Director's Message
Director photo
Vital Signs is back!  While it has been awhile since we published Vital Signs -- with many changes in CHM over the past few years, not the least of which is a spirited expansion throughout the state -- we felt the time was ripe for a fresh new look and what we hope is useful information and resources.  
Vital Signs was inaugurated in 1996 with the purpose of reporting on significant developments and outcomes related to the educational programs of CHM. Our goal now is to continue that legacy and to expand it to include information and resources to support faculty in their scholarly endeavours.
In this edition we highlight some of the resources available to educators. The fall Faculty Development Seminar Series will focus on digital communication tools to enhance teaching and scholarly activities. If you are looking for a place to start when thinking about program evaluation, the web-based program evaluation planning tool described in the Evaluation section can help you articulate evaluation questions and measurement strategies.

For examples of applied educational technologies, check out the Blended Curricular and Learning Resources (B-CLR) feature. The Faculty Development section provides some tips on how to make lecture slides more legible.
OMERAD also hosts a medical education scholarship group on the first Wednesday of each month in A216 East Fee Hall on the East Lansing campus (1:30-3:00pm).  If you have an idea for scholarship, are looking for a collaborator, want some feedback on a project or hope to learn more about medical education scholarship, please feel free to join us. 

On behalf of the faculty and staff of OMERAD who have contributed to this newsletter, we hope you find this a welcome addition to your e-mail inbox.
Brian Mavis, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Director
Office of Medical Education Research and Development
College of Human Medicine


2009 Maatsch Presentation Now Online
How to Conduct Valid Performance Assessments Using Clinical Simulations

The Maatsch Visiting Scholar in Medical Education for 2009 was Mr. J. Jon Veloski, MS, Director of Medical Education Research at Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Last April he gave a presentation on How to Conduct Valid Performance Assessments Using Clinical Simulations. This presentation is now available on the OMERAD website:
Register now for OMERAD's Faculty Development Seminar Series 
The OMERAD Faculty Development Seminar Series helps faculty and staff develop skills to further medi­cal education. This year we will focus on how digital communication tools can enhance your teaching and scholarly activities. For more information and to register, please visit:

Primary Care Faculty Development Fellowship Program Receives Three-Year Funding 
The Primary Care Faculty Development Fellowship Program, administered by OMERAD recently received funding of $763,081 from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to continue its national fellowship program for another three years. Collaborating units are CHM's Department of Family Medicine, Department of Medicine, and Department of Pediatrics and Human Development. The goal of the fellowship program is to train new primary care faculty to be successful in their academic roles.
The fellowship program uses an on-campus/at-home format, with fellows receiving training in East Lansing for four weeks during an academic year, and completing assignments and a major project at home. Fellows work with an experienced faculty mentor throughout the year. Topics addressed during the on-campus training sessions include: 1) clinical teaching and evaluation; 2) research and evidence-based medicine; 3) leadership and management; 4) scholarly communications; 5) academic socialization; 6) medically underserved and special population topics; and 7) instructional technology and distance learning skills.

The fellowship program will begin operation this academic year in January because of delayed funding. 
On-campus dates are January 17-23, 2010; March 21-27, 2010; and May 16-21, 2010. 
For details about the application process, fees, and travel reimbursement, please contact William A. Anderson, Ph.D., Fellowship Program Director, at [email protected] or at (517) 353-9656, Ext. 230.
Ning: Do-It-Yourself Social Networks
Do you spend any amount of time in Facebook and MySpace? Even if you don't, today's students are spending countless hours and interacting in these sites. Many faculty who have tried to participate in these social networks with their students have discovered that often this action can be seen (by students) as an intrusion into their private domain.
For faculty who have considered or are considering establishing and stimulating ongoing online communication with students on educational topics of interest to the faculty or related to the courses they currently teach, Ning can offer a valid alternative to Facebook and MySpace for creating a learning community, interacting and augmenting instruction with students beyond the classroom.
What is Ning?
Ning is a social networking online service that allows users to create their own social networks for free and join and participate in other networks. New users can create their network in very little time, with no technical skills required. 
As a creator of a Ning social network you can determine the site's appearance and functionality, as well as whether the site is public or private (join by invitation only). Ning's personalization and privacy settings allow the creator of the network to designate who is and is not able to participate in their social network. Although not created specifically for educational use, the levels of personalization and privacy settings integrated in the platform have allowed Ning to be used successfully in education, where other popular social networking sites have received at times intense backlash from schools concerned that students will misuse them during what is supposed to be instructional time.

 Here are some facts to consider. Social networks:
  • can be interactive, stimulating and fun.
  • encourage personal interactions.
  • are simple to set up and use.
  • offer a range of communications possibillities.
  • create a learning community.
Ning offers the same communication possibilities (chat, photos, videos, groups) as MySpace and Facebook do, but has some special characteristics that make it more appealing to the education community:
  • Ning's social networks can be created and developed around a focus, a purpose.
  • Its interface is cleaner, less hectic.
  • Site creation, customization and administration features are easy to set up and manage.
  • It has multiple security options.
If you are wondering how you could leverage Ning as an online social network for education, consider these points. Ning:
  • can be used to brainstorm, frame issues, reflect and share information.
  • provides a platform for collective learning (instructor-student, student-student).
  • can facilitate the creation and strenghtening of bonds among faculty, students and peers.
  • can make course content available on demand.
  • can be used to communicate messages instantly to all members in the network.
Using a social networking site requires some planning on your part to make sure that you are organized, have realistic goals and objectives as well as strategies for communicating with your target audience, and follow up to sustain user interest. This planning information is important and will be the basis for determining the technology platform that best suits your needs.
For more information about uses of Ning or other Web 2.0 tools in your course, or if you have an idea, need help or want feedback on a project, please contact Geraud Plantegenest at [email protected]  
To find out more about B-CLR (free) consultation services to CHM faculty, please visit:

