Innovations in MedEd

The growth of technology and its proliferation across all aspects of our lives, at all hours of the day, and from around the world has changed the way we think and absorb information. Gone are the days of waiting for a bill to arrive in the mail, or news to be printed in the paper, or show-up on the evening news. Everything is immediate and bombarding us without end.  This has changed the way we think and absorb information. We’ve become accustomed to taking tidbits of information in bits and bytes and processing it, and then going back for more if it interests us. Gone are the days of reading full articles or listening to full stories to get the gist of the conversation. So, we have become accustomed to learning or paying attention in 15 – 20 mins increments, and absorbing more with less through visuals, videos and interactions with data. Does it make sense to continue to deliver the same education with long lectures to a populace whom absorb information differently from a generation or two ago…

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way students learn and teaching from a distance is becoming the norm. We need to adapt and find new ways to bring the learners of tomorrow up to speed. The expectation for education from our tech savvy students is to reflect their upbringing with a technological-enhanced learning environment. The modern student lives in a hybrid world of their own creation. They are familiar with the potential of a hybrid environment and will not be satisfied with an education that consists solely of classrooms, lecture halls, whiteboards, and PowerPoint slides. They expect a learning approach that is a mixture of online education and classroom lectures whereby you maintain the face-to-face contact and sense of community, while delivering more engaging and impactful lectures. Foundational knowledge can be delivered and learned by an effective and engaging online format, leaving classroom time for more engaging discussions about the topic.  

Man wearing virtual reality googles

Photo credit: Pixabay

To prepare for the future and the best way to teach the medical professionals of the future, we established a Rapid Knowledge Synthesis team under the leadership of Lois Crowe. With her dedicated squad of medical students, they compiled an extensive library of tactics and strategies to employ in the modernization of curriculum delivery methods using technology. They compiled dozens and dozens of articles and research papers highlighting the usage of augmented and virtual reality, simulation, and advanced gaming to teach an evolving learner.

We think it may be time to change, to evolve, and coming out of this pandemic we will bring some new tools and technology to the table to address some of these changes. Through the establishment of 3 scrum teams, composed of Software Engineering students, Medical students, and Faculty members, we are working towards delivering new learning methods. We are developing more advanced online learning platforms that are modular with skill testing questions, to break-up the learning, test your understanding of the subject matter, and allow you to learn at your own pace and time of day. We all live busy lives and may learn better at different times of day. Online learning gives you this flexibility. 

We will also bring some new games and simulation to the table to teach some challenging topics that some view as dryer than your martini. The games will not only teach you concepts and skills, but the will to live and win. The games will challenge your mind, engage multiple senses and make learning fun.

Finally, for those that have evolved beyond games and modular learning, we are starting to explore taking your education from this world to the virtual world. Immersive learning engages all of your senses and provides some of the highest knowledge retention, while increasing collaboration and empathy. Virtual Reality also has the capability to deliver health benefits as well. It can allow you to escape your actual world and relax in a fantasy-land and give your mind a break. It can be used to help those suffering from anxiety and depression by allowing them to face their issues in a safe and controlled environment while receiving some help from the virtual counselor in there with you. 

So, there are some very exciting times ahead of us. We continue to develop and study these topics, and look for your input on their future development and implementation.

Scotiabank and MD Financial Management

The Department of Family Medicine at the University of Ottawa thanks Scotiabank Healthcare+ and MD Financial Management for a $2,500 donation for innovations in medical education to support delivering new learning methods through simulation, gamification and virtual reality to our medical students.

Questions? Contact Jeff Puncher by email at

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