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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to think about how we can deliver medical education in the era of social distancing.

We have all, even the most technophobe amongst us, been forced to adapt to new ways of working, including the use of web based tools, such as Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom.

At St Emlyn’s we have long been proponents of “blended learning”, “asynchronous learning” and the “flipped classroom”. These lesson plans aim to encompass all of these.

Miller’s Pyramid is an educational theory that takes the learner from knowledge, to demonstration, to practise: from novice to expert. In the five tasks of the lesson plan we hope to take the participant as far up the pyramid as possible.

The Lesson Plan

Each lesson plan starts with a descrete learning outcome, to set the scene, as well as details of the RCEM curriculum item(s) that will be covered.

The first tasks are aimed at aquiring some background knowledge and can either be done as part of the session, or beforehand. These utilise the vast “FOAMed” resources (including, but not exclusively, those of St Emlyn’s). Our experience is that time constraints often mean that “background reading” isn’t achieved before the session, so would encourage allowing time within it to complete these. They are designed to take about 30 minutes and occupy the first half of the session.

Everything you need for each lesson is included in the plan. We would recommend that each learner has a device available (with headphones) to read and listen to the background material at their own pace.

The second half of the session should be facilitated by an expert. This can happen in person, but also online, via any of the interfaces that are now so familiar.

We have given some case examples, but it would be even better if learners can bring cases of their own for discussion. This element is very much within the control of the facilitator (who should been fully cogniscent of the contents of the knowledge section).

The session finishes off with a summary, this should emphasise again the most important learning points. To really embed the knowledge and skills the particiapants should be encouraged to reflect on what they have learned, and to even talk to thse who were unable to attend about what they missed.

There’s more discussion about the Lesson Plans on this podcast

Setting the scene…

A brief scenario to put the session into context for the learner

Learning Objective

A single statement about what will be learned in the session.

RCEM Curriculum

Curriculum Code

The Curriculum Item (click to enlarge)

Task 1 – Read/Listen

Task 2 – Listen/Listen

Task 3 – Discuss

Task 4 – Summary

Task 5 – Reflect

Please let us know what you think of these lesson plans and if you are using them in your Department. We’d love to hear your ideas about how we can take medical education forward.

All best


St Emlyn’s Lesson Plan Lead