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Will Your Next Doctor Be Trained Online?

Ryan Carroll (ApprenNet, USA)
Rodney Murray (University of the Sciences, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 12:45pm
Technology and Emerging Learning Environments
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Asia 2
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 2

Learn how something as hands-on and complex as medical science can be taught remotely.

Extended Abstract


In 2012, Rodney Murray, Executive Director of Academic Technology at the University of the Sciences, discovered ApprenNet, a video-based platform used to teach practical skills. ApprenNet provides instructors tools to build three stage-learning exercises. Each stage helps students attain and retain skills. Recognizing a need for a scalable and affordable hands-on solution to train the next generation of healthcare providers, Dr. Murray became an early adopter of ApprenNet. The following outlines what ApprenNet is, how it works, the theoretical underpinnings of its pedagogical design, how the University of the Sciences is using ApprenNet to train the next generation of healthcare providers, and some preliminary efficacy results.


ApprenNet is a video-based platform where skills are practiced and assessed within a community of peers and experts. Instructors build three stage-learning exercises that offer an opportunity for Learners to develop skills through role-play, peer interactivity, and coaching.



Here, Learners watch a short, real-world video scenario. Learners then record a video role-playing a response to the scenario. Learners can use their webcam to record or ApprenNet's mobile app. Submitting a response unlocks stage two.


Learners watch a pre-set number of randomly selected Learner submissions and evaluate each submission with an Instructor-generated rubric. This unlocks stage three.


Learners watch a model answer to the original prompt in stage one and read feedback to their submission as well as general feedback from the Instructor to the group.



Anders Ericsson, Swedish psychologist and professor at FSU, coined the term "deliberate practice" to define the process of achieving expertise. After researching experts in many domains, Ericsson identified key components of deliberate practice: 1) identifying skills to be developed based on specific needs; 2) performing repetitive tasks designed to improve weaknesses; 3) practicing outside of your comfort zone; and 4) receiving immediate and specific feedback and adapting as necessary. According to Ericsson, expertise is not innate ability; it is acquired through deliberate practice.

ApprenNet allows Learners to repetitively perform skills until they are ready to upload a response to the initial video prompt. Knowing that peers will review the videos removes Learners from their comfort zone and provides motivation to submit a well-practiced video.


John Dewey, an educational philosopher, criticized the traditional education system for not preparing students for the demands of the economy. Dewey advocated critical thinking, which he defined as a reflective approach that promoted skepticism, questioning, and reflection. Carol Rodgers condensed Dewey's criteria for reflection into several distinct ideas: 1) reflection is a meaning-making process that moves a learner from one experience into the next with deeper understanding of its relationships with and connections to other experiences and ideas; 2) reflection is a systematic, rigorous, disciplined way of thinking with roots in scientific inquiry; 3) reflection needs to happen in community, in interaction with others; and 4) reflection requires attitudes that value personal and intellectual growth of oneself and of others.

ApprenNet's Peer Review stage fosters reflection in community by providing Learners with a forum to observe others and give and get feedback.


Albert Bandura, a Professor of Social Science in Psychology at Stanford University, developed the social learning and social cognitive theories. Bandura argued that people learn by observing the rewards and punishments of others' actions. To be most effective, Bandura argued that modeling should: 1) capture the learner's attention through engaging and relevant content (attention); 2) contain steps that are easily remembered and replicable by the learner (retention and production); and 3) demonstrate why the learner would want to replicate the actions (motivation).

ApprenNet's model video answer is designed to help students mimic mastery. We encourage Experts to record responses with easily remembered, replicable steps to help the Learner retain and reproduce skills. Learners become motivated to master a skill by juxtaposing their response with the model answer.

A key component of Ericsson's deliberate practice theory is to receive immediate and specific feedback and adapt as necessary. Ericsson argues that, "to ensure effective learning, subjects ideally should be given explicit instructions about the best method and be supervised by a teacher to allow individualized diagnosis of errors, informative feedback, and remedial part training."

ApprenNet's Expert feedback stage allows Instructors to provide a "diagnosis of errors, informative feedback, and remedial part training."


The University of the Sciences believes that simulation is a powerful tool for preparing students for the real world of healthcare. The program prides itself on experiential learning. However, with more than 2,000 students, instructors struggle to give students adequate time to practice real world skills. In 2012, Dr. Rodney Murray, Executive Director of Academic Technology, discovered a potential solution - ApprenNet. In ApprenNet, Dr. Murray saw a means to provide all students frequent opportunity to practice skills without overcrowding in the simulation lab or overburdening the professor with hours upon hours of grading. For the last two years, University of the Sciences has used ApprenNet to increase practical skills training in its PT and OT programs.

As is the case with early adopters, they discover new ways to leverage the platform that the founders did not consider. Dr. Murray is going to demonstrate a series of use cases to demonstrate the multiple ways instructors can use ApprenNet to teach something as hands-on and complex as medical science online.


In addition to sharing use cases, ApprenNet co-founder, Emily Foote, will share results from two healthcare studies that demonstrate ApprenNet's efficacy in teaching something as hands-on and complex as medical science in an online world.


Bandura, Albert. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review.

Ericsson, K, Krampe, R., and Tesch-Romer, C. (1993). The Making of an Expert.
Psychological Review.

Grusec, Joan. (1992). Social Learning Theory and Developmental Psychology: The Legacies of Robert Sears and Albert Bandura. Developmental Psychology.

Rodgers, Carol. (2002). Defining Reflection: Another Look at John Dewey and Reflective Thinking. Teachers College Record.

Lead Presenter

Ryan Carroll: Ryan has over 10 years’ experience in the ed-tech industry, specializing in SaaS-model enterprise-wide software solutions. Previously, Ryan managed teams at Hobsons, a market leader delivering CRM and Retention solutions to support education professionals around the world. Ryan received an MBA at the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College.

Dr. Rodney Murray: Dr. Rodney Murray, executive director of academic technology at the University of the Sciences, is charged with advancing all aspects of educational technology on campus. His goal is to provide the teaching and learning platforms and services that will move USciences forward in classroom learning, hybrid and distance education.

He earned his Ph.D. in pharmacology from Temple University School of Medicine, and has published in the area of neuropharmacology and written statistical and data analysis software widely used in pharmacology and pharmaceutical research labs worldwide. Prior to joining USciences, Rod founded the Office of Academic Computing and taught pharmacokinetics at Thomas Jefferson University, where he helped bring about advancements in the areas of instructional technology, e-learning application development, and Jefferson'™s Internet presence. At USciences, he promotes the latest e-learning technologies, including web apps, social media, blogs, wiki's, e-portfolios and podcasts. He has become a recognized expert in this area, producing his own podcast on educational technology since 2006 (now available at http://www.insidehighered.com/thepulse).