Evidence and success – The eSmall Group Story

Pegasus Team

In 2020, Louise Kennedy, Kaiwhakahaere, and the Clinical Quality and Education Team, responded quickly to the COVID-19 lockdown in ensuring that Small Group education could continue for clinicians. The result was eSmall Group, a new approach to online learning.

“In our team, we always look for evidence. The first thing we did was have a conversation with Susan [Bidwell] and I said, ‘right… if we’re going online, what do we need to do?’”

Susan’s research turned up three key principles that would inform the
development of eSmall Groups:

  1. Group online learning must be interactive and real time due to the complex issues that are discussed.
  2. The technology and the attendees must be supported so that people are not
    demotivated by access problems.
  3. Resources must be available to attendees after the fact and ongoing.

Added to this, was Louise’s own mantra: Keep it simple – Keep it Small Group.

“We didn’t change. We didn’t become a webinar. Yes, we took our learning into an online meeting, but we replicated an in-person meeting online. We were really clear about what small group is and what it needs to be successful.”

“Overall, people were so grateful that we kept going when so many things stopped,” shares Susan.

The success of the eSmall Group Programme is reflected in the attendance numbers for 2021.
While, in theory, some groups returned to in-person meetings and some remained online, Louise predicts over half of all Small Group education has been delivered online this year.

“We can see by what was evidenced with the lockdowns in August, that our effort last year has paid dividends. We were able to continue the Small group programme.

“Our attendance numbers this year have been very stable. They haven’t dropped when we’ve had to go online, which is fantastic.”

This year, the CQE team have also launched a Learning Management System.
“We’ve had a website that’s been developed which has the Zoom links and it’s much easier. It’s also a repository for our materials which goes back to the research Susan did.”

And what are the plans for eSmall Groups in 2022 and beyond?
“We do hope to bring back in-person Small Group meetings but will still offer eSmall Groups, that way we can offer a choice for our primary care colleagues, and make the programme more accessible.”

“Next year might be different under a vaccine passport scenario, who knows? We just adapt again.”

They’ve also submitted a paper to the Journal of Primary Health Care that they’re hoping will be published next year.

“Part of the reason that we went down the route of writing it up and seeking publication was there’s a lot of research about undergrad type settings, but not in continued development of health professionals. It’s completely different. There wasn’t a lot out there about the eSmall Group style of online learning where it happens in real time and it was dependent upon
reflective discussion for learning and change.”

Read the full December newsletter.