Putting Learning into Practice – Elias Villarreal

Name: Elias Villarreal, Jr., DMSc, MPAS, PA-C

Title:  Associate Dean & Founding Program Director

Program: University of California – San Diego

Program URL: https://medschool.ucsd.edu/education/pa-education

What PAEA learning activity did you attend and when? Creating an Impact with Learning Elements: A Coffee Chat with Brian Washburn (June 2022)

Would you recommend this learning activity to other members and, if so, why? Reflecting back on all of the coffee chats I have attended, Brian Washburn’s “What’s Your Formula?” stuck with me the most. As a lifelong science and technology geek, I found his periodic table of Elements of Amazing Learning Experiences to be creative and, most important for me, organized. I’m the guy that stores things in a box inside a box, inside a bigger box sealed in a Ziplock baggie, so the structure of his process and his book was within my grasp and sparked my interest. After 25 years in PA education full-time and a couple of doctorates in education, I’m not easily entertained or engaged by mundane pedagogical variations on the same theme. This, however, gave me cause to pause and reflect on the genius of his categorizations; i.e., gas-like elements, interactive elements, solid elements, radioactive elements, etc. I have seen so many of these types of charts related to educational technology and Bloom’s taxonomy, but I’d never seen anything with this focus, and I was unfamiliar with the author’s book. I highly recommend this Coffee Chat recording and the book itself. He provides some free online resources referencing his table of elements in the chat as well.

What was your biggest takeaway/”aha” moment? As a program director, I always ponder, “How can I get this complicated alphabet soup of curriculum tools, teaching strategies, deliverables, pedagogy, and learning theories and their intersections across faculty who work on my team?” AHA…BAM… (tongue pop)…the periodic table of Elements of Amazing Learning Experiences!

Tell us about what you have put into practice because of this learning activity. I’m developing a new program at UC San Diego. I’m hiring! Key amongst my goals is to ensure that faculty development is never skimped on, short-changed, or held hostage by budgets. Onboarding faculty should include key artifacts that engage faculty members’ interest and open their eyes to new ways of seeing, teaching, learning, and assessing. One of these key artifacts is Bryan Washburn’s “What’s Your Formula?” along with the free online resources. It will be a welcome addition to an already stellar collection of onboarding artifacts in my toolkit.

Note: A recording of this coffee chat session with Brian Washburn is available to PAEA members in the Digital Learning Hub along with other recordings from the spring 2022 Teaching Strategies Coffee Chat series.

This article is part of the Putting Learning into Practice article series. We love to feature how our members are taking what they have learned through the professional development opportunities offered by PAEA and applying it to practice. Interested in being featured? Submit your Member Story on the PAEA website.