Online learning provides a key to student success

Two emergency paramedics standing by a gurney and one on the radio

“Hello, yes, I would like to become an EMT.”

This is a common statement we hear often. It is great, people wanting to help people. What some students don’t initially understand though is that becoming an EMT is more than just saying so. It takes dedication, time commitment, good study habits, critical thinking skills, an ability to perform patient care skills, and compassion. Of course, the initial steps involve coursework. After more than 20 years of teaching, I have learned that not everyone learns the same way. Well, it didn’t really take me all those years to figure that out, but it has given me enough experience to determine how to meet student needs.

One thing most students require for success is reinforcement. How many times do students need to read, hear, or perform exercises to learn the material? In reality, it takes several times. For many students, listening to a lecture just isn’t enough. So a few years ago, we began supplementing the classroom with online coursework — a hybrid method if you will. Our online course content includes reading, multimedia files, assignment homework, as well as pre- and post tests. Once this online coursework was implemented, student success increased. We chose to use Emergency Care by Brady many years ago, and have continued with various editions of this text. Along with Emergency Care, Brady and Pearson created MyBradyLab.

This companion site provides several options for students to reinforce the learning process. When students actively participate in course activities and their learning experience, they usually succeed. I always open a class with an orientation, during which I tell them that in my 20 years of teaching I still have not figured out how to put the textbook under the pillow at night and absorb the information through osmosis. Students must actively study to be successful. It isn’t just about passing a quiz, a final exam, or the NREMT exam, but understanding and knowing what all the information means.

They need to know how to process the information and make sense out of it. They also need to look at a patient who is experiencing shortness of breath and be able to determine if they are having an exacerbation of CHF or COPD.

Offering students different methods of learning has proven to be a positive model. We still hold them to a standard of care and learning. We still administer tests in class, but the online platform augments the class and really reinforces the learning process. A recent small sample study was conducted with a single semester of our students to find if a direct correlation resulted from using an online platform to augment the classroom. To little surprise, there was a direct impact on the student’s overall grade and learning when combined with inclassroom lecture and online coursework.

Read more about what we did and how student achievement increased in my case study.


About the Author
Mark Komins

Mark Komins

Mark Komins has been in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for more than 25 years. He has spent time as an emergency medical technician, and as a ground and air ambulance-based paramedic. He is a nationally certified EMS educator through NEMSEC and holds a state teaching credential. He is also an instructor through the American Heart Association in all disciplines including CPR, ACLS, and PALS. Other experience includes 10 years with a volunteer search and rescue team, as a specialist reserve police officer, and 26 years volunteering with the Challenge Cup Relay, aka Baker to Vegas race. He also teaches and coordinates EMT courses at several junior colleges, and is the current program director of EMS Training Institute, Inc.