Healthcare compliances training and discussion blog

Archive for August, 2010

The Importance of Ongoing Pharmaceutical training

So that patient safety can be maximised, the drug industry is strictly regulated and controlled. The regulation also ensures that new medicines are suitable for their intended purpose, effective and as cost effective as possible. Regular pharmaceutical training is vital to help professionals within the industry to keep up the regulatory standards and remain compliance with local and international regulations.

Because the industry is so fast paced and constantly changing, pharmaceutical training is the only way to ensure that standards remain consistently high. Undertaken on a regular basis, pharmaceutical training has three main functions. They are: keeping abreast of the latest medications and their potential for curing diseases, maintaining compliance with regulations both nationally and internationally and improving on the existing knowledge and skill set of qualified professionals.

Keeping up to date with new developments in the market is very important due to the constantly evolving nature of the industry. In between leaving full time study and completing the first year of employment, pharmaceutical professionals are likely to encounter many new products. Ongoing pharmaceutical development so that professionals understand the correct use of such drugs is therefore vital to ensure patient safety.

The umbrella term ‘drug development’ is used to describe many processes in creating drugs, from product development to clinical research and clinical trial on humans. During these stages, optimum dosages are calculated and potential side effects are found. This information must feature in the ongoing pharmaceutical training of qualified individuals so that correct prescription of drugs can be ensured.

Of course, there is the potential for the plethora of new drugs entering the market to put an unrealistic strain on qualified persons to have an unimaginably large knowledge base. For this reason it is increasingly common for professionals to take on a specialism in a particular area. Various structured and accredited programmes of pharmaceutical training ensure that professionals develop deep and thorough knowledge in their chosen specialism. Such training helps ensure patient safety.


eLearning in the enterprise vs. eLearning in education

I had an interesting chat with the IT teacher of Catholic High about eLearning. I’m following the subject for a very long time. In the early eighties I bought one of the earliest eLearning authoring tools called OpenICE from Dialog Video (a Swiss company which seems to be history now – the only trace of OpenICE I could google was in a document in the download section of The Morrison Company.

There is a lot of money spent on eLearning both in enterprises and in academic, but the stellar success stories are few and far between. A common fallacy I observed is to spend a lot of money on a LMS or LCMS and have no budget, time and energy left for content. When you hear statements like “Once the LMS is in place we’ll ask our SME [Subject Matter Experts] to contribute content” you know your eLearning project is doomed.

Creating good eLearning material is hard and time consuming work. Brian Chapman published research findings in 2007 that put the ratio for slideware to eLearning conversion at 33:1, the creation of lightly interactive courseware at 220:1 and the creation of full fledged simulations at 750:1. So that tiny water cycle simulation of 10 minutes took more than 3 working weeks full time to be created. The study is currently to be updated and you can participate.

Another fallacy is the failure to integrate eLearning systems into the infrastructure. In corporate learning that means eLearning needs to be accessible from the tools I use in the job (a great widget to have is “related learning”) and get away with enrolment procedures for short term learning (that enrolment is carried over from academic). In academic eLearning the failure lies in the lack of integration into other delivery methods. If enrolments, progress control, time planning etc. are not fully integrated into presence learning it will not fly.

There seems to be very little fruitful cross breeding between corporate and academic eLearning, which isn’t surprising when you look at the core differences:

Enterprise learning Academic learning
The main purpose of employees is to contribute to enterprise goals (mostly: make money). Learning is an expense, not an outcome The main purpose of students is to learn. Knowledge and skill acquisition is the main outcome (not grades in case someone has forgotten)
Learning works well in homeopathic doses: 10min here and there related to a current job need Learning works best with multiple avenues of delivery (watch for a later post on this)
Learning is very skill focused, so the main delivery is training* Learning is wider and education focused*
Learning has no priority, its purpose is to “get the job done” Learning is the top priority, its purpose is to “get the job”
Learning is focused around a career Learning is focused around a curriculum
Learning needs are only partly planned (mostly by the HR department) and a lot of needs arise based on the nature of job roles and projects. Learning goals change more often as careers and market demands change Learning is planned out well in advanced, often by an external body (e.g. the ministry of education) for multiple years
Success is indirectly measured: can the learner implement in the day job what (s)he learned in the training? Did the ability arrive? Success is measured by passing exams. This is a challenge since learning to pass an exam is only loosely related to the acquisition of ability
Collaboration is strictly encouraged. Good working teams adopt “no comrade gets left behind” attitudes. If you collaborate during an exam you are out, so there is a natural tension.

