The power of eLearning
21 November, 2022
My enthusiasm for eLearning began as a higher trainee in psychiatry, when I was involved in the early development of Trainees Online (a.k.a. TrOn, not to be confused with the 1982 sci-fi film), the College’s online learning resource to help trainees prepare for the MRCPsych exams. I went on to author a TrOn module on Altruism, which involved some very interesting reading.
I was inspired by these experiences to apply for my current role as Deputy Editor of CPD eLearning and TrOn at the College, just before COVID turned all our lives upside down.
For many months eLearning was the only game in town, as face to face teaching sessions and conferences were cancelled.
The College responded by running webinars to support psychiatrists’ training needs through the pandemic, developing online versions of Section 12/Approved Clinician courses and ensuring that 100% of CPD could be achieved online for the purposes of appraisal.
The College also undertook a major replatforming of its eLearning resources during this period, launching the new eLearning Hub in summer of 2021.
Thankfully, in-person learning events are starting up again, as there is much to recommend the opportunity to discuss issues with colleagues together in the same room.
Powerful role in approach to lifelong learning
However, the benefits of eLearning and the powerful role this can play within a mixed modality approach to lifelong learning are now much more widely recognised.
I have recently taken over as the organiser of the Oxford Postgraduate Psychiatry Course (our local ‘MRCPsych’ course), where we are using a mixture of eLearning, live online lectures, and in-person small group and simulation-based sessions.
The hope is that this maximises the pedagogical benefits and allows opportunities for participants to meet occasionally, while minimising unnecessary, time-consuming and environmentally costly travel.
My own approach to CPD
This mirrors my own approach to CPD, which is currently a blend of different modalities. I recently completed RCPsych’s Approved Clinician Refresher course online, which was a great combination of ‘in your own time’ eLearning and a live webinar to discuss issues with peers and facilitators.
I have also enjoyed studying online modules on clinical trials as part of my recent training award from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (the online exams were not so enjoyable, but much more convenient than trekking to an examination centre!).
It has been fantastic to be able to also get out and about to educational events, including my first multiday conferences since March 2020. Despite the innovative use of various types of online breakout rooms, there really is nothing quite like talking to people in person to develop professional relationships.
Ultimate benefit to patients
It is often those chance meetings or conversations that lead to the most productive outcomes, which are just so hard to replicate in cyberspace.
I would like the diversification of learning modalities to continue and see eLearning as fundamental to that process.
Everyone learns in unique ways and the more approaches we can offer, the more effective our ongoing professional education will be, which will be to the ultimate benefit of our patients.