Category Archives: Uncategorized

OLab site updates

We have been changing where we are hosting the olab.ca services over the next few days. We apologize to those of you who found that some things did not respond while we switched over. Or you may have received a (mildly alarming) message about a bad security certificate. We are gradually fixing all these issues, while continuing to develop our various tools and components in the platform.

The switch is partially complete, and it helps us to open up a bunch of new OLab services. This site, https://olab.ca, will be the main distribution point for services and projects related to our OLab4 educational research platform.

At https://demo.olab.ca/olab, we are running a demo version of our OLab4 virtual scenario platform. The player has been complete for some time and has been shown to be nice and stable. The authoring interface for creating new scenarios is still in progress, I’m sorry to say, but we are now making great progress.

There will be 3 other platforms and 3 other services linked into this. More info as we gradually integrated them.

Porting Medbiq standard virtual scenarios between servers

In past years, there has been a lot of focus on making virtual scenarios and virtual patients portable between systems. No organization wants to put a lot of effort and resources into creating a set of scenarios for their learners, only to find that they cannot be used because the systems cannot play them any more. A huge waste of effort and resources.

Indeed, this problem was the genesis of the Open Educational Repositories (OER) initiatives that we saw a few years ago. We like to think that the Virtual Patients community was ahead of its time in generating things like this eViP repository several years ago: https://virtualpatients.eu

This project was largely the stimulus for the creation, under the auspices of Medbiquitous (https://www.medbiq.org), of the ANSI/Medbiq Virtual Patient standard. (https://www.medbiq.org/medbiquitous_virtual_patient) This standard provided the means by which cases could be ported between servers. For VP players who are compliant with the MVP standard, you can also port virtual scenarios between different systems.

Given that many virtual patient players do not last very long, this portability of cases and being able to take your content to another server or system was a mitigation against the risk that your own system went bust.

We are pleased to note that OpenLabyrinth is now one of the longest lasting systems, over 16 years old, and is also the most compliant with the MVP standard.

As we move onwards to OLab4, we will continue to support the MVP standard as far as possible, although we now note that its format does inhibit the migration of more advanced scenario features and functions.

The WAVES Projecthttp://wavesnetwork.eu, has been exploring this aspect of portability as part of its wide reaching mandate. In particular, they have created a very useful document describing some of the challenges with the MVP standard. Hosted on GitHub, this is a live document that will continue to evolve: https://github.com/wavesnetwork/mvp-standard/blob/master/FAQ.md

Integration of systems remains a challenge. The impetus now seems to be leaning away from portable content and reusable objects. SCORM was widely heralded but not widely adopted. Now the focus seems to be more on the ability to explore activity streams across a broader range of tools and platforms. This is why, in OLab4 and in the WAVES Project, we are furthering the use of xAPI and the LRS as a common data repository where you can aggregate activity metrics, no matter what educational platform the learner is using.

Turk Talk on MedEdPublish

Michelle Cullen and the faculty members at the University of Calgary School of Nursing have been making great use of Turk Talk for teaching and assessing therapeutic communication. An article has just been published that summarizes the work so far:

Turk Talk: human-machine hybrid virtual scenarios for professional education 

Cullen M, Sharma N, Topps D, Turk Talk: human-machine hybrid virtual scenarios for professional education, MedEdPublish, 2018, 7, [4], 45, doi:https://doi.org/10.15694/mep.2018.0000266.1

Logical pathways in a Turk Talk map

In the article, they describe how they have been able to scale up this approach, its practical applications and utility, and the potential cost savings compared to using standardized patients.

If you are interested in exploring the Turk Talk approach further, please contact us.

QuRE project update

The Quality Referral Evolution (QuRE) project, www.ahs.ca/qure, is making good progress.

QuRE checklist for referrals

The QuRE Project started in Alberta, as an initiative to enhance the quality of clinical referrals and consults in healthcare. With 2.3 million referrals created every year in Alberta alone, the potential for improvements and savings is enormous. Now several other Canadian provinces, including Saskatchewan and British Columbia, are starting to engage in similar and collaborative efforts.

Earlier this year, the Office of Health & Medical Education Scholarship (OHMES) at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, became involved with this project. The QuRE group had some tremendous work to establish an evidence-informed approach to quality referrals and consults. Some educational materials had been created and seminars given.

OHMES saw an opportunity to create a more interactive approach to the educational processes of the QuRE Project. Rather than simply telling healthcare learners what to do, we used OpenLabyrinth virtual scenarios and CURIOS video mashups, along with other educational tools such as GrassBlade, PowToons, to create more interactive materials, with built-in activity metrics and analytics.

This approach will enable us to continually modify our materials (its own quality evolution, as it were), based on learner performance, not just on yet more questionnaires.

What has particularly excited us at OHMES about this project is that it represents an opportunity to study how an educational intervention can have an impact on patient care. For years, especially in CME circles, there have been repeated calls for educational approaches that can actually demonstrate a change in how we provide care, and ultimately, on improved patient outcomes.

One particular aspect of this project is that we intend to longitudinally track, over several years, how feedback and these interventions may iteratively improve the quality of referrals and consults in participating groups. We will have sufficient data to demonstrate useful changes, thanks to the ongoing use of activity metrics, gathered from across multiple healthcare systems.

Vaccine evidence on College Humor

The blog College Humor has created a very amusing, if somewhat coarse, series entitled:

“If Google were a Guy”

As you can imagine with college stuff, some of the humor is quite smutty. But we love this particular segment in the 3rd episode.

You can explore the rest of series at your leisure.

(Sadly the link using CURIOS does not work at present but will be fixed soon.)

Intermittent interruptions

We have an unusual situation where our web server is being clobbered by standard updates to RedHat Linux.

Because of this, we are encountering “Error connecting to database” on an all too frequent basis.

There is a manual fix for this, but a simple OS update should not be clobbering the underlying MariaDB service. We have asked our local support team for a more robust fix.

We apologize for the current patchy service. No data has been lost. And the OpenLabyrinth virtual scenario servers themselves seem to be unaffected.

[Update: 15aug2018] – yay, I think we have a fix. There is an odd bug but, with UCIT’s help, I think we now have a more robust fix. Thank you, all.

Medbiq Conference 2018

We just got back from the Medbiquitous Conference 2018 in Baltimore. Great conference with lots of collaborative projects coming out of it.

There continues to be a high degree of interest in activity metrics and xAPI related projects. In particular, we heard about:

It was noted yet again that we are all immersed in our biases and, despite this, also overly dependent on subjective assessments from teachers. Things have to change.

 

Back to normal

At last, it seems like we have things back to running normally. Phew – that was way harder than we expected. Many apologies for all the inconvenience.

As well as this WordPress site, our OpenLabyrinth virtual scenario server at http://demo.openlabyrinth.ca should be working properly again.

The mail server and forgot-my-password link were offline for several weeks. Apologies to anyone who was trying to get in.

Our other linked services such as our GrassBlade LRS are now mostly back to normal. If you find continued glitches, please let us know.

Service interruption

We plan to upgrade our servers on Thursday afternoon, May 3rd.

You may notice interruption to the following services around the following times 1300-1600 Mountain time:

  • openlabyrinth.ca — this WordPress site and the associated forums
  • curios.openlabyrinth.ca — our CURIOS video mashup service
  • our GrassBlade LRS

Our OpenLabyrinth v3 virtual scenario platform at demo.openlabyrinth.ca should continue to function, but there may be linked oddities at this time, as well.

We hope that these interruptions will be brief (if all goes well and allowing for glitches).