* In case you don’t see the difference between education and training: Most parents should be OK if their teenage kids come back from school and state: “Today we had sex education“, but rightly will go berserk if they would hear: “Today we had sex training in school“. — and yes I know that sexual education is the most controversial topic in education, an epic battleground between enlightenment and denial.


Former Governors Advance Digital Learning Agenda

In an effort to advance the role technology plays in education, former Governors Jeb Bushand Bob Wise launched the Digital Learning Council last week. The new group aims to establish a roadmap to digital learning and promote its adoption.

“Technology has the power to customize education for every student in America,” said Bush, co-chair of the Digital Learning Council. “Providing a customized, personalized education for students was a dream just a decade ago. Technology can turn that dream into reality today.”

To date, more than 50 leaders from education, technology, government, and other fields, have joined the bipartisan council. The combined brainpower of the new group will identify policies to move digital learning from the marginal role it plays today to the forefront of education.

Ultimately, the council will make its final recommendations on digital learning the focus of a nationwide campaign to promote the adoption of those policy principles by states.

Texas Launches iTunes Education Channel

Yesterday’s announcement that Texas’ department of education is launching a free iTunes education channel is another in a recent trend of government initiatives—both state and federal—to organize existing digital education resources.

The free channel, which the Associated Press reports will allow teachers to upload class material and expand upon their research, and students to download podcasts, videos and other multimedia lessons, comes after a nearly year-long effort by the state to gather the best of existing teacher training videos and programs for students. Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, told students at a Houston high school yesterday that the program “will really consolidate” existing content.

iTunes U, primarily a repository for postsecondary digital content, has hosted aK-12 focused channel since 2008, an effort resulting from collaboration between the State Education Technology Directors Association, or SETDA, and several state education agencies.

PBS, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Archives are partners on Texas’ initiative. The Smithsonian is also a partner with the U.S. Department of Education in its work to create a national Online Learning Registry that wasannounced last month. While its format is still unclear, its aim will be similar: to take already-existing digital education material from federal agencies, and organize and centralize it for easy access.

We’re still in an age of technological evolution—see the iPad—and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future. But I’ve noticed an increasing shift from “What can we create with technology?” to “How can we organize what we’ve already created?” during my time on this beat.


What’s the best thing you like about eLearning?

Question by Charice: What’s the best thing you like about eLearning?

Best answer:

Answer by Joss
The fact that I could work independently and on my own time. You still have due dates, but you have a bit more time to do them, at least with my online classes I do. You also get to review and comment on other students work (this also depends).

Though, I have to admit that I really don’t like online classes, but I have taken them before. My graduate degree is an online degree, but I have no choice because my school does not offer any classes for this degree on campus.

Add your own answer in the comments!

College 2.0: Teachers Without Technology Strike Back

By Jeffrey R. Young

Mark James, a visiting lecturer at the University of West Florida, declared his summer course in English literature technology-free—he skipped the PowerPoint slides and YouTube videos he usually shows, and he asked students to silence their cellphones and close their laptops.

Banishing the gear improved the course, he argues. “The students seemed more involved in the discussion than when I allowed them to go online,” he told me as the summer term wound down. “They were more attentive, and we were able to go into a little more depth.”

Mr. James is not antitechnology—he said he had some success in his composition courses using an online system that’s sold with textbooks. But he is frustrated by professors and administrators who believe that injecting the latest technology into the classroom naturally improves teaching. That belief was highlighted in my College 2.0 column last month, in which some professors likened colleagues who don’t teach with tech to doctors who ignore improvements in medicine.

Many low-tech professors were extremely distressed by that charge of educational malpractice. (They told me so in dozens of comments on the article and in e-mail messages.)

After interviewing a few of them this month, it seems to me the key debate between the tech enthusiasts and tech skeptics is really over broader changes in colleges, and anxieties about the academy being turned into just another business.

