Physician Assisted Death

A year ago, the Supreme Court of Canada over-ruled a ban on assisted suicide or physician assisted death. They gave the federal government a year to create new legislation. So today would have been the deadline.

This opened up a huge debate but it has been good to see that generally, the debate has remained reasoned, on both sides, with many complex viewpoints brought to light.

On 21 Jan 2016, the federal and provincial governments were granted a four month extension to their deadline, to give them a bit more time to sort things out. (Note that recently, CBC mistakenly stated that the Feb 6th deadline was still in effect but this is not so.)

For local healthcare providers, we created a webinar and some challenging case discussions in OpenLabyrinth. This was presented as part of the CURIOS series of webinars. If anyone is interested in access to these cases to help facilitate discussion around these tricky issues, please contact us.

Turk Talk demo case improved

For those of you who have been following our Turk Talk developments in OpenLabyrinth, we have made a few improvements to our demonstrator case that shows you more about what Turk Talk is and how it works.

Check out this short YouTube video, embedded using our CURIOS video mashup tool, for a quick overview of what the teacher and the learners see when running a Turk Talk session.

You can explore our demo case a bit more at

OHMES symposium 17-18 Feb, 2016

We don’t normally put in a plug for every conference and symposium kicking around but this one is relevant for OpenLabyrinth in many ways.

The Office of Health & Medical Education Scholarship (OHMES) is holding its second annual symposium at The University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine, starting lunchtime on Feb 17th and finishing noon on Feb 18th.

Check out the conference program here.

OHMES members are very active just now in furthering the development of OpenLabyrinth as an educational research platform. See the recent announcement of the IPH Catalyst Grant, which was spearheaded by OHMES members. The symposium will also feature some OpenLabyrinth case material in its discussions.

CURIOS video mashup service launch

Finally, the CURIOS video mashup service is up and running! This service is featured in our highlights reel here:

We have previously given you a heads-up about this: and we have given some of our advanced authors early access. But now it is available to anyone with a login on our demo server.

CURIOS Video Mashup Tool instructions – more detailed notes and screenshots with step-by-step guide on how to use the tool.

Wow, there were a lot of delays in getting this service transferred over to one of our servers. Our developer team did a great job last year in making this tool available on schedule last year. But a series of weird glitches, including the delay in getting this WordPress site transferred from a third-party hosting agency to one of our own servers, has seriously impacted this, which was very frustrating for all of you.

If you are interested in trying things out and creating your own video mashups, you will need a login on our demo OpenLabyrinth server. Use this form if you don’t already have a login – remember to tell us why you want to create such mashups.

New development funding for OpenLabyrinth

Excellent news! We have been very fortunate to receive new funding for the further development of OpenLabyrinth as an educational research platform.

The O’Brien Institute of Public Health, the Department of Family Medicine and the Office of PostGraduate Medical Education at The University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine, have made a combined contribution towards a Catalyst Grant.

The intent of catalyst grants is to improve the infrastructure and tools so that we can springboard forwards to applying for broader research funding. This catalyst grant project is being directed by the Office of Health & Medical Education Scholarship (OHMES), our newly reconstituted education research group.

The grant opens up some interesting new potential functional areas for OpenLabyrinth and will be particularly focused on activity metrics, using the Experience API (xAPI). OHMES members are working closely with the Medbiquitous Learning Experience Working Group, which was just announced a few days ago, on creating a set of ANSI standards to support such research.

Turk Talk in PeerJ

We are getting lots of interest in our new Turk Talk function in OpenLabyrinth, the new human-computer hybrid approach to natural language processing.

PeerJ has just accepted a draft article as a Pre-Print.

Topps D, Cullen ML, Sharma N, Ellaway RH. (2016) Putting the ghost in the machine: exploring human-machine hybrid virtual patient systems for health professional education. PeerJ PrePrints 4:e1659v1


This article will go forwards for full peer-review but we were keen to do an early release to encourage others who might be interested in collaborating in this area of educational research.

Medbiquitous announces new Learning Experience group

Mebiquitous “is a not-for-profit, international group of professional associations, universities, commercial, and governmental organizations seeking to develop and promote technology standards for the health professions that advance lifelong learning, continuous improvement, and better patient outcomes.”

These guys do great work that underpins many collaborative initiatives in healthcare. The University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine is a proud and active member.

On 20 Jan 2016, Medbiq announced a new working group, the Learning Experience group.

“Education analytics offers an opportunity to better track learner educational activities and to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the healthcare workforce as well as factors associated with higher performance…

…The new Learning Experience Working Group will develop a set of Experience API (xAPI) profiles to provide guidance around collecting data on specific types of healthcare learning activities. The scope includes simulations (Virtual patients, mannekin-based simulations, preceptor-reviewed simulations, virtual worlds/games, Standardized Patients, etc) and clinical training activities and experiences.”

Members of the OpenLabyrinth Development Consortium are actively involved in this initiative and in Medbiquitous.

And just a quick heads up, the Medbiquitous Annual Conference is coming up: May 16-17, 2016 in Baltimore. A very innovative and collaborative group – come join us.

Snazzy new home page

Well, that took way longer than it should have. Sorry about that, guys n’ gals – a combination of technical glitches and being pulled away to research grants etc etc.

We hope you like this new look and improved access to help, examples and most of all, free trial accounts on our demo server.

Now that we are running the web server in-house, and have much greater control over how it is linked to other platforms, we hope to bring you a variety of new aggregated services that tie into the OpenLabyrinth education research platform.


New web server for OpenLabyrinth

Some time ago, we said we would be moving our OpenLabyrinth web site to another server. I think we are finally ready to go.

For most things, this will make no difference at all and you will notice little change. A new look and not much else.

For the technical amongst you, the IP address will change.

At the moment, we are just doing a wee bit more testing before we switch.


Opening a new door into the labyrinths – just as well we are not using Windows.

More Turk Talk sessions with OpenLabyrinth

Our first test session with Turk Talk, where we use a human-computer hybrid setup for simple natural language processing to assist the assessment of decision making, went really well – much better than expected with very few technical glitches.

We plan to hold the next one in a couple of weeks where we will stress test both the Turker and the software, to see how much cognitive load can be handled and what needs to be improved to increase this.

At present, we are focusing on mental health conditions for our topics and material but the approach does not have to be clinical at all.

Watch this space!