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Prof. Dee Silverthorn: Why the Lt Brain Trust is invaluable for life science educators

11 Sep 2018

Prof. Dee Silverthorn Ph.D., FAPS
The University of Texas at Austin: Dell Medical School

I’m Dee Silverthorn and I’m at the University of Texas at Austin. I’ve been there for thirty years teaching undergraduate physiology. For the last three years, I’ve been teaching medical physiology at the Dell Medical School - which is the University of Texas at Austin’s brand new medical school.

Last year I went to the Lt Brain Trust event in Boston, and it was a fabulous experience. There were a small number of dedicated Lt users - people who were pushing the envelope about what you could do with digital learning and technology. 
This year, I'm looking forward to meeting and working with a number of new people at the Lt Brain Trust Event which will be in Chicago.


Why is building this type of community important?

One of the ideas that came out of the first Lt Brain Trust event in Boston is that we should all be sharing resources. Educators all have different expertise, so why waste time trying to reinvent the wheel and struggling on your own? We’re all coming up with things independently and figuring out how to use these new technologies to fit our own needs, especially in life science and medical teaching. So if we are willing to share our ideas it saves a lot of time - especially in terms of creating and authoring new lesson and lab content. 

How do you use digital technology in your own department?

I use Lt, which is a digital learning platform, to deliver content for lessons and labs. The big advantage of Lt has really been the ease of authoring.  Also, in Lt we can create content that isn’t lab-specific: it can be used for assigning pre-lab or pre-class work to students and creating modules that are done in the classroom setting and also self-study modules for the students. Lt works with our teaching PowerLabs for data acquisition, so we use it in labs so that students can easily record real-life signals.

The students really like Lt and I've noticed a change in student engagement. I sit over their shoulder watching them and they are particularly fond of the drag-and-drop questions, where they're labeling or ordering things and categorizing them in Lt. It becomes almost a game with them, where they drag an answer over and they get to check their answer and see if they're wrong - and argue over where the wrong answers really should be! So Lt is very good for student engagement.

I think one of the particular strengths of Lt is the ability to create interactive lesson content - and to track it. Lt has a grading function, so you can force students to commit to an answer in a lesson. In a lecture you can ask the students a question but there's no guarantee that most of them are doing anything other than sitting there waiting for someone else to answer. So by involving the students, by making them take part and give answers in the lesson, makes Lt a very powerful teaching tool.


About Professor Dee Silverthorn:

Dee Unglaub Silverthorn is a physiologist whose scholarly activity during the past 20 years has focused on curriculum development and creating curriculum materials that challenge students to apply their understanding to solving problems.

She has been particularly interested in using technology for educational content delivery and assessment, both in the classroom and for independent learning. She was an early adopter of classroom personal response systems (“clickers”) in the 1990s, and she developed an online peer evaluation system for student teams in laboratory classes.

At Dell Medical School, she is co-director of the first-year Structure & Function course, and she is one of the developers of a simulated electronic health record that students use for problem-based learning and for clinical skills teaching in the preclinical medical curriculum.


What is the Lt Brain Trust?

The Lt Brain Trust is a worldwide community of innovative and engaged Lt users, who want to connect with each other and share their ideas about education, teaching, and using Lt.

Every year we hold completely free Lt Brain Trust events around the world, as a way to encourage our Lt community to meet each other, face-to-face, to network and share their experiences of using Lt.

The events include:

  • Learning design workshops
  • Networking opportunities
  • Peer presentations
  • Feedback sessions with our team

The Lt Brain Trust isn’t only focused on Lt. Our wider vision is to build a growing and dynamic community of passionate teachers and innovative educators who interact, share resources, and collaborate on an ongoing basis.

To find out about upcoming free Brain Trust events, visit our Brain Trust Events page. 

Related: A Meeting of Minds: The Lt Brain Trust Meeting at the University of Leeds, UK

 


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