Using clickers to engage pharmacy students across multiple campuses

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When you teach at a University with multiple campuses (in our case, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach in Florida and Ponce in Puerto Rico) even with live, interactive videoconferencing – you have to try and figure out ways to connect with your students at different sites. We’ve tried different methods over the years with varying success, but one that worked well early on was the use of  an audience response system (aka clickers). This is something I talked about previously in the presentation, “The Science Behind Engaging Students in Class“.

Our recent article in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education basically describes our multi-campus implementation and measurement of its impact on student engagement, satisfaction, and opinions about projected use of clickers in other courses. We also touched on related issues, such as clickers’ possible role in helping desensitize communication apprehension in students.


Clauson KA, Alkhateeb FM, Singh-Franco D. Concurrent use of an audience response system at a multi-campus college of pharmacy. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. 76(1):6.

Knowledge, Skills, and Resources for Pharmacy Informatics Education

The most recent issue of the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education featured a Technology in Pharmacy Education section.  There is some really interesting reading in this section including, “Use of Twitter to Encourage Interaction in a Multi-campus Pharmacy Management Course” by @Brent_Fox.  Brent actually authored several articles including, “Knowledge, Skills, and Resources for Pharmacy Informatics Education“, which he wrote along with the newly installed Chair of the ASHP Informatics Section Allen Flynn, informatics luminary and frontliner Chris Fortier (@FortiPharm), and I.  With this article, we tried to summarize the baseline informatics knowledge that pharmacy students should possess upon graduation, framed within med use processes.  My hope is that it will be of real practical use to educators and others as specific recommendations are provided regarding activities and resources for class and curricular integration, rather than just observations made from 30,000 feet.  Also, as with all articles in AJPE, this one is open access (OA) in that it can be accessed free, full-text by anyone.


Source: Fox BI, Flynn AJ, Fortier CR, Clauson KA. Knowledge, skills, and resources for pharmacy informatics education. Am J Pharm Educ. 2011;75(5):Article 93.

Consumer Health Informatics Course – TYVM Guest Lecturers

Last semester I taught Consumer Health Informatics and Web 2.0 in Healthcare in the College of Pharmacy (COP) after having coordinated several iterations of it in the MS in Biomedical Informatics Program. At the end of the COP course, I asked the students for their opinions about the most useful and least useful lectures of the semester (with an eye towards improving future offerings). Many of the students mentioned topics that were discussed by one of the six excellent guest lecturers. While I sincerely appreciate each guest lecturer’s contribution, I thought it would be even more meaningful to share a student response about each guest lecturer/topic.

I’ll use the format below to do so (lecturers appear in the order they taught during the semester):

Student quote
Guest Lecturer
“Lecture Topic”

The course’s most useful lecture was Dr. Kang’s since it focused on policy and the big picture instead of just one or two tools.
Jeah-Ah Kang, PharmD
Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications (DDMAC)
“Promotion of FDA-Regulated Medical Products Using the Internet and Social Media Tools”

Most useful was Dr. Gualtieri’s because it may be the only one that really looked at things from the patient’s side.
Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM
Tufts University School of Medicine
“Blogging for Health: Communicating the Experience of Illness”

Most useful lecture was Dr. Dyer’s lecture. It was very cool seeing how healthcare was using this new tech and getting positive results. Very. Cool.
Jennifer Dyer, MD, MPH
Ohio State University, College of Medicine

I would like to see more experts like Dr. Fahrni. His lecture was most useful. It provided insight on what this breed of pharmacist does on a daily basis.
Jerry Fahrni, PharmD
Kaweah Delta District Hospital (now Talyst)
“Pharmacy Informatics – One Pharmacist’s Perspective”

The most useful topic was Dr. Mesko’s on virtual worlds because it was most forward looking. I wish we would use it more and create our own avatars.
Bertalan Mesko, MD
University of Debrecen Medical School
“Medicine in Second Life, the virtual world”

