#CAEP15 Special Edition | Digital Scholarship Elective – An Educational Innovation by the BoringEM team

In Knowledge Translation by Alia DharamsiLeave a Comment

Editor’s note:  This past week, whilst was down, there was the ever eventful and fun #CAEP15 conference, which was held in beautiful Edmonton, AB. If you missed out, check out feeds by our editorial team (@TChanMD, @SLuckettG, @Brent_Thoma, @purdy_eve) for cool stuff that we saw.  That said, one of the undisputed highlights of the conference was seeing one of our writers (Dr. Alia, Dharamsi, @alia_dh) present her novel Digital Scholars program during the #FOAMed track.  Below are details about her elective that she has written up to accompany her talk. Sorry for the delay in posting. -TC


These days it is impossible to discuss EM education without mentioning technology. As ED learners we use apps, watch NEJM videos, scan through online articles, and listen to podcasts—often from our smartphones. When it comes to consuming online educational content, the sky is the limit. Digital scholarship investigates how technology is used to teach and learn and is a necessary development in an increasingly technological world. If technology is the present and future of #meded, then, as the future generation of ED educators, residents should be equipped to effectively produce and use online content. To explore the idea of Digital Scholarship in the context of #FOAMed, #meded and #SoMe, a one-month digital scholarship elective was created as a joint partnership between McMaster University and The University of Toronto, with the mentorship of Drs Andrew Petrosoniak (@petrosoniak) and Teresa Chan (@TChanMD).  This rotation helped me to hone my skills as a budding Digital Scholar.

The Details


  • We developed a one-month scholarly rotation was created to develop skills and understanding of technology-based education.
  • To develop an approach to the educational development of digital material, an online, social media-enhanced curriculum to guide antibiotic choices in the ED was designed to be hosted on


  • To develop a personal approach to Diabetic Foot Infections (DFI) and Skin and Soft Tissue Infections (SSTI)
  • To apply traditional models of curriculum (Kern’s Model) to online medical education
  • To understand digital scholarship in the context of asynchronous education
  • To produce relevant online learning materials for DFI and SSTI
  • To identify tips and guidelines to guide the production of effective online content

Deliverables : “Alia’s Antibiotic Series” on

  • Diabetic Foot Infection Pocket Cards
  • Diabetic Foot Infection Cases
  • Skin and Soft Tissue Infection Pocket Cards
  • Approach to Antibiotics Chalk Talk


  • An end-of-block report that facilitated self-reflection and helped me audit my own accomplishment of objectives set at the beginning of the elective
  • Weekly reflective writing pieces on pre-identified areas of learning and discussion
  • Deliverables to be posted on


One of the things that I learned during my elective is that a key factor in creating effective online learning materials is to target a specific audience. The objective of online educational learning tools is not to be everything for every learner, but instead to target a specific group of learners, and then design your materials for them specifically. I discovered that, on average, people scan online websites (F-scan) and do not exhaustively read whole pages of materials. Given the short amount of time people spend reading online resources, being specific about learning outcomes and keeping resources short will increase their relevance for the learner. Moving forward, the development of guidelines outlining how to create effective, targeted, user-friendly learning materials for online learning would be a very helpful output of this endeavor.


Future Growth
Electives such as this one provide interested learners an opportunity to engage in online learning and teaching at an early stage of their career. Expanding the current definition of “curriculum” to include online, digitally-based educational materials takes medical education into undiscovered territory. The connected and continuous nature of online learning may challenge current paradigms of curriculum design and require new approaches. Ultimately, it is becoming imperative for residency programs to not only train excellent classroom and bedside educators, but also to support those wishing to engage in online teaching and learning.

For more details contact Drs. Petrosoniak and Chan by email [email protected].  They will be happy to answer questions from the faculty side of things!

Alia Dharamsi

Alia Dharamsi is an Emergency Physician at the UHN and St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Her interests include simulation, prehospital medicine, and educational innovation. In her spare time you can find her on her bike, in the lake, or on a mountain!