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Game-Based Learning & Clinical Practice – An Interview with Dr. Eric B. Bauman

For the launch of the newly minted AppClinic series of digital apps and games, today we’re interviewing Dr. Eric B. Bauman, lead at AppClinic, to learn about his work on the collection and his view of the intersection of game-based learning with healthcare and veterinary education.

Let’s start with your background – tell us about your passions.

Thats a tough one… from an academic perspective Teaching and Learning and technology that supports it…I consider myself a lifelong learner and love learning about new places and cultures.I’m also a bit of a policy junkie when it comes to healthcare and education… but I’m passionate about it. I have also spent over 25 years in the Fire/EMS Service in a number of capacities… While my role is mostly as an educator now… I was formally an EMS Training Director and EMS Division Chief. I still currently hold the role of EMS Commissioner. From a personal perspective I am a retired/recovering strongman and powerlifter and have studied various form of martial arts. I still train Muay Thai and BJJ. Oh and I’m for sure a foodie and coffee snob!

What’s your perspective/vantage point on game based learning for allied, nursing and medical, and veterinary education?

Games should be seen as part of something I call the Layered Learning Concept. They should scaffold and reinforce the learning process. Games as learning tools when carefully crafted promote deep meaning and are intrinsically motivating.

Games work well for healthcare education, because healthcare by its very nature is a practice and clinicians whether nurses, physicians, or veterinarians are constantly being evaluated through performance. This is consistent with the very nature of game mechanics and how games engage players or learnings.

So in terms of the history of the space, how have we used technology for these purposes in the past?

I cut my teeth in the mannikin-based simulation world in terms of technology and clinical education. But what I realized very early on in my design oriented career was that what makes a good simulation using mannikins is consistent with what makes for a good game… A sense of agency and consequence. Further, the Projective Identity – the negotiation of the role a player is occupying in the game space and who they currently are as a student – is a very powerful educational experience. I have collaborated on or provided SME and Executive Production on over 20 educational games and digital learning experiences.

In the past, what did attendees expect coming into a healthcare / veterinary program?

Traditionally students expect to be lectured at… they expect to be told what to learn. The challenge with this paradigm is that this model was created for program and teacher efficiency, not student mastery of knowledge and clinical application.

What was considered “cutting edge?”

Cutting edge or bleeding edge requires educators be wise in their selection and integration of digital teaching tools like games. Being glitzy is often too expensive and a waste of time. Cutting edge means figuring out how to make core material available and sticky. Leverage tech such that you are democratizing expertise… such that information and expertise is no longer privileged. Cutting edge means that we no longer accept teaching to competence… rather we should use technology to accelerate the path to expertise through mastery learning.

A good friend and colleague of mine who is a retired military officer recently made the comment that “really good but really slow kills a lot of soldiers…” The point being that applications of clinical knowledge appropriately and efficiently is a different type of expertise that moves beyond the traditional teaching and learning paradigm. Games promote mastery learning, and they can be crafted and integrated to be intrinsically motivating. They do not privilege knowledge or expertise and by their nature provide both summative and formative feedback.

What’s considered “current” for healthcare / veterinary education?

Informatics or the leveraging of information to inform clinical practice is now the norm. Leveraging Best Practices based on scientific evidence is part of this process. So having information at your fingertips is now part of the expected clinical teaching and learning process.

What else do students expect from a program now compared with the past?

Students expect a curriculum that leverages technology, innovative technology. This is a challenge for most programs because students often arrive to colleges and universities with a degree of technology sophistication that rivals and exceeds their faculty members.

Those schools and programs that do not successfully leverage current and emerging technology will not attract the best and brightest students. Healthcare is now rife with technology. Consider that electronic medical records are barely 20 years old. Further, walking around with a tablet or using a smartphone as part of clinical practice is really only 10 years old.

But today students in clinical programs and contemporary clinicians can’t imagine a scenario where technology doesn’t support teaching and learning or clinical practice.

In what ways are we still behind the times?

We are still behind in that often times technology is simply being used to disseminate a didactic process. While reading and face-to-face interactions with instructors, mentors and faculty are still important, I am not sure what the value of a 90-minute lecture ported to your iPhone is.

What’s leading the way into the future?

Anywhere, Anytime Learning… learning that acculturates students in the practice professions they hope to join through authentic and situated learning experiences.

We began this process with mannikin and standardized patient-based simulation. But now game-based learning and mobile or digital simulation is getting really good. This allows for mastery learning through situated practice. AI allows for immediate feedback based on best-practices and evidence-based practice.

What does the future hold?

AR and VR have arrived… the haptics are evolving so that immersive digital experiences allow for the suspension of disbelief in meaningful ways. We are bridging the uncanny valley.

What’s holding us back?

Ones and Zeros – Time and Money… but with any tech this is rapidly changing and evolving.

What are you most excited about?

Technology, particularly game-based learning is a thing now. I’m no longer getting shouted down as a heretic when I propose a game-based learning solution.

What’s the utopian vision for healthcare / veterinary game-based learning?

Tough question… I can tell you what it’s not… it’s not World of Nurse-Craft…

The difference between commercial games and learning games is that a commercial game is designed to keep you immersed in the game environment for as long as possible – to provide you with a valued experience – so you relive that experience, make in-game purchases, and buy the next release.

A learning game for clinical education is successful when it makes you smarter and more prepared, more efficiently. So if I create a game for $50-100K and it promotes mastery learning that allows you as the learner to demonstrate expertise more quickly, or better yet, my game makes you a better clinician compared to traditional educational processes, then we all win.

Learn more about the AppClinic collection at www.app-clinic.com!

About Dr. Bauman:


Dr. Eric B. Bauman is an award-winning educational designer with over 25 years of experience that spans clinical, teaching and academic research in the areas of medical and nursing education education, emergency medical services, organizational operations, and academic and organizational leadership. His academic research and scholarship focuses on the use of game-based teaching and learning, virtual environments, simulation, as well as virtual reality and augmented reality for clinical education. To this end he has provided subject matter expertise, executive leadership and production support for over twenty multimedia digital solutions supporting clinical education. In addition to numerous peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Bauman continues to present peer reviewed academic content in the fields of educational technology and innovation related to clinical education.


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