Dr. Liu wins national award for e-learning initiative

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | July 31, 2013

Image with file name: Liu0625.jpg

Howard Liu, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at UNMC, has been recognized with the 2013 Innovations Award from the Association of Directors of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry (ADMSEP).

Dr. Liu and his collaborator, Martin Klapheke, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, received the award for their Clinical Simulation Initiative, a project that provides a free national database of online psychiatric teaching cases.

This is the third year for the project, which now encompasses seven online modules dealing with various psychiatric topics.

See Dr. Liu's module.

"Eventually, we'd like one for each psychiatric disorder," Dr. Liu said.

UNMC's e-learning strategy

Dr. Liu is also playing a major role in one of UNMC's major strategic initiatives during 2013-2014 -- to enhance on-campus learning for UNMC students through development of a blended approach using e-modules and e-courses coupled with flipped classrooms.

"UNMC is geared to develop several of these modules/courses across our colleges and institutes over the next few years," said Dr. Davies. "Our goal is to be among the leaders nationally in the use of blended classrooms to a) enhance teaching of our students at all levels, b) inform how our students learn so we can quickly adopt best practices and c) promulgate research in teaching innovation among our faculty.

"The flexibility afforded by this blended model of learning will be critical to the success of our students, faculty, alumni and partners in the new era of the Affordable Care Act and to providing options that may enable us to reduce the escalating cost of education to our students."

Dr. Liu said the database has been a collaborative process.

"It's like the stone soup model," he said.

For the module he created on adolescent depression, Dr. Liu drew on teammates from throughout the campus -- Paul Paulman, M.D., was a featured player in the film, which is posted on the ADMSEP website and was sponsored by the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska.

"When these modules get created, they become the official national curriculum," he said.

One advantage of the modules is that they can illustrate for medical students situations they might not have encountered in the learning environment.

"If they have not seen something, they can at least simulate the experience," he said. "You should know about eating disorders, but if you haven't seen a patient with an eating disorder, you can watch the module."

A learner-centered mission requires meeting the students where they are, and today's students are online, he said.

"From the students' perspective, they always want what's best and most efficient," Dr. Liu said.

Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Dele Davies, M.D., applauded Dr. Liu's accomplishment.

"In a relatively short period of time, Dr. Liu has established a reputation as a national leader on e-learning through use of his considerable expertise in a collaborative fashion to benefit psychiatric education nationwide," Dr. Davies said. "This model is one that is likely to be adopted by other disciplines in medicine and other areas of health education."

The modules also allow for what Dr. Liu called a "flipped classroom," in which students watch an e-learning module, then come to class to see the lessons put into practice.

"They can watch a 10-minute video on the basics of de-escalation (helping a patient in a state of anger or distress to become calmer), and when they come to class, we do a simulation -- we have an actor, and the team of students can de-escalate him."


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August 02, 2013 at 8:33 AM

Congrats Howard!!

Barbara Harrison
July 31, 2013 at 10:18 AM


July 31, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Great work Dr. Liu!

Mary Helms
July 31, 2013 at 7:48 AM

Way to go Howard! Mary