize your in-class time for the important stuff. The MyBradyLab provided a structured didactic foundation to use outside of class.
- Motivated students are also important. This applies in any distance or asynchronous class. Not every student is cut out for this class.
What do you think? Do you believe this type of EMT class would work in your system? Would you want to teach it?