The most useful lecture topic would have to be the final lecture from Dr. Fox, it was extremely informative and I enjoyed it a lot. I’d like to see an additional lecture from him.
Brent Fox, PharmD, PhD
University of Auburn, College of Pharmacy
“The Pharmacist’s Role in Health 2.0”


Social media presence for the course contributors can be found here:

Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM (@lisagualtieri)

Jennifer Dyer, MD, MPH (@EndoGoddess)

Jerry Fahrni, PharmD (@JFahrni)

Bertalan Mesko, MD (@Berci)

Brent Fox, PharmD, PhD (@Brent_Fox)



Fun with Fonts feat. Profs Perry & West

One of the best things about working in academia is interacting with a constantly changing set of students.  We have a particularly diverse group at my University in terms of background, country of origin, language, and maturity.  And while it may be cliche, it is true that in teaching them you can learn just as much from them (if you are open to it).  I have dabbled with aspects of instructional design, cognitive load theory, multimedia learning, etc., and other RxInformatics folks like @poikonen have posted about Beautiful Evidence, but I recently had a rotation student focus my attention on a seemingly simple element: font.  Mr. Salvatico opened my eyes a bit in terms of free resources for fonts and their utility.  While we didn’t see eye-to-eye on the frequency of font variation in lectures, I definitely learned from our exchanges.  In the spirt of these exchanges, I present the following Fun with Fonts ‘case study’.  Please be aware these lyrics do carry a parental advisory warning.


P.S. A good way to see if your students are actually listening in class is to introduce this clip by Katy Perry and KENNY West and see how fast it takes one of them to correct you to KANYE West.

Pimp My Poster

Like many colleges of pharmacy, ours added a seminar component years ago. The seminar has since been expanded to include a paper, a poster, and a podium presentation.  The topics range from literature-driven examinations of therapeutic controversies to original research tied to the faculty mentor’s specialty.  This year I was responsible for the recitation on the poster component.  This slide deck is what I used for that lecture.  Two particularly notable resources for me in assembling this lecture included the piece in The Scientist that inspired the name [1] and the site maintained by the Godfather of Scientific Posters: Dr. Colin Purrington [2].  If you want to dig a little deeper, here are my current favorite articles on the topic as well [3-5].  The full-text of all of these journal articles is currently available online for free.

I’ve benefitted from attending a lot of conferences over time and have seen (and continue to see) posters that are masterful creations, along with others that are absolute rubbish.  I posted the ‘Pimp My Poster’ slide deck here in hopes that it may be a resource to others, but am also keen for feedback to improve it for future iterations. 


[1]  Westly E. Pimp my poster. The Scientist 2008;22(10):22.
[2]  Purrington CB. Advice on designing scientific posters. 2009. Accessed February 2, 2011.
[3]  Erren TC, Bourne PE. Ten simple rules for a good poster presentation. PLoS Comput Biol 2007;3(5):e102.
[4]  Hamilton CW. At a glance: a stepwise approach to successful poster presentations. Chest 2008;134(2):457-9.
[5]  Wood GJ, Morrison RS. Writing abstracts and developing posters for national meetings. J Palliat Med 2011 Jan 17 [Epub ahead of print].

Driving Change with mHealth

Click image to view slides

This should be a really interesting semester since it is first time I will be teaching “Consumer Health Informatics and Web 2.0 in Healthcare” in the College of Medicine – Biomedical Informatics Program and in the College of Pharmacy (COP).  This is the third time I have taught this elective in the Masters of Biomedical Informatics (MSBI) Program, but it is the first for Pharmacy (and obviously the first time concurrently).

The COP elective is more traditional as it primarily meets in a classroom; however, it does have some hybrid aspects in that some of the lectures will be asynchronous Tegrity sessions.  The plan is for the students to view those on their own and then have discussion-driven classes following those.  I am also using an audience response system during the COP course to try and promote student engagement.  It is a course delivered via live, interactive video to two of our sites this semester (i.e. Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach).  One of the most exciting aspects of the COP course is the calibre of the guest lectures who have agreed to participate this semester.  It is a bit experimental as the guest presenters will be contributing lectures via asynchronous recorded lectures, live via videoconference (e.g. Skype) so that we can also have live Q&A, and live in-classroom. 

