Over the past 10 years, multiple clinical apps, online calculators, and decision-making tools on smart phones have become available for residents to use in clinical care. Despite having numerous technological resources for clinical work and decision making, the use of technology for teaching in resident education is variable and does not advance the use of evidence-based learning strategies at the bedside. In this column, we review how a whiteboard application, Google Jamboard, can positively impact the inpatient learning environment with an attention to adult learning theory.
Google Jamboard was released in 2017 as part of its office suite. It is a free virtual whiteboard that enables users to draw, add text and pictures, link to other Google products, and post sticky notes. In health professions education, Jamboard has been primarily used for undergraduate medical education as an adjunct to virtual anatomy classes.1,2 It has also been used to post dental student reflections and to share “shout-outs” in a residency program.3,4
Reflection and spacing are known evidence-based learning strategies that can be difficult to operationalize on wards.5 To promote reflection, we created a shared Jamboard link for all clinical learners on the team. Using the sticky note feature in Jamboard, resident learners were encouraged to post one learning point from rounds each day. These learning points or “sticky notes” could be a medical factoid, clinical pearls, or “soft” skills observed on teaching rounds. (The following link is an example of what a Jamboard looks like for our clinical learning teams: https://jamboard.google.com/d/1vZI1WB7NI7cbF2gA_SXKrX_9S8lr8pl-Ei9NAf4TR_4/viewer.)
Medical students also posted notes indicating one learning point they learned for every patient they followed. We did not dictate the color of the sticky note, but educators could assign a color for each learner or topic. At different time points during the week, the attending led the team through a review of the pearls posted and expanded on concepts shared. To make the review session more fun, the team would have tea, coffee, or ice cream during the discussions and then share the Jamboard on social media. Social media reached a broader audience and encouraged asynchronous discussion about learning points. By utilizing these techniques, Jamboard becomes a fine tool for spacing of concepts as learners get to hear again about topics discussed and elaboration as the attending can lead group discussions to expand on teaching points described by learners.
Another use for Jamboard is to organize and share feedback. To do this, the attending creates a Jamboard for each learner and posts comments on skills, patient interaction, and documentation observed throughout the rotation. Next, the attending can either share the Jamboard with the learner to review or the attending can reference the Jamboard during verbal feedback. It is also possible for Jamboard to be used for educational handoffs around feedback if the attending had any concerns about certain areas of clinical performance with a learner.
Lastly, Jamboard can promote inclusivity as a way for all learners—regardless of training level and confidence—to share what they have learned. Additionally, the anonymous nature of Jamboard allows all learners to participate without fear of being singled out for a wrong comment or thought.
To obtain feedback on the impact of Jamboard on the learning environment, we anonymously surveyed learners and posted on Twitter for asynchronous feedback. One medical student replied, “Utilizing Jamboard made me more diligent about reflecting on specific patient encounters and looking for a learning experience from our encounter” and a resident responded, “The use of these technologies created an intentional space for reflection and synthesis of knowledge. It forced me to actively acknowledge my learning.” An instructional consultant commented on Jamboard being an effective strategy for bite-sized learning and feedback. Multiple academic hospitalists were interested in Jamboard, and one tweeted, “Jamboard is much better for shareability and finding later” when compared to traditional sticky notes. In our experience, using Jamboard to promote reflection and spaced learning has improved the educational experience for learners on the wards.