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Inter-professional team-based learning (IPTBL) is an innovative teaching approach which aims at promoting peer-to-peer learning and collaborations across disciplines. In 2016, the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine piloted IPTBL with nearly 600 medical, health and social care students from HKU and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. This year, the organizing team scaled it up to serve more than 1,000 students from the following programmes: Chinese medicine, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work from HKU; and medical laboratory science, nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, radiography, and social work from PolyU.

The details of implementation are as follows:

Topic of Instructional Unit Date No. of participants
Anticoagulation Therapy January 21, 2017 247
Depression February 11, 2017 310
Fracture February 18, 2017 437
Multiple drugs February 25, 2017 347
Developmental delay March 18, 2017 192
Cancer March 25, 2017 501

What’s new this year?

(1) Venue: To facilitate group discussion and communication between teachers and students, IPTBL was conducted this year in Lecture Hall II at the Centennial Campus, a flat area with mobile chairs and strong WiFi connectivity.

Before: IPTBL was conducted in a lecture theatre setting in the 2016 pilot round. Students in groups tended to face the stage most of the time.

After: Groups were arranged in circles this year. This picture features 71 small groups of five to seven students seated in the spacious Lecture Hall II. The IPTBL team would like to thank colleagues from the Examinations Office, Estates Office and Learning Environment Services of ITS who made all the six sessions possible.

(2) Team progress chart: How to pace the 4-hour face-to-face IPTBL session is a big challenge. While the moderators and content experts had to be very conscious of the time, students also played an important role in moving the session forward. The newly added team progress chart displayed on one of the four screens in front of the hall, indicating whether a particular group had finished the assigned task – just like what a leaderboard does in online games. This provided motivation to students to complete their work in a timely manner, and also gave teachers some idea on which groups to interview in the interactive feedback session.

(3) Peer evaluation: Team-based learning creates many opportunities for students to learn with, from and about each other through intensive interaction and collaboration. During each session, they got to know each other’s expertise and communication style. Peer evaluation is a mechanism for them to provide honest feedback to their peer teammates in terms of four competencies: values/ ethics, roles/ responsibilities, communication, and teamwork. At the end of each session of this year’s IPTBL, students would fill in their peer evaluation scores in an online form. They would then be directed to another page which showed them, in real-time, the average scores that he/she received from other teammates.

Dr. LK Chan explained to students how to fill out the online peer evaluation form. By the way, did you notice the balloons in the picture? They indicate the group numbers so that teachers/ facilitators could quickly locate where the teams are.

Exemplary facilitation skills
Team-based learning incorporates many elements of constructivist learning (Hrynchak & Batty, 2012). The teachers (content experts) spent much time to come up with carefully-crafted application exercises which can reveal common misconceptions and debatable topics from which students build new understandings. During the interactive feedback session, many teachers showed excellent skills in facilitating the discussion of a large group of students, such as:

  • not picking the team leader to present the team’s views;
  • asking open-ended questions with a focus on understanding the students’ rationale in picking a particular answer;
  • encouraging students to articulate their thoughts;
  • addressing uncertainties or disagreements;
  • providing a closure after each discussion; and
  • paying attention to teams or students who are not taking part (e.g., by inviting a range of teams to give their opinions).

IPTBL is the Bronze Winner for Discipline Award (Life Sciences) in the prestigious QS Stars-Wharton Reimagine Education Awards 2016. The team celebrated the success after a briefing session in January 2017.

Way forward
The IPTBL team is now reviewing the feedback from students and teachers. They are thinking about improving the implementation in the following ways:

  • shortening the readiness tests in order to leave more time for discussion on the clinical scenario;
  • re-voicing students’ opinions when they contribute something that appears to be complex or not too well understood to students from other disciplines.
  • Adding new functions to the online platform for running IPTBL to provide more informative feedback to both the facilitators and students.

For those of you would like to learn more about IPTBL or contribute to it, please contact Dr. Fraide A. Ganotice, Jr., Program Coordinator at Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, via ganotc75@hku.hk. If you want to get to know the technical aspects of running large classes, you may reach out to the Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative (TELI) via enquiry@teli.hku.hk.

Look forward to IPTBL 2018!

Hrynchak, P. & Batty, H. (2012) The educational theory basis of team-based learning. Medical Teacher 34, 796-801.

Further reading

  1. Breaking through the Silos with Technology and Team-Based Learning
  2. Big Success at International Award to Reimagine Education
  3. Learning to Work in Teams: Interprofessional Learning for Health Students

Reimagine Education-01

Two HKU collaborative projects are being recognized at the prestigious QS Stars-Wharton Reimagine Education Awards. The inter-institutional team, “Interprofessional Team-based Learning (IPTBL) for Health Professional Students”, led by Dr. Lap Ki Chan (Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine) is the Bronze Winner for Discipline Award (Life Sciences). The international team, “Problem-based learning and Educational Technologies in Clinical Education – An Interactional Ethnography”, led by Dr. Susan Bridges (Faculty of Education/ Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning) won the Bronze Regional Award (Asia).

Reimagine Education-01
From Left to Right:
Dr Fraide A. Ganotice, Jr., Mr. Nunzio Quacquarelli (CEO and founder of Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd.), Dr. Susan Bridges, Prof. Judith Green

Shortlisted candidates from around the world gathered in Philadelphia on Dec 5-6, 2016 to showcase their projects in this “Oscars” gathering for innovative higher education pedagogies. From over 500 projects, the panel of judges selected all submissions from HKU to be among the 120 that are shortlisted for the final contest.

