Maple League Funding Spotlight – Interactive Online Concussion Education Tool

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

Principal Investigator: Dr. Colin King (Acadia), Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Loriann Hynes (York) Co-Investigators: Tara Sutherland (St. FX), Jocelyn Dowling (Mount Allison), Katrina Lambert (Bishop’s), Curtis Arsenault (Acadia) In early September 2019 at a series of town halls, the Maple League launched four new funding opportunities to promote and facilitate collaborative research, innovative teaching, spring and international field study programs, and travel amongst our four campuses. We are delighted to share, in a series called the Maple League Funding Spotlight, the funded projects for 2019 – 2020. We had a chance to sit down with Dr. Colin King from Acadia University to talk about his project and learn more about collaboration across the four universities. JESSICA RIDDELL (EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE MAPLE LEAGUE): The guiding question that animates all our Maple League collaborations is: “What can we do together that we cannot do on our own?” How does this resonate with the project you’ve undertaken? COLIN KING, PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR (ACADIA UNIVERSITY): This collaborative approach will allow us to take advantage of the expertise and experiences of certified professionals who have seen many concussive injuries in diverse settings and mobilize that knowledge across institutions. Concussions are so individualized that it is difficult to summarize all the findings into textbook definitions and examples. Therefore, allowing these professionals to add their unique experiences to create authentic scenarios will ultimately enhance student learning across all Maple League institutions. Each individual therapist from our research team can bring their own unique examples to create scenarios that can provide students from across the Maple League with more diverse learning experiences than they would traditionally receive at their own institution. The main anticipated outcome of this project is the development of an interactive online pedagogical tool that will enrich student learning. Such a tool as the potential to have a profound impact on competence development as students will have access to contextually authentic scenarios that will prepare them for their experiential learning opportunities while working with varsity teams. During traditional simulated practice, it is often difficult to create realistic experiences for the students (e.g. it is difficult to simulate abnormal pupil responses) to prepare them for what they will face in real life situations. This interactive tool will integrate various technologies in an attempt to create more realistic simulated experiences for the students. JR: Maple League universities endeavor to individualize undergraduate education with a holistic approach to learning within the classroom and beyond. How does your work benefit from working and learning in relationship-rich environments? CK: Our approach to this research project is to create a community of practice of athletic therapists to create contextually authentic concussion scenarios for all students to learn from. All of the individuals involved in this project are already involved in “non-traditional” learning at each Maple League Institution. All therapists already oversee a group of student assistants who complete additional learning experiences outside of the traditional classroom setting while working with different varsity teams. This project will help to mobilize knowledge across institutions by sharing experiences and complicated situations throughout the Maple League. As a more tangible example, we want to engage students within the interactive tool to stimulate further critical thinking about what they would do if faced with a similar situation in real life. For example, asking the student how would they respond to a coach questioning their decision to sit an athlete with a potential concussion? Or how they would respond to a parent question about a common concussion myth? These types of critical thinking questions are not often covered in traditional concussion lectures/resources but are situations which the students will find themselves in on a constant basis. Therefore, we want to create authentic learning experiences for the students so that they are engaging in realistic scenarios, based on the collaborative experiences of Certified Athletic Therapists throughout the Maple League. JR: What kind of impact do you hope to have – on your own work, on institutional cultures, or beyond the academy – with your project? CK: The ultimate goal of this project is to develop an effective interactive tool that benefits student learning. So the next steps after developing the tool will be to explore the impact of the tool on student performance and competence through future projects. Even though this tool will be developed for athletic therapy students, we believe that the content and types of questions can be applicable to other similar professions who also work within sporting environments (e.g. sport medicine physicians, sport physiotherapists). Many education programs within the health professions focus on quizzing students about concussion knowledge but do not engage the students in specific activities required to demonstrate competence in these areas. So this tool has the potential to be used in other health professional programs outside of the Maple League. JR: Can you share any advice to others who might be interested in collaborating across institutions? CK: Our project involves collaborators from across the Maple League that are not in “traditional” academic or research positions. But these individuals have so much to offer to our research project. And these individuals were excited to join this venture even that it is not “part of their job”. So a piece of advice would be to really focus on the goals of a research project and to identify and recruit experts who can make significant contributions to the success of the project. And it does not always need to be someone who is actively engaged in research or someone who holds an academic position at an institution. Interested in learning more? Here is a brief description of the project: The purpose of this project is to design an interactive online educational tool that engages aspiring health professional students in realistic concussion assessment and management scenarios. These scenarios will integrate the knowledge and practical skills required to effectively recognize, assess, and manage concussions in different sport settings. All scenarios will be created by experts in the field to ensure that they are representative of the many challenges that can occur when trying to assess and manage a concussion during real life situations. Many educational tools and text-based scenarios neglect this important aspect, which forces students to make assumptions about the situation being described and question what they are actually being asked to describe/perform during an educational activity. This project will involve the collaboration of Head Athletic Therapists from each of the Maple League institutions who also oversee undergraduate students who assist with varsity teams at each institution. These students are provided with unique experiential learning opportunities by learning about injury recognition, assessment, and management in diverse settings outside of the traditional classroom experience. To avoid dangerous complications that can arise from ineffective concussion care, it is imperative for all students to be aware of the most recent evidence-based concussion assessment and management recommendations. This interactive educational tool will help athletic therapists to work together to share experiences and scenarios with all other Maple League institutions, therefore enhancing student learning, development, and competence at each school. Contact us: For more information about this project, contact Principal Investigator Dr. Colin King at colin.king@acadiau.ca. For more information on funding opportunities, visit: http://mapleleague.ca/about/funding-opportunities/

Fund Name

Available Funding

Awarding Committee

Online Learning/Ideas-Based

Course Fund

$25,000

The Maple League Academic Committee

Spring Institutes & International

Field Studies Fund

$10,000

​The Maple League Academic Committee

Innovative Pedagogies Fund

$10,000

The Maple League Teaching & Learning Centre (MLTLC)

Maple League Research Fund

$30,000

The Maple League Research Committee



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