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

Concurrent Session 10
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Students weren’t clamoring for online paramedic courses. In fact, they were resistant.  Yet, we had to find another option to better serve our students who were commuting long distances to attend class.  We piloted online synchronous (remote attendance) Paramedic courses and have now moved into full implementation. Join us to learn more about the challenges we faced, the process, tools, and approaches we used, and how we are moving on to next steps.  We will even share an inside peek into how we do Paramedic skills demonstrations online!



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.

Additional Authors

Tina Rettler-Pagel is a Faculty member and Chief Online Learning Officer at Madison College, in Madison, Wisconsin. Tina holds a B.S in Education with an emphasis on Emotional Disabilities from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.S. in Administrative Leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is currently working on a Student Affairs Administration Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Tina has completed an Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Teaching Certificate, as well as participated in OLC’s Institute for Engaged Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) in 2017. Her research interests include retention and persistence in the online classroom, women in higher education leadership and governance, digital equity, and community college approaches to teaching and learning. When consulting with faculty, and in her own practice, Tina shares three important lessons: start small, engage at all costs, and never underestimate the power of kindness and inclusion in the classroom. Tina's hashtags? #Mom #Partner #CommunityCollegeProud #OnWisconsin #OnceABadgerAlwaysABadger #A11yAdvocate #OnlineTeaching #DoctoralStudent #Includer #Kindness #Connector #OnlineLearning #TechNerd #Resilience #StrongGirlsStrongWomen #Hockey #Fishing #AnythingSummer #JamMaker #Perseverance #SayYesToNewAdventures #ComeAsYouAre #CrossFit #FarmRaised #StartWhereYouAre #OldSchoolCookingAndBaking #ImpostorPhenomemon #Access #DoctoralCandidate
Alan Natachu is a Technology Training Coordinator at Madison College, Madison, WI. He shifted from an artist career, working with the likes of ABC/Disney and the Smithsonian, to a training career when he was hired as a Creative at Apple, where he worked two years in a technology trainer role. Alan’s work with Apple gave him the skills to be an extraordinary and innovative trainer for faculty and staff in higher education.

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?

Attendees in this session will be engaged in 10 minute Q&A and group discussion in the following ways…

  1. Attendees will get post-it notes to add their thoughts about the above three questions and post them in a designated spot in the room.

  2. Attendees will partner up with someone who chose the same question and will either discuss or provide considerations/ideas to any barriers or challenges.  

  3. The larger group will then share insights and ahas from their partner work.  

  4. When possible, the presenters will follow up with the group (using email

Attendees will be provided with a resource handout as a takeaway from the session.