15 February 2022

CASE: DGOTC innovates their training courses in just 3 weeks time during COVID-19 pandemic

The Challenge 

The Military Healthcare Education and Training Centre (DGOTC) is responsible for organising (almost) all medical courses for the Dutch Armed forces. For example, First Aid,  , Medic and Military paramedic assistant. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DGOTC had to abruptly shut down training in March. This presented 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. 

DGOTC saw an opportunity to use GPAL Academy to quickly resume learning. 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 Approach 

Before COVID-19, traditional classes were made up of 12 trainees and one instructor. The instructor provided demonstrations after which trainees could practise according to a set schedule. These courses have now been transformed to individual learning programmes. 

”The video-based learning platform GPAL enabled us to switch teaching methods very quickly. In less than three weeks, we switched from classroom teaching to independent learning.” 
– Michaël, head of the department. 

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 practise the material independently Once the student feels confident enough, they can demonstrate their newly learned skills on video. They evaluate their video and upload it to the GPAL ‘learning environment’. The instructor can watch the videos and give personal feedback.

Even the space in the classroom is used differently now. A classroom is now divided in four areas. 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 practise their tasks while still abiding by the rules of social distancing. 

The Results

From classroom teaching to independent learning in 3 weeks

In just 3 weeks, DGOTC facilitated a change from classroom to independent learning. Traditional forms of education are almost extinct at the DGOTC. For instance, classroom lessons are now only given (at 1.5 metres) if it appears that trainees need this or a new protocol needs to be taught. 

This has also changed the role of the trainer from instructor to learning coach, which has led to positive consequences. 

“The trainers have to get used to their new role as coaches. Their role now focuses much more on giving good feedback. Trainers pay more attention to the trainees and see that trainees’ metacognitive skills are addressed and developed much more. Trainees are now much further advanced within a short time than in the old way of training. We are   seeing a significant increase in learning efficiency.” 

Trainees not only learn more independently and at their own pace, but also get better results with GPAL. The trainer is still present, but can give more individual attention to trainees who need it more. 

An improved training

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. Not only between the teacher and student, but also   students. 

“Even after COVID-19, we want to keep this set-up and structure of independent skills learning through learning tasks and GPAL as much as possible. In doing so, trainees will be given the space to decide for themselves as much as possible what they need to learn.”
– Michaël, 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 to 3 weeks. It was shown that the trainees learn 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. 

Using GPAL even after training

DGOTC wants students to be able to keep using GPAL even after their courses are finished. In this manner, 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 practised 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 practise within a specific situation or context. For example, there are large differences between 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. If a new doctor or medic arrives, they can be trained in the same manner as well!