Monthly Archives: April 2016

Need Feedback? Create a Room!

In today’s world, organizations can never receive enough feedback to improve their learning process. One design thinking approach that has sparked creativity in the public sector has been brainstorming. Brainstorming allows group(s) of individuals to come up with as many unorthodox ideas in a short period of time. However, some public organizations lack the technologies to properly incorporate this type of feedback into their meetings. One simple solution is TodaysMeet allows any user to create a public room that where users can collaborate instantly using a simple chat box that is limited to 140-characters. Users simply choose a name for their room, a nickname to attach to their posts, and they can begin posting. There is even an enhanced version that users can subscribe to ($5 monthly fee). The upgraded version allows hosts to save chats, mute unruly users, and delete inappropriate comments. While this technology was initially made for educational purposes, many local governments have started taking a more facilitative approach to governance. Using in the greater public arena can help local leaders move towards this new type of governannce by creating an easy, free public forum that anyone can join in on through their mobile device. More importantly, users can chose to be anonymous and not worry about being judged based on their given feedback. In all, TodaysMeet is a simple tool that can enhance any meeting through feedback, questions, or direct answers.


Using Social Media for the Greater Good

Tweetsgiving (later called Epic Thanks) is a campaign by Epic Change, a nonprofit that invests in projects throughout the world that are designed to create a positive change in the local community, to use Twitter for the greater good. During Tweetsgiving/Epic Thanks, people are encouraged to tweet the things they are thankful for and then donate to Epic Change in honor of their gratitude. Beyond just asking people for money, Epic Change first asked people to engage with them and with each other. In their first year (2008), Epic Change raised over $11,000, which was used to build a classroom at Shepards Junior School in Arusha, Tanzania. To further emphasize the engagement aspect of this campaign, Epic Change painted the Twitter handles of everyone who donated through this campaign on the walls of the classroom. A year later in 2009 when Epic Change helped bring internet access to Shepards Junior, they started Twitterkids of Tanzania, which encourages the students and donors to Epic Change to engage with each other using Twitter. Since Epic Thanks/Tweetsgiving started, Epic Change has raised over $100,000. By using a common and popular platform like Twitter, Epic Change was able to define their community broadly, to include Twitter users all over the country and world, thus maximizing their impact.

Big Data and campaigns


So during my recent campaign for the NC Senate, I discovered this little gym of a software application suite. Unfortunately it is a little pricey (199$/ month for basic version); however when you look at all that it will do, it would pay for itself several times over. It is basically big data with all voter information loaded and cross referenced far better than the Board of Elections has done. Additionally it has fundraising modules, volunteer coordination modules, messaging modules, as well as a website builder tool. Everything in one package. The only thing it would not do is file my campaign finance reports for me. There are several plug in applications that do advertising and canvasing for you using the data from the nation builder database. I unfortunately discovered this at the end of the campaign trail so I only used bits and pieces to solve a few problems. However, next time it will be high on my list to use from the beginning.


NC Virtual Public School

The North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) is an innovative way to bring more course selection to the student of North Carolina and a value to the tax paying citizens. The NCVPS is run by the state of North Carolina and gets funding through the general appropriations process within the state. The e-learning environment allows for students of public schools, private schools, charter schools, or home school to sign up for and take one of over 150 courses. Many times the classes if offered through a school would only have a handful of students at best. This allows the state to pool the student enrolment from all the school districts across the state for these courses. An example of this would be a foreign language class of Arabic. The demand is not strong enough to dictate each district much less each school to have their own Arabic teacher. However; through the virtual school the state is able to offer the course to students. Additionally the students have the flexibility of learning on their own time as well as the responsibility of time management for the learning.

Simulations for Safe Training

Virtual reality wasn’t always . . . a reality. First came simulations. Simulations have come a long ways since their first appearance in the 1960’s. They bring a whole new level of engagement to the medical training field. Allowing teachers to provide better feedback and allowing the students to improve their interaction with patients. I would like to share here how the healthcare industry has taken and used healthcare simulations along with the challenges and advantages to using them. When handling new technologies, this article provides some insights to some of the questions administrators will need to ask themselves prior to implementation.


Have you ever taken a course on CPR? If so, the instructor probably had you try out your new skill on a mannequin. During a CPR class I took, when I pushed down on the dummy to practice compression, I heard a click that indicated when I had pressed hard enough. The direct feedback allowed me to quickly adjust my technique so I could be on my way to saving lives (in theory anyway). Without even realizing it, I had taken part in simulation-based learning.

