Using Osmosis to Support Distance Learning

Osmosis Team
Published on Apr 3, 2020. Updated on Sep 15, 2020.

Has your institution moved from live classes to distance learning? If so, you know that this transition can be difficult. In today's blog, our team shares how you can use the Osmosis platform to support distance learning in your program.

Interest in distance learning has surged due to institutions’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, this practice isn’t new to medical education. Most U.S. medical schools have been recording lectures for students to view from home for years - and the resulting asynchronous learning is, in fact, a form of distance learning. Many students at U.S. Medical schools do not regularly attend lectures and, according to the AAMC’s 2017 Medical School Year Two Questionnaire, 23.5% of students said they “Almost never” attend lecture and 17.4% reported they only “Occasionally” go to lecture. 

If your institution wants—or needs—to implement distance learning, the question then becomes: how can you optimize online learning with e-learning tools like Osmosis, especially in situations where physically gathering students together isn’t feasible?

We designed Osmosis from the ground up as a curricular support tool. It’s built on established learning science and multimedia design principles. As such, it includes videos, flashcards, and a study schedule tool. And, it encourages notetaking and collaboration through Osmosis Workspaces.

Read on to learn how you can leverage Osmosis when implementing distance learning at your institution.

Engaging video library

The core of Osmosis is our library of more than 1,200 high-quality illustrated videos, broken into three learning levels to meet your learners where they are:

  • At the simplest level, there are hundreds of basic science and disease videos designed for learners who either don’t have previous exposure to a topic or who want clarification on the topic.

  • The next level up is our High-Yield Pathology videos, which cover the highest-yield topics on the USMLE® Step 1, COMLEX-USA® Level 1, and PANCE®, synthesize clinical topics, and begin and end with contrasting patient cases to bring the subjects to life and make them memorable.

  • At the final level, our 185 Clinical Reasoning videos are designed for learners who have some command of the subject—usually clinical students. They summarize foundational science underpinnings, before moving into disease manifestations, differential diagnosis, and management.

Finally, we have organized most Osmosis videos by organ system or by specialty, with options to sort our basic science videos by pharmacology, pathology, or physiology.

Best practices for using Osmosis in teaching and learning

Now that you’re more familiar with the Osmosis video library, let’s look at how you can use Osmosis in asynchronous and synchronous distance learning.

Asynchronous learning

To optimize your students’ asynchronous distance learning experience, we recommend providing them with curated lists of Osmosis videos that are aligned with your class learning objectives. You can use these videos as supplements to your own lectures, or if you’re strapped for time or covering for a colleague, you can use them in place of a lecture. As well, if you want to flip your classroom, you can assign Osmosis videos as pre-work to prime students’ learning before your active learning sessions.

If you’re ready to use Osmosis videos for asynchronous distance learning, here are a few strategies for delivering them to your students:

  • Share links to individual videos in your LMS. To do this, simply copy each video’s URL, post it into your LMS, and encourage your students to follow the link to watch it.

  • Use playlists to assign or recommend a collection of videos to your class. Osmosis includes an easy-to-use playlist feature, allowing you to select the videos you want, add them to a new or existing playlist (which you can name), and drop the playlist URL into your LMS. You can also share playlists via email.

Osmosis videos are also accompanied by assessment items: both flashcards and multiple-choice questions. These assessments allow students to check their comprehension and enable you to see if they understand what they learned via the Osmosis Analytics Dashboard.

When you create and share a playlist, our platform automatically gathers all of the related assessment items in one place. Students can then practice with the same items using a link at the top of the playlist. As an added bonus, students can practice good learning habits like spaced repetition and retrieval practice by regularly answering Osmosis flashcards. And, students can improve their exam-day performance through continuous practice with Osmosis multiple-choice questions.

Measure students’ understanding with the Osmosis Analytics Dashboard

Moving back to the Osmosis Analytics Dashboard, if you’re an Osmosis institutional subscriber, you have a window into how all of the students in your cohort are performing. With the analytics dashboard, you can see overall views of videos, flashcards, and multiple-choice questions. You can also drill down to look at individual student performance.

When working with students remotely, having this window into strengths and learning gaps can make one-on-one conferences and small group sessions more productive. You and your students can spot challenging topic areas and focus on clarifying difficult concepts before moving to the next lesson.

Synchronous learning

Imagine that your distance learning course also includes some live—or synchronous—learning time too. This synchronous learning could take place in a virtual meeting room like Zoom or WebEx. How could you use Osmosis content in this type of setting? Here are two ideas:

  1. If you assign Osmosis videos as pre-work, consider starting your session with audience participation. Use flashcards or multiple-choice questions connected to the Osmosis videos. Students can answer with iClickers or audience polling tools. Then you can spend a few minutes clarifying ideas and areas of confusion, or talking about clinical application of the topics.

  2. Are course exams coming up? Many students have trouble transitioning from fact recall to knowledge application. As well, many students need help learning how to reason through board-style questions. You might bring up an Osmosis multiple-choice question, and use it to model clinical reasoning while ruling in or out certain answer options.

Next steps for using Osmosis to support distance learning in your program

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to implement distance learning in your program. Instead, you can use an e-learning resource like Osmosis to support your transition to this learning model. To recap, you can:

  • Use Osmosis videos to supplement or replace lectures.

  • Use Osmosis playlists to easily share collections of videos and associated assessment items.

  • Clarify understanding with Osmosis question and answer at the start of live learning sessions.

  • Encourage positive learning habits among your students with Osmosis: retrieval practice reduces the forgetting curve, and practicing with multiple choice questions enhances testing performance.

  • Monitor student performance using the Osmosis Analytics Dashboard.

If you have questions about how you can leverage Osmosis to support distance learning in your program, contact us at [email protected]

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