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Exploring the ‘Flipped Classroom’ model

Dr. Traci Wolbrink speaking at the Digital Education Strategies for Implementing the Flipped Classroom syposium.
Dr. Traci Wolbrink speaking at the Digital Education Strategies for Implementing the Flipped Classroom syposium.

The power of the ‘flipped classroom’ teaching model for maximizing learning outcomes among medical students was discussed by two visiting experts at a two-day symposium at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q).

The flipped classroom model reverses traditional teaching approaches by using interactive learning tools, particularly digital resources like online videos, to empower students to acquire foundational knowledge in their own time rather than in the classroom. This allows instructors to use class time to utilize that knowledge as a basis for a variety of enriched learning activities such as collaborative discussions, practical exercises and, crucially for medical students, simulated learning sessions that mimic real-world interactions with patients.

More than 60 educators working in the health professions field attended the ‘Digital Education Strategies for Implementing the Flipped Classroom’ conference, which was delivered by Dr. Traci Wolbrink and Dr. Dennis Daniel, both of Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Attendees took part in 12 interactive learning sessions over the two days, covering topics such as the evolution of medical education in the digital context, characteristics of millennial learners, adult learning theory, definitions of the flipped classroom, audience response systems and practical advice on how to create effective and compelling video and audio recordings for learners.

Dr. Wolbrink, associate in critical care medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and assistant professor in anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, said: “We know that medical students are excellent at integrating knowledge from written material and videos, so if they can do that outside of the classroom we can use that valuable and expensive classroom time for more interactive and effective learning strategies. If we as educators can curate the right content for them to learn ahead of time they have better questions for their instructors and they can engage in activities that are more exciting and effective than listening to a didactic lecture.”

The event was coordinated by WCM-Q’s Division of Continuing Professional Development as part of the college’s Educators Across the Healthcare Spectrum series, which promotes excellence and innovation in the field of health professions education.

Dr. Daniel, assistant in critical care medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said: “Millennial learners have grown up with digital communications technologies and they are accustomed to going to the internet to find answers to things, to learning about things by watching brief videos and to reaching out to their peers and collaborating on all types of topics. These are the kinds of behaviors that the flipped classroom can leverage in order to promote development of foundational knowledge and enhance learning outcomes. At the same time, millennial learners still really value – probably more than ever before – the interconnections between each other and their educational facilitators.”

The event was accredited locally by the Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners-Accreditation Department (QCHP-AD) and internationally by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).

Dr. Robert Crone, vice dean for clinical & faculty affairs at WCM-Q, was one of the event’s course directors. He said: “Utilization of videos and other digital assets as teaching aids aligns extremely well with the strengths and learning habits of medical students today. The flipped classroom model not only makes the best use of limited time but also makes learning more active, self-directed, engaging and rewarding for students.”