Healthcare simulation is not a new concept. As early as the 1960s, researchers, teachers, and medical professionals recognized the need for more advanced medical student training. Simulation creates a bridge between classroom learning and experience. Simulations can occur on a desktop monitor or on dummy patients with real-life human reactions; they replicate settings students will encounter, with the goal of improving the “safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of healthcare services,” explains the Society for Simulation in Healthcare.

Advantages of Healthcare Simulations for Learners

Simulation has clear benefits for education, assessment, research, and patient safety. However, there also are an abundance of benefits medical students receive from participating in stimulation learning.

  • Wide Range of Learning Opportunities. Simulations enable medical students to experience both common and rare medical challenges they may face during their years of practice. Students can practice handling high-stake situations in a low-risk environment. The exposure will better prepare learners for the intense healthcare environment.
  • Mistakes Are Okay. Accidentally injecting the wrong medicine into a patient could be a life-threatening situation—but in a simulation, no harm is done. When students see for themselves what does not work, they are able to adjust and try again. This trial-and-errorprocess is a great learning technique.
  • Customized Learning. Having trouble with handling cardiovascular emergencies or tending open wounds? No problem. Learners can practice specific skills sets until they feel confident enough to use them in a clinical setting.
  • Advanced Feedback. Some simulation programs can gather data on students’ performance and give tailored, concrete feedback. As a result, students learn more than whether they did something right or wrong. They are able to see exactly what went well and where improvements can be made. This enhanced real-time feedback allows for incremental learning.

Challenges for Implementing Simulations for Healthcare

When considering incorporating simulation into a learning environment, there are several issues talent development officers need to anticipate.

  • Equipment Needs. You need the right equipment to make simulation training happen, which comes at a cost. While the gear for simulation learning is becoming less expensive as technology advances, you will need to adjust your annual budget to allow for material purchases, repairs, and updates.
  • Teaching- and Learning-Culture Adjustment. While adapting a new technology can put healthcare educators at the forefront of innovative practices, some will not be open to the concept. Instructors need to adjust lessons, assessments, and techniques to accommodate the new equipment. A major mindset shift also will need to occur for students to receive the full range of learning advantages the simulation has to offer.
  • Strategic Planning. Perhaps one of the largest challenges for implementing a new technology is creating a strategic planto ensure success. Administrators will need to do their research to ensure that simulation-based learning methods have a strong return on investment.
  • Lack of Precedent. With simulation learning constantly changing, it’s difficult to find what works best for your learners. With no set of guidelines or best practices, healthcare organizations may find themselves in uncharted territory.

Keys to Simulation Success

Take a cue from Dr. Michael Gordon, a pioneer in simulation use in healthcare: It all starts with curiosity. If you are considering the use of simulations during training, you must first learn all you can. What’s out there? What are people doing? What’s the best way you can integrate this technology into your learning practices? These are just some of the key questions to ask yourself during the initial stages of research.

Don’t forget to reach out to your healthcare community and beyond for advice. Dr. Gordon was able to advance the idea of medical simulation because he collaborated with ITT Technical Institute to make his vision a reality. Many universities and medical schools have already begun to incorporate simulations into their programs. A quick Google search will provide a number of examples.

Resources for Learning More

Simulation learning is a growing player in the healthcare talent development industry. Keep an eye out for advancements in the practice to ensure your students receive optimal training. For additional reading, check out these articles:


Being Present is No Longer a Condition for Engagement

Launched in 2007, Livestream hopes “to democratize live video broadcasting and provide the tools to bring every event live online.” Livestream’s video platform broadcasts over 6 million live events worldwide per year. The platform is used by all types of individuals, government agencies, and corporations to broadcast small personal events, to large conferences, to local campaign events.

Since its launch, government agencies have found the tool to be an increasingly valuable method to connect with its citizens and keep them informed of issues as they happen. Livestream has been used to connect with citizens while events such as press conferences, town hall meetings, or public hearings are occurring in real-time. Instead of appearing in person or having to wait for the local news report, citizens can watch events as they happen on any device, including desktops, tablets, mobile devices.

Deciding Between Free Survey Hosting and Paying for a Service

Plenty of useful survey tools are available for free or low cost online, and many organizations use these tools, both internally, and externally with stakeholders. Sites like SurveyMonkey, Typeform, and Google Forms provide basic data compilation and basic question formats without the burden of budgeting for a survey tool. (For more information about free survey tools:

However, communicating externally sometimes requires the polish and analytics these free sites can’t provide. In this Information Week article, UCLA School of Management  Associate Professor of Management and Organizations, Corinne Bendersky, discusses when it’s time for an organization to use a pay-for-service survey tool. In particular, Bendersky discusses Qualtrics, a tool commonly used in university research, and familiar to many recent graduates.