They Didn’t Want Online! How Paramedic Students Came to Love It!

Concurrent Session 7
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Paramedic students were very resistant to the idea of Online Learning. Most were concerned that they would lose that personal connection to their instructors and their peers. Come see what we did to make our classroom “The Most Magical Place on Earth”. There may even be some extra magic!


Bill has been involved in EMS for 22 years and as full-time Paramedic Educator for the last 10 years. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Telecommunications from the University of Florida and a Master's Degree in Public Health from the University of South Florida. Bill has been a leader in bringing distance education to Madison College and is currently working with other faculty in the college to help get them started using virtual solutions for their flexible learning classes. Bill is a father of two a dedicated husband and a voracious Florida Gators fan.

Extended Abstract

We had a problem. Students in our Paramedic program work all day and then had to attend courses at night.  Some of them were driving upwards of two hours for a four hour long class and then having to make that same long commute home again late at night.  They were tired and the interactions and overall learning in the course were affected because of it.  We needed to find another option to better serve our students.  Initially, the group was very hesitant to consider online. They were worried about the loss of interaction and engagement with the instructor.  They didn’t consider themselves “techy”.  They didn’t think it was even possible.

To address the demands on student travel time, yet honor the concerns, assumptions, and perception about “going online”, we found online synchronous Paramedic courses (remote attendance), complete with skills demonstrations, were the answer.  This session will highlight how the instructor created his first attempt at an interactive, online synchronous classroom for $14 per month using some “found” items and a good roll of duct tape. The students, who were very hesitant about remote learning because they assumed they would lose interaction, quickly adapted and found they were getting a similar classroom experience to their fellow students.  

The major challenge for an online synchronous experience is how to address skills practice.  Paramedic is a very skills heavy course and even though students were required to come to live onsite labs once or twice a month, there was a lot of skills practice in class, especially skills demonstrations.  We found a way to overcome that challenge too.  Others at the college took note, and with the support of an amazing Dean and other colleagues who helped find solutions, the online synchronous remote attendance Paramedic course is moving to the next phase, a more systemic, supported approach that no longer has to rely on $14 a month, a “found” webcam, and a thrift store tripod.  Join us to learn more about how we did it, what we learned, and how we plan to evolve it in the future.

Attendees in this session will…

  1. Learn how our online synchronous remote Paramedics course has evolved thus far and where we hope to go in the future.
  2. Learn about best practices in teaching Paramedic and other “hard” skills that we can implement online.
  3. Learn about the technology limitations, possibilities, and options for online synchronous remote courses.
  4. Learn about strategies for gaining support from colleagues, leadership, and students.

During the presentation, attendees will submit questions to a backchannel.  We will use some of these as a spark for discussion.  However, we will also come with our own questions, including:  

  1. What possibilities exist at your own college for online synchronous remote courses?
  2. How could online synchronous remote courses better meet student needs at your college?  Is there a particular content area or program that would lend itself well to this format?
  3. What barriers are difficult to get past (at your college or within your own framing) when considering online synchronous remote courses?

So come have fun with us and maybe even see what Paramedics can do.