The DGOTC is responsible for (almost) all medical courses for the Dutch military, such as First Aid, Medical caregiver, Medic, and Military paramedic assistant courses.
Last March, many courses throughout the country were abruptly halted due to COVID-19. This was also the case at DGOTC, which resulted in quite the challenge: three medical classes were bound to go on mission in the following months, but their education could no longer continue. A solution had to be found quickly.
The DGOTC had already used GPAL in its courses previously, but now they saw an opportunity to use GPAL differently in order to quickly resume learning remotely. Due to social distancing rules and other COVID-19 measures there had to be a greater emphasis on individual learning by means of workbooks, exercises, and instructional videos.
The challenge is clear: Using GPAL to create individual learning tracks with the use of workbooks and instructional videos to quickly resume courses and training during Corona times.
Before COVID-19, traditional classes were made up of 12 trainees and one instructor. The instructor demonstrated a certain task and then the trainees would practice this task according to a fixed schedule. These courses have now been transformed to individual learning programmes.
“The Learning & Development department made instructional booklets that are supported by the GPAL app in a very short amount of time. With all instructors involved we discussed the changing role of instructor to adaptive coach. Together we have come to this product that does justice to our vision concerning learning and development of the individual within DGOTC.”
– Michaël Leenhouwers, head of the departement.
Every trainee receives their own individual learning track and instructional booklet. In the booklet, he or she can find different courses with exercises and QR-codes. When scanning the QR-code with the GPAL app, the right instructional video will appear, enabling the trainee to easily find the necessary information. After watching the video the trainee can now practice the material independently and after successfully performing the task it can be filmed with the help of a peer (while maintaining distance) or a tripod. The trainee evaluates his or her own video and uploads it in the GPAL ‘’learning environment”. The instructor can watch the videos and give personal feedback.
Below it is shown how GPAL is used in the learning process.
Since GPAL had already been used in previous courses, a lot of filming material was already available in the app. When needed, the instructors quickly made additional videos with an iPad or smartphone. The videos are saved in the GPAL app library which keeps the material neatly structured.
“At first it felt a bit odd and it took some time to adjustment [to filming], because this is so different from the way we used to do it. At the beginning trainees missed the teachers’ direct instructions. However, very quickly they got used to the new individual way of learning. They can now learn at their own pace, which is a positive experience, and there is still a lot of communication via the app. It is also very interesting to see that the trainees make excellent videos.”
Even the space in the classroom is used differently now. A classroom is now divided in four areas and each trainee has their own corner with its own learning material, such as an iPad, booklet, and GPAL account. This way the students can easily practice their tasks while still abiding by the rules of social distancing.
A learning booklet with QR-codes that is used during the course.
‘’The video-based platform GPAL helped us to quickly adapt our way of education. Within only three weeks we transitioned from traditional forms of education to an individual-based education.”
From traditional courses to individual learning within 3 weeks
Traditional forms of education are almost extinct at the DGOTC. Collective lessons (remotely) are only planned when need arises or if there is an entirely new protocol that needs to be learned. The role of educator has changed from instructor to learning coach, which has had incredibly positive consequences.
“The instructor had to adjust to the new role as coach. Their role is now more focused on giving helpful feedback. The coaches have more time to pay attention to individual trainees and are able to recognize that the making of videos stimulates and further develops the trainees metacognitive skills. The trainees are learning more in a shorter amount of time.”
The trainees are more independent in searching for the right information and developing skills. Everyone can do it in their own way and at their own pace. The coaches are present and can give more attention to those who need it. Furthermore, trainees are working more efficiently and independently with the support of the GPAL app.
An improved course
This new approach to learning is experienced positively. The trainees have more opportunities to practice and are free to learn at their own pace. There is also a lot more interaction and feedback between peers.
“Even after COVID-19 we still want to continue with independent learning with the GPAL instructional videos. Trainees have the space to determine what they personally need to learn more efficiently.”
– Michaël Leenhouwers, head of the department.
By making and sharing the videos, trainees are automatically more reflective of their own work and keep growing and improving in this way. Not only did this lead to better results, but it also meant that the course could be shortened from 5 weeks to 3 weeks. It appeared that the trainees learned faster and easier with the use of instructional videos and practice. The quality of education was remarkably enhanced, while the learning process became less intensive.
GPAL could also be used after the course
The DGOTC wants students to be able to keep using GPAL even after their courses are finished. This way they always have a visual version of protocols available to them which they can watch whenever they want. Currently the “Medical caregiver” course’s learning tasks are still practiced at the DGOTC location. However, there are plans to move a large part of this course directly to the field. This allows the student to practice within a distinct situation, because there are large differences between, for example, supporting a doctor on a Marine ship or assisting a doctor on the field. The trainee can get familiar with the workplace and tasks specific to that situation. When a new doctor or medic arrives then they can be trained the same way as well.
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