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CardioWebinar: the evolution of digital education during the COVID-19 pandemic
  1. Balrik Singh Kailey1,
  2. Damanpreet Dev2,
  3. Daniel M Sado3,
  4. Vishal Luther4,5
  1. 1 Cardiology, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  2. 2 Cardiology, Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Kettering, UK
  3. 3 Cardiology, King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  4. 4 Cardiology, Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK
  5. 5 Liverpool Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Livepool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Vishal Luther, Consultant Cardiologist, Liverpool Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Liverpool Heart & Chest Hospital, Liverpool L14 3PE, UK; vishal.luther{at}lhch.nhs.uk

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Formal face-to-face cardiology teaching was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and innovation in digital education was required to fill the training gap. We created ‘CardioWebinar’ to deliver free, accessible, high-quality teaching to help maintain trainee morale and fill this gap. We hoped that by maintaining and improving knowledge we would indirectly improve patient care. This programme consisted of weekly live consultant-delivered webinars covering the breadth of cardiology, all recorded and available online for viewer convenience.

In this article, we explore the advantages and challenges of webinars in cardiology, using CardioWebinar as a case study.

Organisation

One advantage of webinars is the ease of delivery. Webinars need minimal administrative support and can be advertised on social media and through mailing lists. The event itself has no hotel fees, venue hire, catering or travel costs. Teaching can be organised relatively swiftly and at minimal cost. This simplicity has allowed CardioWebinar to deliver over 60 webinars in 15 months, watched by >15 000 people.

Breaking down educational barriers

Webinars are open to the entire healthcare team, regardless of geographical location. CardioWebinar was designed to support UK cardiology trainees, but, following a survey of 150 attendees, we learnt that a quarter of our viewers were non-trainees (physiologists, nursing staff, pharmacists, management, consultants and other junior doctors), and ~10% of our viewers were from abroad. Thus, by no longer restricting learners by grade or location, barriers are removed, opening education to all.

Content

Webinars remove the time and expense burden of travel from speakers, allowing educators from different regions to more easily participate. We could thus draw from the most enthusiastic speakers across the country, ensuring high-quality content—96% of CardioWebinar attendees rated the sessions as ‘very good – excellent’. This ease allowed less common topics to be covered (eg, aortopathies, pulmonary hypertension), as we were able to engage with speakers farther away. Indeed 84% of attendees felt CardioWebinar helped them cover more challenging areas of the cardiology curriculum.1

Recordings

Webinar has the agility to position itself at convenient times to maximise attendance. We found 17:30 worked best for both UK attendees and our largest international cohorts (the Middle East). The ease of recording and uploading CardioWebinars using various free platforms allowed viewers to catch up and learn at their preferred pace. Initially, the British Junior Cardiologists’ Association Video Gallery was incredibly helpful, and now all CardioWebinars are housed at www.cardiowebinar.com. Indeed, some recordings have attracted over 10 times more views (some >1000) compared with the live events.

Measuring engagement

One of the main downsides (other disadvantages are listed in table 1) of webinar-based teaching is the inability to monitor engagement. One way to address this is mandating the viewers webcam be activated to help speakers better gauge audience feedback. CardioWebinar has incorporated a learning management system (LMS) which can ask question(s) to assess the viewers’ learning. We currently use the LMS to generate viewer feedback and offer certificates of attendance, and we plan to incorporate ‘Questions’ in the future.

Table 1

Advantages and drawbacks of webinar-based teaching

Blended learning

How webinars will sit alongside traditional teaching remains unknown. In the UK, formal trainee education was previously delivered through face-to-face, region-specific training days, allowing trainees to network as well as learn. The drawback was that those on-call could not attend, and the topics covered were limited by the expertise available on that day within the region. As training days have had to become virtual, CardioWebinar has looked to facilitate this change. Some deaneries have grouped prerecorded CardioWebinars with their live events, followed by a live discussion facilitated by a local panel of educators. This has been well received by trainees and faculty alike, with convenience and more time for discussion cited as the main benefits. This model of ‘blended learning’ can be adopted worldwide, and if the discussions are recorded they can continue to be shared on online platforms, dissolving the geographical restriction to learning, allowing all healthcare professionals to benefit from both the webinar and the discussion points.

Summary

Dr Dan Sado, a cardiology training programme director based in London, summarised our article, stating “webinars have many advantages, and medical education needs to harness these and exploit them to the maximum, blending this with face-face training and the different advantages this approach brings.” Given the present familiarity with webinars, we feel that cardiology educators now need to think about how this mode of teaching can complement traditional learning moving forward, and we believe our CardioWebinar model of blended learning exemplifies an effective approach.

Ethics statements

Patient consent for publication

Reference

Footnotes

  • Twitter @CardioWebinar, @vish_luther

  • Contributors All authors contributed equally to the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.