Professor’s Surgery 101 podcasts are
a huge hit
type “surgery 101” into a Google search and
at least the first 10 results that appear relate
to Professor Jonathan White’s Surgery 101
podcasts. It’s a testament to the worldwide
popularity of the online tutorials, which
collectively have been downloaded more
than 1. 2 million times in 175 countries.
Dr. White, who holds the University of
Alberta’s Tom Williams Endowed Chair in
Surgical Education, created the
first audio podcasts
in 2008 with his
then senior resident Parveen Boora. The idea was to create
a simple study aid for their surgical students.
Dr. White posted the first few episodes
online and then basically forgot about them.
Months later, when he received an email
from Australia asking about future episodes,
he decided to check the stats: the podcasts
were being downloaded about 50 times a
day, with no marketing or advertising.
Encouraged, he and his team began to
produce additional episodes. Now, 130 au-
dio podcasts are available for free download
at the website surgery101.org or on iTunes.
Users can also sign up to receive bonus con-
tent, including surgical notes, for a yearly fee
of $4.99. His efforts earned him the Pro-
vost’s Award for Excellence in Undergradu-
ate Education in 2010, and just this past
February he was named a 2014 3M National
Impressive, but “we’re really only getting
started,” says Dr. White. Last summer, with the
help of two film students from the Northern
Alberta Institute of Technology, he developed
a number of video-based projects. The first,
called “Muppet Surgery,” was posted online
“Initially we thought we’d do something
like ‘Operations 101’ [in a live operating
theatre], but once we got the film students
involved, it took a different turn,” he says.
“We started talking about narratives and
storytelling, and how you make it not just
informative but immersive, too.
“I was worried about the whole thing,
but the Muppets were a hit,” he says. The
team has also produced several episodes of
stop-motion animation using Lego charac-
ters. “I’m 45 and here I am playing with Lego
and Muppets,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Dr. White is not concerned about run-
ning out of ideas for episodes. “There’s an
enormous amount of stuff we haven’t cov-
ered yet.” The time commitment, though, is
an issue. “I’d love to be able to hand it off to
somebody else. The problem is I still want to
have control over it because it’s kind of my
baby,” he says. “I’m going to have to stop do-
ing this eventually, but I’m not at that point
yet.” – léo charbonneau
Scavenger hunt promotes Ontario research
a virtual scavenger hunt was held during
the month of February, inviting the public
to get a taste of the diverse research projects
under way at Ontario’s 21 publicly funded
universities. “Most people probably don’t
even know what’s going on and it’s exciting
stuff,” says Abby Goodrum, vice-president,
research, at Wilfrid Laurier University and
chair of the committee for Research Matters,
a public awareness campaign organized by
the Council of Ontario Universities.
Each weekday in February on COU’s Research Matters website, a new video clue from
one of the 21 universities was released that
discussed a specific researcher and their current project, says Stacy Costa, the fourth-year
anthropology and semiotics student at the
University of Toronto who created the contest.
Using the video, that particular university’s
website and a bit of deduction, players could
unlock a code word each day that would complete a final phrase at the end of the month.
Contestants could win daily and grand prizes,
including five $500 cash prizes reserved for
student participants. When choosing researchers to be featured in the puzzle, Ms. Costa said,
she picked people who were doing unique
work that anybody, not just other researchers,
could relate to.– cassandra hendry
“I’m 45 and here I am
playing with Lego and
Muppets. It’s a lot of fun.”
Michael Ignatieff, professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs
at the University of Toronto and former Liberal Party of Canada
leader, quoted from his book, Fire and Ashes: Success and
Failure in Politics.
I had never been so well-dressed in my life
and had never felt so hollow. “ “
Surgery 101, now with Muppets!