For the MSBI offering, it is built to accomodate students in a much wider geographic distribution.  Most of the students this semester are in Florida, but there are also students spending much of their time in places as far as Saudi Arabia.  Regardless, South Florida lends itself to a very diverse population and so there is a strong international presence in most programs anyway.  Because of this distribution, the course is basically delivered online through the use of asynchronous sessions and Live Sessions.  This is a really interesting course due, in part, to the heterogenous nature of the students.  Even though the program is housed in the COM, it allows for varying types of students seeking their Masters.  So far I have had students with backgrounds including practicing pharmacists, physicians, nurses, and scientists along with teachers, businesspeople and computer science experts.  It makes for some pretty lively discussions as the range of experience and expertise among the students can be eye-opening!

So that is a pretty long preface to say that I have posted the slides from one of my favorite lectures of the semester – mHealth.  I think there is enormous potential for mHealth.  I am also happy to be involved in a panel on this topic at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting in December of this year.  Please feel free to share any feedback you have about the scope, contents, or emphasis of this slide deck.  Every semester in this course I add and delete lecture topics and then tweak and update the existing ones – so your opinions are all welcome.


How to Fight Lecturalgia

I just had the opportunity to visit Tallahassee for the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Faculty Planning mini conference. I was there to present about the use of an audience response system as a way to increase student engagement along with its other benefits (and hurdles). It ended up being one of the best presentations I have given over the last several months because the attendees (faculty from various colleges at FAMU) were so inquisitive! Sometimes presentations don’t generate questions because they are not interesting or relevant; sometimes it is because there isn’t sufficient time allotted, etc. In this case, there was enough time and I got some great questions. I also conducted the session while using an audience response system, which helped stimulate discussion and questions after the fact.

I have posted the slide deck on Slideshare, which can be accessed by clicking on the title slide or here.


Disclosure: Presentation was part of TurningPoint Technologies Distinguished Educator lecture series.

Teaching a Course on CHI & Web 2.0 in Healthcare

Last year I developed a course titled “Consumer Health Informatics & Web 2.0 in Healthcare”.  It was an excellent learning experience for me and hopefully beneficial for the students as well.  The course was offered last semester in our College of Osteopathic Medicine – Biomedical Informatics Program.  I plan to offer a similar course next semester in our College of Pharmacy tailored for those students and capitalizing on the lessons learned from the previous version.

While my course was a hybrid of consumer health informatics (CHI) and Web 2.0, the very first Web 2.0 and Medicine course was created by Bertalan Mesko, MD.  Dr. Mesko (perhaps better known as @Berci) pioneered it when he was still a medical student.  Berci was quite helpful in the early stages of the conception of my course and even went on to contribute a brief guest lecture on virtual worlds.  Additional resources have since appeared in the literature detailing experiences teaching Web 2.0 in other disciplines.

My course covered basic CHI terminology and subjects like health information seeking behaviors and the evolution of participatory medicine as well as related topics like open access and digital health literacy.  Additionally, it touched on some ‘classic’ informatics tools and technologies like telemedicine, mHealth, and electronic/personal health records.  The course also featured a second guest lecture by Joan Dzenowagis, PhD, who spoke about Internet safety, governance issues, and the dotHealth initiative.

One of the main things I wanted to accomplish with the course was to have the students use the actual Web 2.0 tools and technologies that we discussed in practical ways.  To that end, they completed a series of mini-projects including: editing health-related Wikipedia entries, creating Twitter accounts to follow thought leaders in their subspecialties, and creating RSS reader accounts to help manage their flow of information.

Overall, the course was well-received and I was relatively happy with its maiden voyage.  My plan now is to continue modifying, customizing, and retooling the course based on the needs of pharmacy students and the previous students’ feedback and then submitting to the College of Pharmacy curriculum committee in the coming months.  In the interim, I welcome your comments and questions.