2021 Major Educator Award winner: Oxford Simulation Teaching and Research (OxSTaR)
Members of the OxSTaR team were awarded a Major Educator Award in light of their outstanding contribution to the development of education alongside their leadership and innovation in education at both the divisional and University level.
Since its inception in 2008, OxSTaR has worked with novel learning technologies to design innovative education methods and has expanded to provide undergraduate training throughout the Medical Sciences Division. OxSTaR’s broader remit includes mentorship and training for researchers who are developing as educators and University staff. During the pandemic, they capitalised on their experience using technology enhanced learning to develop and share educational materials focusing on the safe use of personal protective equipment and the care of COVID-19 patients.
The Director of OxSTaR, Helen Higham, recently talked about the programme’s success and key elements that allow this multi-professional team to receive such excellent feedback from students and consistently win regional and national accolades for their contributions to healthcare.
WHAT HAS CONTRIBUTED MOST TO THE OxSTaR TEAM’S SUCCESS DURING THE PANDEMIC?
During the pandemic, OxSTaR’s extensive experience with learning technologies enabled a rapid transition to electronic platforms, allowing students and healthcare professionals speedy access to resources and information at their convenience. OxSTaR’s success is due to no single individual, but rather their excellent team of clinicians, researchers, and learning technologists that stepped up to the plate and excelled during this time of crisis. Helen commented that a large number of clinicians and researchers volunteered to help create the COVID-19-focused online learning modules and a core team of non-clinicians made sure these resources were ready to support the students and clinicians on the front line.
WHAT SETS OxSTaR APART?
OxSTaR employs immersive simulation training and novel technologies to enrich their users’ learning experience. Helen highlights that their holistic approach to designing and employing novel learning technologies in healthcare professions, both locally and nationally, sets them apart. In general, the team is proud of their ability to carefully select technological tools that complement their teaching methods. Helen mentions the team does not use technologies because they are “interesting or funky,” but rather carefully selects resources that will serve as an adjunct for additional learning methods. If forced to choose a single initiative the team is most proud of, it would be the work they performed during the pandemic – rapidly pivoting education to an entirely online presence and supporting healthcare providers on any electronic device.
TO THE FUTURE
This well-deserved recognition has been an immense morale booster for the OxSTaR team. “This has meant the world to us,” says Helen. Such positive feedback has given them the boost to “push on with the development of the educational programmes and the research that sits alongside it.” The recognition has resulted in an increase in the number of DPhil applicants wishing to work with the team. The OxSTaR team’s ultimate aim is to “save patients lives through better education for healthcare students and professionals.” Through educating students and staff from an enormous variety of backgrounds and making them feel safer and more confident in their work, the OxSTaR programme will continue to make strides in healthcare education for years to come.