For the first time since 2012 I decided to visualize the entire learning journey. When I worked as a faculty member with the American Family Physicians, Performance Enhancement Forum (PEF) whose job it was to prepare medical practices engage in quality improvement programs (QIPs) in their offices we taught, coached and transferred content form the text to application through markers, sticky notes and flip charts. We worked over 2.5 days as a faculty to create a visual environment of learning translated into immediate application for medical teams to start their QIPs on Monday. I loved doing this work.

I worked as part of a 3-4 person faculty team in Illinois, Texas, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina and Iowa.The medical teams were motivated, skilled and committed. Between 6-10, 3-4 person teams attended these weekend training sessions by choice.  It was a great match between faculty and applied professionals. What I remember the most about the weekends that is relevant for the kind of study abroad program I want to lead, and something I did not do in 2015 or 2016 (Why not? I have no idea) was how over time from the first hour to the last hour we posted our learning on the walls in our conference rooms. Why did we do this?

  • To visualize what we discussed, decided and determined to be important.
  • To remind ourselves of where we started and where we were at
  • To elicit feedback from peers inside and outside the groups
  • To transfer the learning back to the medical offices by physically taking the poster home
  • To demonstrate the content in a variety of formats
  • To use symbols, text, images to communicate facts, meaning and applications

I decided I did not want to pass up the opportunity to have us capture the learning and sustain memory of what we learned and how our understanding can change over time. The images below show how far this group came in their study of Mood, Movement and the Mediterranean Diet. We are surrounded by our learning journey.

Enter room 4.4 at CEA Barcelona and you will see students mapped a part of a city using a semi-structured derive method.

Past the maps and a UIC flag hangs to remind us and guests which space we are in. Group work is posted around the room awaiting peer feedback.

No wall is left uncovered with learning.

Watch out! Learning has spilled out of the classroom. The sheet nearest the camera (left) was the only notes this group could come up with four weeks ago. After just one month they responded in depth, detail with perspective to six questions they could not answer in the same way just one month ago.

Sometimes there is no choice but to expand your mind and your thinking outside of the classroom.

It makes me very happy to walk to class every day knowing what we have done, how far we have come and where we can still explore. I am glad I dug back into my memories from the PEF, my colleagues and the teams we worked with. It makes me relieved to know we are progressing in our understanding and at the end of the program we will know what we did, how we did it and what our outcomes were. I feel this is the way to go and I intend to do it again. Of course, with terrific UIC students with character and capability like those that engage in our study abroad programs like the medical teams good outcomes are more likely.