Teaching is not car assembly, the skeptics say, in that there’s no objective checklist to follow. Nor is it brain surgery, because there is no agreed-upon group of vital signs to check.

“I see teaching as more of an art, and a relationship thing,” said Mr. James. After we talked it out for a while, he settled on the metaphor of a carpenter’s workshop to replace that of a doctor’s clinic: “Let’s say I want to get a really well-made table. I might go to someone who knows the old-style way of making a table, and I’m willing to pay a lot for that,” is how he put it. By extension, tech-based learning feels more like IKEA—a lower-price, build-it-yourself option.

In that way, some professors see emphasizing the benefits of chalk-and-talk methods as defending their craft against pressures to cheapen it.

“This is where we have to ask, What kind of education do we offer?” said Mr. James. “We’re preparing citizens that need to be able to communicate with each other. Knowledge isn’t always something that’s able to come out nicely packaged.”

In Defense of Blue Books

When Barry Leeds explains why he makes his students write papers in blue books instead of on computers, he quickly recalls a favorite professor from graduate school. That was a long time ago—Mr. Leeds is 69, an emeritus professor of English at Central Connecticut State University, and he took that course when he was 22.

His professor made students write short papers and then gave extensive feedback, which forced them to hone their arguments and express themselves more clearly. And he made them write out the papers in longhand, in blue books, during class. “There’s something about the immediacy or exigency of it,” Mr. Leeds said. “When I took those written exams, I found that I made connections that I didn’t know I knew—it shook up my brain cells like a supernova.”

So today Mr. Leeds requires his students to write short, in-class papers. In blue books. By hand. Just like his favorite professor did.

How do today’s students respond? “Once they’re done kvetching about the blue books, they ultimately tell me for the most part that they found that it was a revealing experience,” he told me. In other words, Mr. Leeds manages to get good teaching evaluations with an old-school method. And he feels that the students emerge with the same kinds of dramatic revelations that he experienced nearly 50 years ago.

His teaching has changed and evolved, though. For his favorite Hemingway course, he has dropped some books that didn’t resonate, and he spends more time on ones that students connect with. At first he lectured for most of each class and left five minutes for questions. Gradually, based on students’ response, he turned classroom time into more of a discussion.

“There’s the danger of becoming like the ancient mariner and telling the same tale again and again and again,” he said, adding that he knows of professors who cling to their yellowed lecture notes. “I have to safeguard against getting too hidebound and giving the same presentation each time.”

He’s never felt pressure from administrators to try blogs, wikis, or any other technology, although he said he “resents” what he sees as a lack of recognition of the time teaching takes. “There’s an overemphasis on scholarship and research and only lip-service paid to teaching,” he said.

So even though his classroom is low-tech, he feels that his teaching skills are honed by the trial and error of years at the podium. “It’s just like you wouldn’t want to go to a dentist who just got out of dental school,” he said. “You’d like them to practice on someone else for a few years.”

Wariness of Fads

Jason B. Jones, an associate professor of English at Central Connecticut who helps run theProfHacker blog, on The Chronicle’s Web site (and thus enthusiastic about the promise of technology), said he understood why some longtime professors are wary of the latest gadgets in the classroom. After all, ed-tech fads have come and gone.

“There are still braces on the walls from where they had the last technology that was going to transform education—that was the TV’s,” he said. “Just about every semester I almost crack my head open on one of them.” The television sets once supported by these metal brackets were long ago removed.

Some professors who are receptive to new technology attend the latest workshops and then decide it just doesn’t work for them.

That was the case for Joanne Budzien, a postdoctoral lecturer in physics and engineering at Frostburg State University, who attended a session on using “clickers,” devices that let professors instantly quiz students. The students click small remote controls, and professors can display the results on a screen.

“My classes are very small—I have at most 24 students, and it just seems impersonal to put up a question and use a clicker,” she said. “I can just have a raise of hands, and I can call on them and say why do you think this and why do you think that.”

Still, she remembers professors from her undergraduate days who put little effort into teaching—and she doesn’t want to end up like that. “One would tell a joke that was way, way, way out of date,” she said. Others’ idea of a technological upgrade was taking their old transparencies and using them in the same way as PowerPoint slides.

