1. Gaming – Using technology and gaming as a teaching tool is where innovation in teaching seems to be shifting. One of the important distinctions made was that gaming was different from “simulation,” which is a teaching model already applied to today’s teaching environment. Gaming adds another dimension to learning that can’t be brought into the classroom any other way; in my opinion, it actually is not that novel of a notion even though the use of gaming is quite innovative. Games aren’t just great because they are fun, but they create a sense of investment. There is a community based solely around games, particularly video games, which draws in all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds. This is another reason why gaming is a particularly suited vehicle for interprofessional collaboration and education. I was even lucky enough to be able to contribute in a very small way to the conversation by introducing Reddit, an online forum riddled with strong opinions, and gaming personalities, an umbrella term to describe how players actually play games.
2. Rankings – Being very interested in assessment in education particularly, this was a very interesting topic to me. The US News and World Report rankings of pharmacy schools are an important advertising factor, especially for the top 25 schools. To the consumer, rankings are one of the most important metrics that drive application decisions and career goals, yet there is no metric to measure the applicability or quality of these rankings. Amongst academics, the ratings are not meaningful and do not represent the schools objectively. The US News and World Report ranking are based solely on subjective peer assessment surveys that rate a school’s program from 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding). Objective criteria are not addressed at all. It was particularly interesting to me because I’ve always thought about the value of an “A” and how much grades affect your future opportunities. The prevalence of “A” grades continues to grow every year as the prevalence of “C” grades drop; getting a “C” grade no longer carries its “satisfactory” meaning and is more synonymous to “inadequate.” Soon, grades as a metric for success won’t allow those with academic achievement to shine, but simply marginalize those who don’t perform exceptionally in the classroom. Unfortunately, with all ranking systems, overthrowing the norm is controversial and must be led by someone who has benefited from the flawed system to begin with. If someone who has not benefitted from the system tries to address it, they can appear as if their motive for change is due to their poor ranking.
3. Change of Scenery in the Academic Environment– There was a particular part of the discussion that talked about what AACP does and what it might need to stop doing. It so much easier to create a new program, expand existing ones, and formulate new goals than to let go of one that has or is in the process of being developed. Thinking about the dynamic academic environment, strategic planning is a way for the organization to keep up; while some programs where applicable at the time, they may no longer be applicable in the current climate. At the same time, there was discussion about how those in the academic work force are so specialized that there is such a lack of people who are generalized enough to move into new positions. For example, there was is a lack of interest in those seeking Department Chair positions even though there are positions available. Department Chairs are administrative staff that take a look at the big picture of their department to help achieve the goals of the school. Because of specialization, faculty may not have the skills developed to become a Department Chair or may not be willing to step out of the practice they have worked so many years to specialize in. The workforce environment has changed, and now there is need for support to help those who have specialized to transition into new roles. It’s a striking parallel that I’ve never put together myself.