Online Learning: What Have we Learned?
The COVID lockdown has had many repercussions. Not the least has been online learning. It is a far cry from in-person, hands on instruction. In fact, many parents discovered that remote learning is terribly ineffective. Young students sitting with a tablet, watching someone talk without interacting with them caused a huge number of children to fall behind, and school systems are struggling to catch them up.
As developmental optometrists realized long ago, learning without movement produces very poor outcomes. Yet, today, every discipline, hobby and pastime has podcasts, streaming video and a YouTube channel. I have been a woodworker for many years, and if you look, you’ll find tens of thousands of videos on techniques, tools and projects. I am an active participant on a woodworking forum, and I’ve noticed that as more videos are posted, fewer participants are actually making things. As I look to optometry’s best specialty, vision therapy, I am concerned that video courses might displace many live courses. For me, that is the triumph of efficiency over effectiveness. If I were in practice, I might be tempted to use these videos for training, but I don’t think most brand-new vision therapists are any better at learning from videos than newbie woodworkers at making things.
How can you make training videos work for you? I think the old truism, “monkey see, monkey do,” applies. Yes, watch the videos together. Then freeze after an activity or clinical point is made and DO something. Talk about the clinical point and how you go about probing and testing, as well as what it means for the patient, and for the therapist. If it’s an activity, get out the apparatus and do the activity together. If there are two therapists in training, they should do the activity with the doctor, then with each other. Praise them when they do it right, correct gently and without criticism. An hour of video training might require spending 2 to 3 hours to go through in this manner. Yet, by the end, the therapists will have a good grasp of the concept and/or activity. Repetition builds confidence and competence. “Gee,” the reader thinks, that’s going to take a lot of time.” The doctor who thinks that and cuts training time short, may find on visiting the therapy room that the therapist is doing the activity the wrong way and is imbedding the problem. Our live Ideal Vision Institute Quick Start Course has O.D.s and therapists actually doing the activities because its purpose is to get a doctor and staff able to handle basic visual skills cases. It's hands on because the purpose is to give competence and confidence to them so they actually start providing therapy. The course reflects the techniques and even language used in the instructor’s practice. And all of the activities in the program of care are documented in exacting detail. Unfortunately, a lot of instruction sheets are decades old and are almost impossible to follow because they’ve never been critically reviewed, rewritten and edited. Handing over these old instructions and expecting anyone to follow them is inviting confusion, poor technique and mediocre outcomes. Shortcuts: The Long Way Around
At Lecoq Practice Development we keep running into people who pursue efficiency. The problem is that being efficient is usually done at the expense of effectiveness. This applies in particular to training and development of staff and therapists.
Instead, we focus on effectiveness. If you are really effective, use your resources wisely, focus on the parent or patient, efficiency will show up. If you are seeing 100 VT evaluations per year and are very efficient (as we mean it), as many as half will enroll in therapy. Not all of them will complete therapy.
But using the system as we teach it, if you do 100 evaluations, you should enroll a minimum of 90 percent. That’s because in our system, people who can’t or won’t do VT, don’t take up doctor time. They go into a follow up system and a surprising number come back to enroll after they have resolved time, money and other issues. And they have a high completion rate.
As with therapist training, putting an effective marketing, evaluation and enrollment system in place takes time and effort. Forget the shortcuts. Go for serious training. Your staff will take you seriously about making changes if you take the time fully train and develop them.
We have begun offering a few online courses, and we hope you will remember this blog as you watch them. Use the documents, forms and scripts we’ll provide to help get you and your staff up to speed. Our new online course, “Compliance and your VT Mission,” includes 1 hour of individual phone consultation because we know people need time and support to implement what they learned.
Everyone has sat over lunch with a successful VT OD at a meeting and gotten some tips and ideas. And for the most part, those ideas are never fully implemented. That’s why we continue to provide live courses and intensive training, and support to our full-service clients. We’re not willing to forsake effectiveness for efficiency’s sake.