So who’s right? Fans of both old and new teaching approaches say they that have the students’ interests at heart. Perhaps a better question is why there is a digital divide at all when it comes to teaching.

Some commenters have argued that tech enthusiasts lack research to prove that their methods work. In fact, reams of research have been produced, much of the results showing gains over those old-school methods. Some of the work is cited in a recent government report on the future of teaching, the “National Education Technology Plan 2010.”. Teaching experiments seem to deserve more attention than a flip dismissal.

Yet professors who worry about a move toward assembly-line education should be at the table as well, checking for oversteps. As one commenter on my last column put it: “Problem is, higher education in this country has rapidly taken on many of the qualities of business corporations, with instructors being expected to serve a student clientele in whatever way that is convenient for that clientele. Coming along as a student, I learnt a great deal from some ‘boring’ professors.”

Both old and new approaches will probably have to live together on campus for many years to come. So why not get to know each other a bit better?


6 Ways To Cut Back-to-School College Costs

Heading back to college or going away to school can be an exciting and expensive time in a student’s life. There are people to meet, interesting courses to study, tuition to pay, and textbooks to buy. After the excitement wanes though, it’s not hard to feel discouraged by the big bills that need to be paid. Before spending all of your student loans on back-to-school gear, try these six ways to cut your college costs.

1. Don’t be lazy, keep a student budget. A student budget can be viewed as either a smart way to get savvy about finances, or a cruel introduction to the costs of being an adult. You pick. But from my own experience of living in a student slum with cockroaches and Kraft Dinner, I think it makes good financial sense to become smarter about your money sooner — especially if you’re spending student loan cash.

A student budget is just a financial plan for tracking the flow of money into and out of your life. It helps you identify the costs of your education, plan ahead for any shortfall, and see ways to save more money before you’re in trouble. The hard part with any budget is getting started, so download this comprehensive and free Student Budget Planner to plan your school costs the easy way — before you need to stock up on that orange macaroni stuff.

2. Only pack what you need. Moving onto campus can be expensive, especially if you live out of town or out of state. Before packing every item you own, check with your campus dorm to find out what you really need. This printable Dorm Room Essentials Checklist is a great start for those living on campus, while the First Apartment Essentials Checklist is excellent for those living independently away from school.

If you’re moving far from home, the Moving Checklist and Planner may be the planning tool you need to get back to school in a more cost-efficient way.

3. Don’t shop before classes start. I once made the expensive mistake of buying all my textbooks before the first day of class. Being prepared for school was my aim, but I wasn’t prepared to learn that half of the listed books were optional. Avoid this common, and expensive, mistake by waiting for class to start, and then buying only the textbooks you need.

4. Get smart, buy used textbooks. Opting to buy used textbooks can save you up to 70 percent over buying new, adding hundreds of extra dollars to your wallet. So skip the campus bookstore when buying textbooks and find the place where students swap, sell, and barter their used books for less. Depending on your school, you may find a special used bookstore in town or in a back room on campus where students meet to unload last year’s chemistry books. Going online could also net you some cool savings. Many students now post their used books on Facebook, Craigslist, or eBay hoping to find a buyer. Big online book sellers like Alibris, Thrift Books, or even Amazon may have the used edition you need.

5. Buy school supplies in bulk or online. Notebooks, pens, and printer paper are not cheap, so stock up during the back-to-school sales to get more school supplies for less dollars. Shopping at big-box stores and checking out online retailers can save you at least 10 percent on common school items. Searching for special online coupons can save you additional dollars too — try 8 Stealth Ways to Uncover Big Savings with Secret Online Coupons. 6. Get a haircut, and land a job. When your student budget is feeling pinched or you’re buried in student loan debt, it may be a good idea to find a small part-time job. There are many opportunities available on college campuses that can fit a student’s busy class schedule. Just put some polish on your resume and download these free resume templates to land a job worth some extra bucks each week.

If you’re looking for additional ways to save money on school, open your mind to another way of learning with How to Avoid Student Debt — you may just find a way to study debt-free.

Kerry K. Taylor writes at, a blog where personal finance and frugal living are sexy, delicious, and fun. Kerry is the author of 397 Ways To Save Money: Spend Smarter & Live Well on Less.

Source: usnews

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