First AO Spine NA Online Fellows Course: That's Debatable

Using our Totara Learning Management System to provide robust online learning experiences

14 December 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has required us to think about engaging our learners in different ways outside of our traditional face-to-face events.  Many AO NA offerings have been delivered online and the annual fall Fellows Course was no exception.  Leading this effort were co-chairs Rick Bransford and Ryan Spiker.  The “That’s Debatable” series featured six modules of asynchronous self-study material and 90 minutes of synchronous live sessions. The six modules included cervical trauma, cervical radiculopathy, cervical spondylolytic myelopathy, thoracolumbar trauma, lumbar spinal stenosis, and attaining global spinal alignment.

The asynchronous self-study material was delivered to learners through Totara, the AO NA Learning Management System (LMS).  Participants were to complete the self-study material prior to attending the synchronous live session. The synchronous live sessions featured panelists discussing cases in a debate-style format that allowed for exploring and analyzing controversies in management and treatment options.  The online self-study materials provided prior to the synchronous sessions helped learners prepare for such a discussion. Archived versions of the synchronous sessions are available to all learners, including those that were not able to participate. 

The Practice Essentials component of the Fellows Course, led by Lali Sekhon, will be presented in consecutive Thursday evening sessions starting on January 7, 2021, 8:00-9:30 p.m. EST.  These sessions will cover several non-clinical topics important for fellows transitioning into practice. 

According to Ron Costello, AO North America’s Digital Learning Manager, “the Spine Fellows Course was in many ways the maiden voyage for Totara, AO North America’s new learning management system (LMS). The Totara LMS is based on Moodle, an open-source code used in many colleges and universities around the world. Totara provides us with the opportunity to customize the end user experience: specific dashboards and learning hubs are set up according to experience level and clinical division, allowing peer groups to share and exchange ideas, perspectives, and thoughts on topics that are important to them. 

“The Spine Fellows Course also allowed us to pilot Totara as our “One Stop Shop” for online learning in AO NA. Totara provided a forum where learners could give the faculty feedback from the sessions or ask questions. In turn, faculty were able to respond to questions, thus creating a dialogue with the participants.  The flexibility of accessing content and reviewing it again later was also made possible.  We want to provide both our faculty and learners with a robust system that meets their needs, is device-agnostic, and can be accessible anytime, anywhere.


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