Reimagine Education-01
Prof. Ricky Kwok and Dr Fraide A. Ganotice presenting at the Reimagine Education Awards

Reimagine Education-01
Dr. Susan Bridges presenting at the Reimagine Education Awards

Both projects have the vision in realizing how technology should be infused in teaching across multiple scales, including: student numbers, time (e.g., learning cycles) and disciplines. The improvements in outcomes are supported by quantitative and qualitative research data. TELI is proud to have been particularly involved in the IPTBL project on various fronts, including the development of the Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) electronic platform, the implementation and connectivity that are all crucial in the development of the IPTBL.

Further reading:

  1. (大公報 Tai Kung Pao) 港大兩個項目獲國際創意教育獎項
  2. (文匯報 Wen Wei Po) 港大奪全球教學創新兩銅

IPTBL is a pioneering effort in conducting interprofessional education (IPE) using team-based learning (TBL).

jimsil-2“In running this type of events, technology is tremendously important,” said Dr. Chan in the seminar.

We all need to learn to collaborate, and through collaboration, we learn more. With technology, it is now easier to create new collaborative grounds for students. Having a firm belief that “collaborative work will lead to better patient outcome,” Dr. Lap Ki Chan (Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine) initiated Interprofessional Team-Based Learning (IPTBL), a technology-facilitated project, with a team of pioneers, including Dr. Charlene C. Ho, School of Biomedical Sciences; Dr. Fraide A. Ganotice, Jr., Bau Institute of Medical and Health Sciences Education; Dr. Veronica Lam, School of Nursing; Dr. Ming Fai Law, Department of Social Work and Social Administration; and Dr. Gordon Wong, Department of Anaesthesiology. The team shared their experience in a seminar on 6 June 2016.

IPTBL – How does it work?

jimsil-2“The future is bright I think. TBL is the way to go in healthcare,” said Dr. Gordon Wong in the seminar.

Collaborative learning is nothing new in education. But what makes IPTBL special is that it is a pioneering effort to promote interprofessional education (IPE) across healthcare disciplines using team-based learning (TBL) and ed-tech. Students from multidisciplinary silos teamed up to tackle clinical cases, debate on questions and appeal to facilitators regarding the answers. So far, the project has successfully broken down the silos of 7 different programmes and engaged 600 students from HKU and PolyU.

The use of ed-tech
It would be impossible to engage such a large number of learners simultaneously without the help of technology. To enable effective class management, an e-platform called the Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) was utilized. It allowed teachers to track the progress of all students through the different stages of TBL.

Technology makes collaboration easier in the classroom. Contact us if you want to create new collaborative opportunities for your students.

More photos of the seminar can be found on our Facebook and Twitter.

Further reading:
Larry Michaelson, L. (2009). The Essential Elements of Team-Based Learning. Adapted from Chapter 1 of Michaelsen, L., Sweet, M. & Parmalee, D. (2009). Team-Based Learning: Small Group Learning’s Next Big Step. New Directions in Teaching and Learning, 7-27.
Download here

Event video

Effective communication and collaboration is one of HKU’s educational aims. In our healthcare-related curricula, we strive to offer students a range of opportunities to work together and build a professional network on campus. One recent attempt was a UGC-funded programme entitled “Interprofessional Team-based Learning (IPTBL) for Health Professional Students,” launched in January 2016.

The main purpose of IPTBL is to facilitate deeper learning experiences and interactions of health professional students in their roles and responsibilities; and to enable them to actively learn in small groups. During the session, teams of students from Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Chinese Medicine and Biomedical Sciences from HKU and PolyU completed tests based on suggested readings, first individually and then as a cross-disciplinary team. Team members then worked together on case-based application exercises. The way teams were arranged reflected the realities of the healthcare sector, where professionals from a variety of disciplines work together to improve the well-being of patients.

“It’s a great way for healthcare professionals to meet when they are studying, and then build relationships, friendships, so that when they go to the HA [Hospital Authority] or the community, they are familiar with each other, and they know how each other works [and] thinks,” said Dr. Alan Worsley, who served on the teacher panel as a Pharmacy content expert.  

In fact, teachers also mirrored the process their learners went through in the face-to-face sessions when they collaboratively examined clinical cases and addressed questions from students.

Collaborative learning in the IPTBL programme is further enhanced by the use of the Learning Activity Management System (LAMS), which provided instant statistics that help facilitators check the progress of individuals and teams. The system also came with an online discussion forum designated for interactions after the face-to-face sessions. According to the Principal Investigator of this project, Dr Lap Ki Chan (Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine), “in each of the sessions of this team-based programme we’re talking about 500 to 600 students. Without the use of technology it is difficult to manage such a large number of students.” TELI collaborated with the IPTBL team to ensure that the LAMS functioned smoothly and that the face-to-face sessions were conducted effectively.

More than 500 students across 7 programmes from 2 universities participated in the first two IPTBL days on January 16 and February 20, 2016. The programme is growing continuously and is expected to serve over 1000 students in total from 12 programmes by 2017. This would be the first large-scale interprofessional education programme in Hong Kong.

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