Going beyond course design: how the CTLT helped IPCC instructors focus on the essential

You are a member of the Faculty of Medicine working for the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, when one of the worst health crises in recent memories hits and transforms how you live, work and teach — seemingly overnight. Then, in the fall of 2020, you are tasked with updating the content of your professional program on infection control and expanding your cohort to accommodate the situation. Your certificate program starts in January 2021. What do you do?

While it would be easy to give in to uncertainty and stress, 13 clinical faculty members and two learning designers from the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) got to work.


Scaling up resources with the community in mind

The Infection Prevention and Control Certificate (IPCC) program is a continuing education certificate designed to meet the educational needs of frontline healthcare professionals who are already in, or those who are considering, a career in the field of infection control. This past year, not only did the program need to accommodate 48 students — compared to 15 to 18 on average — but also factor in an ongoing health crisis. Jong Wook Kim, program assistant in the IPCC program, remembers, “due to COVID-19, our instructors, who are also doctors, were in the middle of a battle. When an outbreak would occur in their hospitals, they would have to deal with it first and foremost, while also teaching their classes. It was a very overwhelming experience at first, especially since they had to care for three times more students than usual, most of them being healthcare professionals themselves.”

The solution they found was to bring more instructors in and reach out to the CTLT for help with course adaptation.


The IPC Certificate is a popular program that combines case-based interactive format and flexible courses offered to working professionals and adult learners.

Since the IPCC was already an online program by design, most of this work revolved around scaling the technology used in the course. As CTLT learning designer Jocelyn Micallef recalls, “most of the updates we worked on were around discussion group activities and figuring out ways to design them so that, even with a larger group of students involved, there was still this sense of community that the certificate is known for.”


Problem solving for instructors

Revising and updating the content and activities was essential, but stopping there would not tell the whole story. From initial meetings with the instructors until the course commenced in January 2021, availability, flexibility and compassion were key factors in the collaboration. “It was a very busy time for everybody, so doing our best to be available and flexible with our schedule and timeline was important,” says Jocelyn, who collaborated with CTLT educational consultant Marie Krbavac on the project. “We had to react quickly, but we were up for the challenge!”

Jong notes that this can-do attitude from the CTLT did not go unnoticed, and was very appreciated by the pathology department. “Every time we would meet, they always had new ideas and suggestions for the project. They were always in a mood of ‘What do you need? What can we do to help?’ based on the situation, which was amazing.”

By handling the technical and course design heavy lifting, the course instructors were free to focus on the essential: their patients and their students. “We received nothing but positive feedback on the resources developed,” affirms Jong, “the results speak for themselves.”


When teamwork wins the day and praises

While discussing the project, Jocelyn and Jong had nothing but gratitude, both toward each other, the other learning designers and instructors, and for the opportunity to be involved in such an important program. As Jocelyn points out, she “is just very happy and grateful to be in a position where I can provide support and be of help, whatever it looks like. The instructors are doing very important work for providing this education to folks in the program given the global context, and Jong has been doing a great job in taking care of all the requests that have come up since the program started.”

For Jong, “knowing that you can get in touch with the CTLT for any issue is very reassuring. We are all very glad for their help.”

This appreciation for all this teamwork extends to instructors and students who benefit from this teamwork since January. “With Jocelyn’s enthusiasm and superb guidance in interface technology and effective learning methods, we were able to adapt and manage increased interest while offering high quality content to our students. We look forward to an ongoing partnership with the CTLT to deliver more exceptional educational experiences,” attest Dr. Aleksandra Stefanovic and Dr. Ghada Al-Rawahi, two of the IPCC program leaders.



With the May finish line in sight, Jong and the pathology and laboratory medicine department are already thinking about what is next for the program. “We are always looking for new opportunities to improve the certificate, and as they come, there is always a way to implement them into existing courses,” concludes Jong. Could expanding the reach of the program for a more general public be an idea? “That could be very useful,” he says. No matter what the future holds for the IPCC, all its members know that they can rely on the CTLT for support.

Next time you are tasked with a learning design challenge, what do you do? Take a deep breath, focus on the essential, and reach out to the CTLT.


Looking for support with your teaching?

The CTLT offers a wide range of support and services to the UBC teaching and learning community. From help with course design and delivery to technology-enhanced learning opportunities, get in touch with the CTLT today.