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The New Tools: What 21st Century Education Can Teach Us

The educational world is becoming flat.

A quiet revolution is underway in the way teachers and students interact using recorded lectures, YouTube, and the internet. In 2004, financial analyst turned online educator Sal Khan began tutoring his niece in math using an online drawing program. As he uploaded these lectures to YouTube, their popularity grew into a social phenomenon.

Today, Khan Academy has provided over 240 million online lessons around the world in over 4000 topics. Stanford, MIT, and other universities now offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) by top professors to all comers. In fact, Harvard Business School no longer offers an introductory accounting class due to the availability of an exceptional online course from Brigham Young University. With high-quality content readily available online, the student-teacher dynamic is changing. Students are expecting excellent instruction and teachers are expecting students to be increasingly knowledgeable about subjects from online viewing. These reciprocal heightened expectations have the potential to create a more dynamic and interactive classroom experience.

These innovations can also transform patient education by bringing patients into the circle of learning. Patients already leverage YouTube and other online sources for health purposes. For example, PatientsLikeMe was started in 2004 by the family and friends of Stephen Heywood who had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This online community helps connect patients with other similarly affected patients and aims to educate patients about the illness experience and potential treatment options. This encourages patients to think synergistically about complex problems such as outcomes, decision-making and ethics. Today, PatientsLikeMe covers more than 1200 health conditions with over 100,000 members.

Given these broad ranging developments, we need to rethink the patient–doctor encounter. The typical encounter follows the traditional pedagogic paradigm of “banking” – in which the teacher, who has the power and the knowledge, seeks to deposit knowledge assets into the learner’s bank (1). Unfortunately, though this approach induces passivity and disempowerment it is the dominant mode of patient education. Instead, imagine encounters where patients are prepared to engage in shared decision-making, allowing the office visit to center on activities that promote patient-centeredness and engagement such as confirming patient comprehension, ascertaining values, and establishing goals.

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The Boy Who Lived

[youtube width=”475″ height=”300″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmlTHfVaU9o[/youtube]

 

YouTube: Hundreds of thousands of Internet users downloaded a shockingly powerful viral YouTube clip made by an Austin teenager shortly before his death. Eighteen year old Ben Breedlove, who suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, died on Christmas day.

See Also: This Is My Story (Part 2) The second part of Ben’s story.

And: Los Angeles Times story on Breedlove, refutes charges video is a hoax.

The Social Media Doctor Is In

All around the world, businesses are getting social. Ford Motor Co. is crowd-sourcing ideas for features in future cars. Shoe seller Zappos shares Facebook “likes” with customers. Toy maker Hasbro ties Facebook videos to its Cranium board game.

Hospitals, doctors, nurses and patients would seem like naturals for social media. But they have been slow to take advantage of it because of well-founded fears of violating patient-privacy laws.

As valuable as social media can be for businesses and employees, they can also be perilous. Workers who love to use wikis and chat for personal communications or YouTube for showing off funny videos, can get in trouble when they start using them for sharing company plans or customer information.

This is particularly true in industries where information sharing is subject to government regulation. Health care is a field where strict patient-confidentiality rules have kept hospitals and doctors from embracing social media.

In a sign of the growing concern about the issue, a Westerly, R.I. hospital, just fired an emergency room doctor for posting information about a patient on her Facebook page, even though she didn’t name the patient. The disciplinary action follows sanctions against doctors and nurses in California and Wisconsin over similar issues, according to the Boston Globe.

Two physicians at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital recently wrote an opinion piece in The Annals of Internal Medicine that physicians should think of the Internet as the world’s elevator where someone is always listening in.

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