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Notes from BERST

Notes from BERST offers timely tools and tips for teaching and leading. If you'd like to learn more about anything you read here, please email

Man reflecting on learning

March 30, 2020

COVID-19 is Changing How We Teach—But Not How We Learn

Learning Only Happens Through Reflection

So, while your learners are engaged with virtual resources, consider how you can also encourage them to reflect.

Reflection can happen in group discussion or individually, and online classrooms offer a variety of ways to capture it.

For example, you can list resources then ask learners to participate in a virtual discussion on a specific topic.

If you’d rather receive reflections individually—but without clogging your inbox—consider creating an assignment submission portal where students can submit a longer written reflection with you as their only audience. (See our Remote Teaching Resources for examples of online classrooms.)

Make Sure Students Are in the Right Headspace to Learn

Feel like you need to check in with learners a little more personally?

Consider sharing this Deliberate Self-reflection Quick Guide to support a deeper look at how this situation is affecting them. It’s a great resource at any time, but feels particularly useful now.

Creating an online classroom or connecting with learners in another way?

Share your reflective process with them from time to time. A little can go a long way.

Empty hospital room

Clinical Education Without the Clinic

March 24, 2020

When COVID-19 was officially recognized as a pandemic, it became clear that learning experiences in the clinical setting for our health professions learners would be put on pause.

A dean at our affiliated medical school encouraged us to think of “educational opportunities that are more appropriate for the circumstances.”

Our learners are digital natives and we immigrants get to follow their lead.

We can learn how virtual education methods can provide clinical education—without the clinic.

Programs like Case X and i-Human are pricing their products with heavy discounts or free as a result of our current situation. There are also online simulation cases for nursing students and for emergency medicine that are getting heavy traffic.

Of course, Free Open-Access Medical Education (FOAM) is not new, particularly since emergency medicine educators have led the way by sharing via social media (#FOAMed on Twitter).

Twitter is full of clinical education discourse and always a way to keep up—if you can keep up.

And don’t think our journals are dinosaurs just yet.

Many are keeping up with the pace of information by publishing articles quickly online (like JAMANetwork and NEJM).

And some of them offer blogs that are helpful too, like AM Rounds from Academic Medicine or the blog.

These are all valuable for encouraging different learning objectives, but for them to be educational?

That still requires you.

The volume of resources continues to grow—consider a thoughtful, deliberate release of educational materials. And consider asking your learners who are interested in a career in health professions education to collaborate on ideas.

Any off-road adventure is hard, but it creates paths that never existed before.

And we're here to help, too.

BERST has put together a catalog of resources for remote teaching, including online classrooms, presentation software, and useful tips.