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Letters to the Editor  |   April 2015
Challenges of Teaching Live and Distance Audiences Simultaneously
Author Notes
  • Office of Faculty Development, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Athens 
Article Information
Medical Education
Letters to the Editor   |   April 2015
Challenges of Teaching Live and Distance Audiences Simultaneously
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, April 2015, Vol. 115, 199-200. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2015.038
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, April 2015, Vol. 115, 199-200. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2015.038
To the Editor: 
The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) recently opened an extension campus in Dublin; a second in Cleveland will open for the 2015-2016 academic year. The goal of OU-HCOM is to provide a transformative educational experience equally for the main campus and 2 extension campuses, and this goal largely focuses on videoconferencing technology. For our faculty who must now attend to 3 geographically separate audiences, we call it "the new reality" of teaching. 
Videoconferencing at OU-HCOM is primarily used for medical education through classroom lectures—still the crux of the first 2 years of medical school. Whereas technological innovations can accommodate multiple locations, they exacerbate 4 interrelated challenges: classroom attendance, learner-centered education, videoconference teaching, and faculty development. 
Classroom attendance for lectures is not required. Because audio and video recordings are available online, many students elect to attend lectures online only, where they can jump to any part of the recording, rewind, and control the speed. However, online lectures may be less engaging. 
In addition to lower attendance rates, engaging students is now more difficult for faculty because of higher student numbers and the challenges of simultaneous live and videoconference teaching. Many faculty now choose a more traditional style of lecture instead of a more engaging learner-centered strategy supported by educational and cognitive science literature.1-4 
Teaching a large lecture hall full of students is an art, as is teaching distant audiences. Distance education requires mastering new skills, including the following5: 
  • ■ engaging live and remote audiences simultaneously
  • ■ making eye contact with the remote audience by looking at the camera
  • ■ staying in camera view range
  • ■ identifying and knowing remote participants
  • ■ being cognizant of millisecond speaking delays, reliance on microphones, and remote room configurations
We have worked hard to orient OU-HCOM faculty to technological innovations. Although our efforts have been useful, they are often simulated without the fidelity of the actual experience. Faculty development must evolve to address these challenges and identify the best learner-centered teaching practices for live and distance audiences. 
One strategy OU-HCOM is exploring is the use of remote site classroom faculty to coordinate with the primary instructor and help with activities, handouts, and unique instructions. We have also developed frequently asked questions and checklists for faculty regarding videoconferencing technology.6-8 
As technology, new delivery models, and the philosophy of teaching and learning continue to evolve, colleges of osteopathic medicine must collaborate to answer such questions as: 
  • ■ How do new teaching modalities, such as the fipped classroom (ie, using the classroom for engaging activities based on learning before and outside of class), effect the new reality of teaching?
  • ■ How can one engage both live and remote students effectively?
  • ■ How can colleges of osteopathic medicine engage busy faculty members mastering new teaching skills needed for success in this changing environment?
It is incumbent on all educators to help each other in the new reality of teaching through research on best practices, participation in national conferences, and continued dialogue on this important topic. We realize the challenge of effectively teaching live and distant audiences simultaneously is a marathon and not a sprint, and we recommend that educators include this topic as an ongoing agenda item for future medical education meetings. (doi:10.7556/jaoa.2015.038) 
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