Friday, August 29, 2008

Google Quick Tip #11

It's 6pm on the Friday just before the Labor Day weekend...The fog is rolling back into San Francisco after a three day "heat wave" in the City. I think longingly for the daily dose of Hawaiian sunshine that I enjoyed while living in Honolulu.

Hmmm...I wonder what the weather is like in Honolulu right now? I'd sure like to be there rather than in this thick San Francisco fog in August.

Wait a minute...let me check the weather on Google!


Type the word weather before either the name or the zip code of the location you are interested in finding.

In Google, I searched on
weather 94143 to find the weather forecast for my San Francisco neighborhood, and got this result:

Then I searched on
weather honolulu to find the weather forecast for Honolulu, Hawaii:

Wow! Suddenly I don't feel so bad. For the next four days at least, I'll be enjoying more dry and sunny weather than folks in Honolulu. But Hawaiians don't have it so bad. With the rain always come rainbows when the sun breaks through.

PubMed Quick Tip #6

Using PubMed's Journals Database to Find Journals on a Specific Topic

PubMed has a Journals Database that allows you to search for journal titles that relate to a topic that you find interesting. This can be a helpful way to learn of what journals are in your field that you were not aware of.

1) Select the Journals Database link in the left menu of PubMed

2) Type in a topic

3) If there is a long list of journals on your topic, you can use the Limits tab to narrow the results

Monday, August 25, 2008

Podcasting Lectures: Friend or Foe

Podcasting of lectures has been the most common use of broadcasting and archiving educational content using media files. "Enhanced podcasts" are growing in popularity because listeners can also view the lecture content, such as PowerPoint slides, while listening to the lecture.

As more students listen to podcasts of their lectures, will this make them less likely to attend lectures? Is this an issue that professors should worry about as they decide to podcast their lectures? Or are we starting to sound like our predecessors who worried if radio would replace the book, if TV would replace the radio, or if CDs would replace LPs?

Below is a presentation by educators at the University of Bath in the U.K. Slide16 through the end of the presentation cover reasons why enhanced podcasts can enhance learning.

There is no denying that some students will be even less motivated to attend lectures because they can view them online. But the benefits outweigh the risks.

As of Aug 2008, there are 52 articles, dating back to December 2005, that mention podcasts.

Here's the most recent article specifically targeting podcasts for undergraduate medical students:

Pilarski, PP, Alan Johnstone, D, Pettepher, CC, et al. (2008). From music to macromolecules: using rich media/podcast lecture recordings to enhance the preclinical educational experience. Medical teacher, 30(6), 630-2.

I also blogged early this year about an article that looked at how podcasting lectures influenced student in-person attendance. Time will tell us what becomes of all this podcasting. But there's no doubt that podcasting will evolve to find its place in education.

Have We Over PowerPointed Medical Students?

Has lecturing with PowerPoint (ppt) made medical students lazy learners? Is there no longer any reason for students to read their textbooks? Is teaching with ppt a disservice to students?

This transcript of a thought-provoking talk given by Dr. Frederick S. Southwick of the University of Florida College of Medicine, may give us some answers to these questions He is the 2007 recipient of the Theodore E. Woodward Award honoring physicians who have made major contributions to medical education research:

Southwick, FS. (2007). Theodore E. Woodward Award: spare me the PowerPoint and bring back the medical textbook. Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, 118, 115-22.

A tutorial for 4th year medical students revealed absent long-term retention of microbiology and infectious disease facts taught during the 2nd year. Students were suffering from the Ziegarnik effect, the loss of memory after completion of a task. PowerPoint lectures and PowerPoint notes combined with multiple-choice questions may have encouraged this outcome; this teaching format was also associated with minimal use of the course textbook. During the subsequent year, active learning techniques, Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT) and Peer Instruction (PI) were used, and instructors specifically taught from the textbook. Essays and short answer questions were combined with multiple-choice questions to encourage understanding and recall. Performance on the National Board Shelf exam improved from the 59(th) percentile (2002-2004) to the 83(rd) percentile (2005), and textbook use increased from 1.6% to 79%. This experience demonstrates that strategies incorporating active learning and textbook use correlate with striking improvement in medical student performance.