Ning and other Web 2.0 tools will be discussed in the upcoming faculty development seminar offered by OMERAD on November 3. For more information, please visit
CHM Program Evaluation
Evaluating Educational Programs: A Planning Tool 

Have you ever wanted to evaluate a course or program but were not sure how to do it? If you answered yes, then OMERAD has resources that can help.
OMERAD has created a web-based tutorial called Evaluating Educational Programs: A Planning Tool. This online tutorial will guide you through the six steps to developing an evaluation plan for your program or course. After completing these steps you will have a plan that summarizes all the important components of your evaluation in an organized structure.
The six steps are:
STEP 1: State the Program Goal
STEP 2: State the Program Objectives
STEP 3: Write the Program Description
STEP 4: List the Program Evaluation Questions
STEP 5: List the Sources of Evaluation Data
STEP 6: Describe the Methods of Data Collection

The Evaluating Educational Programs: A Planning Tool online tutorial provides step-by-step guidance, a tool to help you plan your evaluation, and resources for additional help.
Resources Menu
Each page provides a resources menu at the right containing hyperlinked items such as examples, related websites, illustrations and explanations. The resources are context sensitive, so they will provide additional information relevant to the section of the tutorial you are viewing.
Evaluation Planning Tool
The Evaluation Planning Tool that accompanies this tutorial is a table with six columns, one for each step. You can download this tool from the Resources column on every page. You may print this tool and fill it out by hand or complete and enter text into the electronic version and save it.
Developed by the Office of Medical Education Research and Development (OMERAD) at Michigan State University for a grant from the Office of Research Integrity.
See the program evaluation tutorial at:
Faculty Development 
Making Lecture Slides Easier to Read
 One of the reasons students complain about lectures is that the slides are too crowded, making them difficult to read. Here are some simple guidelines for making slides easier to read.
The basic principles of designing effective slides are: unclutter, enlarge and use color.
To unclutter a slide, first remove any irrelevant text or visuals. If you feel that everything on the slide is essential, divide the content to fit onto several slides. If you have a complex image that cannot be divided, consider showing a simplified version of the image first and explain that part. Then on the next slide show an overlay that adds to the complexity of the image and explain that part. Continue until the entire image is on the screen.
Use bullets to organize and unclutter text. Rather than putting complete sentences on the slide, use summary phrases with bullets in front of them. One way to do this is:

1. Put everything onto a slide that you want to say for that slide.
2. Copy that text into the PowerPoint Notes Page for that slide.
3. Revise the sentences on the slide into summaries.
4. Put bullets in front of each summary.
When presenting your lecture, refer to the Notes Page. In this way you will add content to the summarized text on the slide. This not only helps unclutter the slide, but does away with the perennial student complaint of faculty reading the slides word-for-word!
When uncluttering text on a slide, remember the "Principle of 7s":
-  no more than 7 words per line
-  no more than 7 lines per slide
When you unclutter a slide, you have room to enlarge the slide elements (text, images, tables and charts). Depending on the size of the lecture room, use as a minimum 24-point type for the body of the slide and 32-point for titles. Better is 32-point for the body text and 44-point for titles.
Use simple fonts such as a sans serif font (Arial, Calibri) for titles and serif fonts (Times New Roman) for body text. Script fonts may look good on your computer screen but are often illegible when enlarged onto a room screen.
Use Color
Font and background colors should contrast strongly with each other. If you are presenting in a dark room, light letters on a dark background are often easier to read. On the other hand, in rooms with some light, dark letters on a light background work better.
Do not use more than two or three colors per slide. Be consistent about the use of colors, such as using the same color on each slide for the title.
Use a simple background with few design elements in it. Design elements can be a photo in the corner, a line under the title, waves in the background. Sometimes design elements take up valuable slide real estate and end up cluttering the slide, or make it more difficult to read the text. On the other hand, visuals add interest to a slide, but if you include an image, use an image relevant to the topic.
If you follow the principles of Unclutter, Enlarge and Use Color your slides will be easier to read and there may be fewer complaints from your students. These are only guidelines. Do what works for you and your lecture topic. For more information on slide design, see:
10 Slide Design Tips for Producing Powerful and Effective Presentations, by Garr Reynolds.
In This Issue
CHM Program Evaluation
Faculty Development
Hot Off the Press
Student Utilization of Digital Versions of Classroom Lectures
Kathryn Lovell, Ph.D.
Geraud Plantegenest, M.A.
If you woud like to receive a full PDF version of the paper, please send an email to Dr. Kathryn Lovell at  [email protected], or Geraud Plantegenest at [email protected] 
A Medical Education listserv maintained by OMERAD.

MEO is a forum for disseminating information on education physicians and other health professionals.
Medical Education Scholarship Group
Meets 1st Wednesday of each month in room A216 East Fee Hall from 1:30pm-3:00pm

For questions about this group contact Brian Mavis: [email protected]

Contact  Us
For questions about this newsletter, please
contact us at:

[email protected] 
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The Office of Medical Education Research and Development is a unit within the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University.Its mission is to improve medical education and related service programs through evaluation and research consultation, relevant instruction, and programs of faculty development.
Established in 1966, OMERAD is the oldest continuously operating office of medical education in the United States.

A-202 East Fee Hall
East Lansing, Michigan 48824