This week we are wrapping up the summer semester and preparing for the fall semester. The fall semester will be a lot lighter than it usually is because of fewer students and fewer faculty. We have over 20 fewer students beginning the program this fall than in a normal year because of a variety of factors. I suspect COVID-19 and online learning mandates are among those factors. Two faculty members have resigned their positions, so the medical imaging systems program is temporarily suspended.
And just when it looked like the pandemic was loosening its grip, well, here we go again. Texas does not have a mask mandate, and many have chosen not to be vaccinated. This vaccination status is starting to change a bit, at least with students, as many health care facilities are now requiring proof of vaccination before a student can start an internship.
One thing is certain, we will continue to stress the online component of lecture while coming into a classroom setting for labs. The sections have been divided into groups of 10 to keep exposure at a minimum. We continue to update our courses to accommodate the online component. At this point, I will not express my opinion on the effectiveness of our efforts toward self-directed learning. I believe we have a long way to go. I do know that our school and many others have shifted its mindset and do not intend to go back to a purely face-to-face format. I’m sure that the intent was there before, and the pandemic has only hastened the changes.
As of now, we need to find a way to better lay out the expectations and resources so that students will take it upon themselves to immerse themselves in the content. As of right now, it is difficult to get them to read anything assigned in person, much less on a learning platform task list. However, I will say that thanks to the efforts of Justin Barbour (big shout out to Justin!) and the Better Biomed YouTube channel, as well as other online resources, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve long heard that someone can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. As much as I would rather resist change and dig my heels into the old way, I must adapt and try to make things better for our students and future graduates. Change will happen with or without me.
Since we have a biomedical equipment technology program at two TSTC campuses, Waco and Harlingen, we have been told to appoint a content matter expert (CME) for every class offered. This person is predominantly responsible for the online content for his/her assigned courses. This will help keep the courses consistent across the state.
In the next few years, we will be converting to a performance-based education model. It looks different for every program, so I do not know yet how it will look for us. However, I have been told that every program will be “deconstructed” and each task and area of required knowledge will be broken down. It sounds a lot like competency-based education, but I am not sure how our version will go. Right now, we don’t know what we don’t know.
On another note, we will be looking for someone to teach medical imaging service (X-ray, CT, etc.) full-time. This person will need to be quite experienced in the field. More than likely, since the pay will be about half of what a field service technician with experience would make, this person would likely be a “pre-tiree” or soon to be retiree. The position will be in Waco, Texas. It will be posted soon at www.tstc.edu. We are hoping this person will be able to start in enough time to start teaching in January 2022 at the beginning of the spring semester.
Roger A Bowels, MS, EDD, CBET, is a BMET instructor at Texas State Technical College (TSTC) Waco and a freelance writer.
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