Avatars, online break out rooms and virtual clapping were all part of this year’s Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) conference.
Past conferences – which promote international excellence in education in the healthcare profession – have taken Work Psychology Group all over Europe. Last year, our founding director, Professor Fiona Patterson presented in Vienna.
But like many things, the spread of COVID-19 called a halt on this year’s plans to present in Glasgow. So, we swapped our passports and plane seats for a life-like virtual world from the comfort of our homes.
On September 7th, we joined teachers, researchers and educators in the healthcare profession for this annual AMEE conference with a difference.
Thanks to the online video platform company, Virtway Events, this year’s attendees each had a personalised avatar who could walk, clap and talk their way into the realistic conference layout.
Work Psychology Presenting at the 2020 AMEE conference
During the conference Professor Patterson, senior consultant Charlotte Flaxman and consultant Emma-Louise Rowe took centre stage (albeit virtually) to deliver a situational judgement test (SJT) masterclass.
The trio of organisational psychologists discussed the latest insights, the different modalities, practicalities and considerations around using an SJT in healthcare selection and development.
At WPG, our research focuses greatly on selection within healthcare. So, the AMEE conference (which was a consortium of delegates from the undergraduate, postgraduate and those in the healthcare sector) is a great platform to share our insights with the healthcare community.
The impressive video platform also gave us the chance to present in a more interactive and exciting way than we’ve perhaps grown to expect over the past months of video calls and webinars. We were certainly looking forward to being able to see something more exciting than the array of bookcases, potted plants and wall art that we’ve become used to as part of our colleagues’ home-working set ups.
Using new technology
When facilitating a masterclass in person, these types of events are quite interactive – they usually involve partner and table discussions, and activities.
To make sure this year’s event was no different, the WPG team stepped out of their comfort zones to use this new tech and encouraged delegates to virtually speak up, ask questions and get involved. We also attempted to use breakout rooms although this didn’t exactly go to plan!
Learnings from the conference
The event made us reflect upon just how much technology and the new virtual working world has changed some of the requirements and aspects of our jobs. For example, many of us have probably not had to operate an avatar at work before. And there were a few amusing situations where people’s virtual alter ego went slightly rogue! But we will potentially need new skills like these to be able to get the most out of learning and development opportunities going forward.
It certainly made us think about some of the other work we do in our consultancy. The difficulties in learning the tech and the difference between presenters and delegates reminded us how important it is with our projects to provide all assessors and candidates with training opportunities on how to use the tech before the session so they can focus on what is important on the day.
Aside from presenting, the annual AMEE conference gives us the opportunity to catch up with familiar faces (not just their avatar) and make new friends over wine and cheese. Though the event did an excellent job in creating a digital ‘networking room’ – complete with selfie station (for digital selfies with our avatar) – it reminded us that even though much can be accomplished from our home working set up, sometimes it’s hard to beat real life human interaction.
If you are interested in understanding more about the use of SJTs in healthcare selection – or a wider environment – please visit our research page or contact us to discuss future research opportunities.