ANGEL Learning: Enhancing Quality Instruction at Medical School

By Darrin Cheney
University of Kansas Medical Center

The University of Kansas Medical Center (UKMC) is an integral and unique component of the University of Kansas governed by the Kansas Board of Regents. Located in Kansas City, KS, KUMC includes the School of Nursing, the School of Allied Health, and the School of Medicine. In addition, the School of Medicine operates a branch campus in Wichita.

KUMC currently uses Blackboard as its primary Learning Management System. In the Spring of 2005, an advisory committee was convened to identify additional learning management system capabilities needed to support current and forthcoming online learning initiatives. The School of Medicine requested a comprehensive online system to facilitate the redesign and delivery of an integrated basic science curriculum. The School of Nursing sought a system to support the design and delivery of a new online Doctorate of Nursing Program. All faculty required a simple, but comprehensive system through which to deliver their unique program offerings, and various existing undergraduate and graduate level online and on-ground courses.

The selection criteria identified were diverse. Faculty expected the new system to have the capability to create, store and search shared content in repositories or "content libraries," and to link to this content from within course modules. Faculty also envisioned an ePortfoilio system that would encourage students to post artifacts based on learning objectives and reflect on their learning experiences. In addition, faculty asked for a shared white board where students could collaborate and create concept maps in both live lectures and in small group activities. Module and curriculum coordinators requested a collaborative community system to share information with an entire medical school class, thereby eliminating paper placed in student mailboxes. All three schools requested a secure, but simple tool to provide online testing. Finally, Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) required a system that could provide a simple but effective way to migrate existing Blackboard content to the new LMS.

After a careful review of various options, the committee selected ANGEL Learning's ANGEL Learning Management Suite, determining that it could meet all identified requirements and provide additional tools and capabilities for less cost than competing systems. Independent of cost, faculty felt that ANGEL's design focused on student learning and would meet the diverse needs of students at the Medical Center.

KUMC will switch online learning systems in time for the Summer 2006 term. During the Spring 2006 term, TLT will convert over 350 Blackboard courses, train faculty and assist them in designing new courses. At the same time, KUMC will "pilot" 10 courses using ANGEL and support two research collaborations and several design/collaboration projects. KUMC will use ANGEL to support a variety of learning experiences, several of which are described below.

School of Medicine Integrated Curriculum Re-Design and Delivery
As part of the School of Medicine basic science integrated curriculum redesign, a collaboration space is needed to facilitate the re-design process. This space must provide a place to share documents with curriculum directors, to discuss curriculum changes, to share calendar events, and to keep track of timelines and project deadlines. The medical faculty is using an ANGEL Community Group area to support these activities. Faculty discuss the curriculum content in sub-groups and then roll it up into the larger group for peer review.

Approved curriculum will be moved to a content repository using templates designed to support specific teaching and learning activities. This repository also will store a copy of lecture materials and online learning activities that can be shared across several course modules.

The final step in the curriculum re-design process involves creating integrated modules using a predefined course template. First, a course shell is constructed using this template. Then, content from the repository is linked to the modules. This two-step process allows the content to be maintained by one subject matter expert but used in multiple courses, reinforcing learning concepts. The course calendar then drives the delivery of the content. When students log into a module, they see a daily view of the calendar with links to course content being discussed that day.

Doctorate in Nursing Program Design and Delivery
ANGEL will support the design and delivery of our new Doctorate of Nursing program as well. Curriculum designers from TLT are working with faculty to identify key features common to all courses. Templates for each of these teaching and learning activities are created and stored in a shared repository. As the curriculum is created, these templates provide each course with a consistent structure. This structure will be shared with students during orientation to reduce the time they need to become familiar with course expectations and the learning environment.

Another key component to the program is an electronic portfolio. ANGEL ePortfolio was purchased to support an environment where students can post artifacts and reflect on their learning experiences. Nursing students will post articles that they submit for publication, their research findings, and their professional presentations in their ePortfolio. In addition students will maintain a blog to document their learning experiences throughout the program. Each of these artifacts and reflections will be based upon program goals and objectives. Program mentors will have access to student ePortfolios, and students can share their artifacts with others as needed.

Online Testing
In the Spring 2005 term, KUMC created a 100 seat "high stakes" testing center. Faculty assess students in the controlled testing environment in a manner similar to national licensure exams. KUMC is exploring using ANGEL's secure browser to deliver online exams in the testing center. Once the secure browser is loaded, a proctor enters a password that "locks down" the computer. At that point, students can only see a link to their secured exam. The browser will not allow the students to switch programs or access any other program on the computer. Hitting the print button results in a blank page. Once the student completes the exam, the proctor must enter a password to "release" the computer.
Share, Collaborate, & Communicate with Student Groups
KUMC will use ANGEL to provide communication and collaboration outside of regular courses. We will provide a community group for each of our medical school classes. TLT will train administrative assistants and program coordinators to post and link content in this space instead of using a mailbox to hand out flyers and announcements. This content can be Word documents, PDF documents, PowerPoint presentations, as well as other media types. The space also will house a shared calendar, a place to post announcements and questionnaires, and a forum to discuss issues related to their year in medical school.
KUMC selected ANGEL for the diversity of solutions it provides for course delivery and support, collaboration, and curriculum sharing. We have found the company to be learner-centered and willing to listen to customer suggestions to improve the product. Their technical support has been very responsive. We also have found a wonderful grassroots support system and formed rich collaborations with other ANGEL institutions. Our faculty and staff are excited about ANGEL Learning and how it will enhance quality learning at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Darrin Cheney ( is the Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS.

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