When looking to use our HealthCenter21 curriculum in their health science high school courses, health science instructors often ask questions like: “Do you have any tips for using HealthCenter21 successfully?” and “I have limited technology access… can I still use this curriculum?”
To help answer these questions, I’ve compiled some tips to help you make the most of using digital curriculum in your health science classroom.
The main topics I will cover with insight from various AES team members are:
- Why Blended Learning is Important for Health Science High School Courses
- How the 4-Phase Curriculum Helps You Keep Students Engaged
- Tips to Make the Most of Technology in Your Health Science Classroom
Why Blended Learning is Important for Health Science High School Courses
Because many first year health science instructors come from industry, they know how to demonstrate important skills, but struggle with classroom management and student engagement. Even instructors who use interactive digital curriculum can fall into a teaching style that doesn’t best engage students.
During a HOSA conference, Anne Kuser once spoke with a student who used HealthCenter21, but was surprisingly not fond of it. The student shared that sitting at the computer day after day was boring. In this class, students were required to sit at the computer and review the curriculum, with hardly any interaction with the instructor or each other!
If that is how you picture using digital curriculum, take a moment to read what our Product Development Manager, Ken Richard thinks about that:
“If you do the same thing every day, no matter how good of a lecturer you are, how great of a worksheet you have, or how good of a video you have to present, it doesn’t matter because what students need in order to be engaged is variety.
Variety is always important, and even with HealthCenter21 as good as we think it is, if you put students in front of a computer every single day and have them go through lessons, it’s not going to be very effective. Maybe they will enjoy it for a couple of days, but then they will get tired of it because it’s the same thing over and over. What’s really more effective is to mix our curriculum with other materials.”
At Applied Educational Systems, we encourage teachers to use a blended learning style. Even if you are using HealthCenter21, putting your students on the computer day after day is not the best way to teach them.
HealthCenter21 was developed as a blended curriculum, so that is the best way to find success with it! In the next section, you will learn how HealthCenter21 can help you easily teach in a blended learning style.
Keeping Students Engaged using 4-Phase Health Science Curriculum
As a blended learning curriculum, HealthCenter21 includes 4 phases of learning to provide variety and the best possible way for your students to learn. These phases are:
- Learn & Practice
Below I will explain the 4-phase curriculum and share an example from within the learning management system of what it will look like from the instructor’s side. For the images I will use the Medical Terminology module.
Phase 1: Explore
As part of the Explore phase, most units in each module include a PowerPoint presentation you can use. The presentation includes speaker notes and will help you introduce the topics your students will learn about when they go through the interactive lessons.
The Explore phase can also include student resources and activities to help introduce the topics in a different way. For example, in the Medical Terminology module, students can complete a Word Search Puzzle to familiarize themselves with medical terms. You can use that activity as an icebreaker for a class discussion on how to pronounce the terms and ask students what they think the terms mean.
Phase 2: Learn & Practice
This phase is when your students will log in to HealthCenter21 and go through the digital lessons. The interactive lessons keep students engaged by providing narrated content with many different types of multimedia including illustrations and videos. The lessons teach your students important foundational knowledge, and can include demonstrations for different clinical procedures. Along with the interactive lessons, the Learn & Practice phase includes automatically graded quizzes for each topic.
Pro Tip from Ken Richard:
“Students can fill out the worksheets as they go through lessons. The worksheets are like prompted notes to help students extract the most important information.”
Phase 3: Reflect
At this phase, students have the opportunity to relate what they have learned in the earlier phases and apply it to the “real world.” The most common activity used for student reflection is the Current Event Report. This article gives a great example of how you can use the current event activity in your health science high school courses: Ready-Made Health Science Activities on the Zika Virus
Phase 4: Reinforce
The reinforcement phase involves students applying the new skills and knowledge they have learned. We provide the health science instructor with different projects and exercises to help students gain complete understanding of the topics.
Tips for Making the Most of Technology in Your Health Science Classroom
One of the biggest challenges health science instructors face when wanting to use blended learning is a lack of access to technology in the classroom. In working with thousands of health science teachers, we have found a few common scenarios - one of which could work for you!
One-to-One Initiatives & Technology for Every Student
Some health science high school classrooms are lucky enough to have technology readily available for every student. Some schools are implementing one-to-one technology initiatives where each student has a device (Laptop, Chromebook, iPad) that the keep throughout the day. And other classrooms may have computers for every student.
Both of these situations are ideal for a teacher who wants to include digital curriculum in their classroom. The availability of technology reduces the need for the health science instructor to organize and strategize. One way you can make the most of this scenario is by starting with a lecture, and then have students sign on and go through the interactive lessons. Then you can regroup at the end of class for discussion.
Limited Computers in the Classroom
Some health science classrooms have computers, but not enough for every student to use at the same time. This is still a very good setup for any health science course.
A common approach we recommend for this scenario is to break your students into two or more groups. Each group will progress through the online curriculum on shifted schedules. While one group is working individually on computers, the other students are engaged in classroom discussions or hands-on projects and skill practicing.
Computer Lab (Daily Access)
If you have the option to take your health science students to the computer lab on a daily basis, that’s a pretty good setup. In a health science high school course, you don’t need access to the lab every day because your students will be learning hands-on skills some days. You can go along with your lesson plans as usual and take students to the lab as needed.
Computer Lab (Once per Week)
Surprisingly, there are a number of health science teachers using HealthCenter21 that only have access to computers once per week. If you are like these instructors, it’s important to plan out your time in the lab to ensure your students are productive while logged in to HealthCenter21.
If your students have Internet access outside of the school day, you could assign the HealthCenter21 lessons and quizzes as homework. Many instructors find this is a great way to keep the students moving through the curriculum.
Pro Tip from Ken Richard:
“If you are in the lab once per week, it helps to print and photocopy the skills checklists from HealthCenter21 so students can use them in the classroom when computers are not available.”
Tips for Success from Other Health Science CTE Teachers
Incorporating digital curriculum in your health science high school classroom can seem daunting. But hopefully learning how blended learning can save you time relieves some of your frustrations. To learn how other health science instructors just like you are finding success with the HealthCenter21 curriculum, read this article: Blended Learning Best Practices from Health Science Teachers