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Purpose: Develop a trans-disciplinary repository of genomics education resources using a Web-based learning management system. The repository maps and organizes genetic-genomic information and materials relevant to educators by healthcare discipline-specific competencies and performance indicators.
Methods: An interdisciplinary project team was established to guide toolkit repository building and usability testing. The toolkit was built using the X-CREDIT software on the Moodle learning management platform, which includes a mapping matrix and browsing function that captures teaching resources in a searchable database linked to competencies, knowledge areas, performance indicators, learning activities and resources, and outcome assessments. Discipline-specific advisory groups assisted in resource identification, competency mapping, and peer review. The toolkit is multidisciplinary, currently including physician assistants and nurses, and provides a resource crosslink to discipline-specific competencies. All resources have a detailed description, and users may contribute new resources, which are peer reviewed for relevance and accuracy by an editorial board. Alpha and beta testing using online usability surveys that included toolkit exercises helped refine the structure, look, and navigation of the final website.
Findings: One hundred thirty faculty—124 nursing and 6 physician assistant faculty—agreed to participate. Of those, 59 users (45.4% response rate) completed the online usability survey. Nearly all users (94.9%) were able to find a competency that was relevant to their topic, and 85.4% were able to locate the relevant performance indicators. The majority (86.5%) felt the model adequately described the relationships between competencies, performance indicators, learning activities-resources, and assessments, and made conceptual sense. Survey respondents reported font color and size made the information difficult to read, windows were not large enough, and the “shopping cart” concept was confusing; all of these areas have been modified for the final toolkit version.
Conclusions: Alpha and beta testing of the toolkit revealed that users can successfully obtain educational materials by searching competencies and performance indicators. The platform is accessible on the Internet at http://www.g-2-c-2.org and can be continually updated as new resources become available.
Clinical Relevance: Faculty members need easy access to a wide range of accurate, current resources to facilitate integration of genomics into the curriculum.
Advances are occurring rapidly in our knowledge of how genetic variation influences health and illness (Hunter, Khoury, & Drazen, 2008). Ongoing research and clinical translation of these findings has already moved beyond single gene disorders and expanded into genomics (Feero, Guttmacher, & Collins, 2010). Genomics refers to all genes in the human genome interacting together, with the environment, as well as with personal, psychosocial, and cultural factors (Guttmacher & Collins, 2002). The genome influences the entire healthcare continuum from prior to birth through the end of life. The direct applications of genomic discoveries to clinical care are occurring at an escalating rate. This is most evident in the diagnosis and treatment of single gene disorders: as of February 2011, GeneTests reported 597 laboratories testing for more than 2,200 diseases (GeneTests, 2011). Genome-informed healthcare applications related to common multifactorial conditions, cancer, and pharmacogenomics are increasingly becoming part of routine care. These advances have significant potential for improving health outcomes and have stimulated calls for integration of genomics into health professional continuing education and academic curricula.
Establishing genetics and genomic literacy among all healthcare disciplines is a crucial 21st century task. The translation of these discoveries into health care is hinged on an informed healthcare workforce that can discern when and how to best use genetic and genomic information, technology, and therapeutics. Yet until recently, many healthcare providers as well as educators have had little to no preparation in genomics (Harvey et al., 2007). For example, genomics was only integrated into the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Baccalaureate Essentials in 2008, which are used to establish accreditation standards used by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, one of two nursing program accrediting bodies (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2008). Consequently, educators are being challenged to become competent to prepare their students and other practitioners in genomics. To clarify what healthcare providers need to know, both the nursing and physician assistant communities have developed genetic and genomic competencies applicable to their disciplines (Jenkins & Calzone, 2007; Rackover et al., 2007). The primary care physician community has also begun a similar effort (Marshall, 2011). Regardless of the discipline, to facilitate education initiatives faculty members need access to resources that are accurate, current, and readily available to teach genomics. There are several major challenges facing educators, including a lack of financial resources, insufficient training to independently develop curricular materials, and poor access to materials developed by other healthcare disciplines. This article provides an overview of the Genetic/Genomic Competency Center for Education (G2C2), an interdisciplinary online education genetic-genomic resource toolkit (http://www.g-2-c-2.org) designed to help meet these needs.
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Although preliminary, analysis of the beta test data revealed some important findings. First, the mapping matrix appeared to be useful to educators. However, the survey respondents indicated resource information could be enhanced, and the appearance of the site required modifications for readability and clarity.
At this time, the mapping matrix is predicated on the existence of discipline-specific competencies and outcome indicators. Not all health professionals have developed genetic-genomic competencies. As such, educators from disciplines without established competencies may find the competency framework makes it more difficult to locate resources.
Despite this limitation, the G2C2 development process can be a useful model for other disciplines beyond nurses and physician assistants. As of this time, the genetic counseling profession is actively building their competency mapping matrix and selecting appropriate learning resources. With the ability to crosslink to other disciplines’ resources, the addition of the genetic counselors’ competency map will be especially valuable to educators interested in additional peer-reviewed genetic resources.
Sustainability of G2C2 is a critical priority. This includes not only maintaining the existing resources but continuing to populate the site with new resources as they become available. A G2C2 editorial board has been established to ensure that the materials in the toolkit are current, accurate, and of sufficient quality. Editorial board members consist of representatives from disciplines participating in the site. Members are responsible for peer review of new educational resources and assessment materials submitted to G2C2 for consideration of inclusion on the site; they will also conduct periodic evaluation of materials already in the repository to ensure that materials are up to date and accurate.
Next steps for G2C2 are to expand the scope of the information provided for a given resource, including offering the opportunities for educators to rate a given resource they have used. In addition, with the existence of the G2C2 editorial board, an active solicitation of new genetic-genomic educational resources and assessments is planned. As ongoing evaluations indicate ways to improve G2C2's look and function, modifications will be made to improve site usability and efficiency. Continued development and expansion of G2C2 for other disciplines will also be explored as the relevancy of genetic-genomic education expands. The genetic counseling discipline is going through the process to peer-review and upload their resources. Regardless of which disciplines opt to participate in G2C2, any individual from any discipline can access G2C2 at no cost, and search and upload genetic-genomic education resources for their own use.