Success under extreme circumstances

AO Spine earns high praise for its AO Davos Courses 2020 events

25 January 2021

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic raging worldwide during the first week of December 2020, AO Spine clearly demonstrated during the AO Davos Courses 2020 why it continues to be the premier knowledge provider in spine surgery and at the forefront of education and research.

The clinical division delivered three highly engaging educational events—all featuring self-directed asynchronous learning and a synchronous, live event during the first-ever fully online AO Davos Courses:

  • AO Spine Online Course—Adult Deformity
  • AO Spine Online Course—Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) in Degenerative Spine Conditions and Spine Trauma
  • AO Spine Online Course—Endoscopy

The three AO Spine courses attracted more than 60 participants from across Asia Pacific, Europe and Southern Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Northern Africa, and North America, and inspired rave reviews from faculty and learners.

‘Live event was icing on the cake’

Osaretin O Ugbo, a consultant orthopedic and spine surgeon in Nigeria, took part in the endoscopy course.

“I had planned to commence endoscopic spine surgeries and was looking for a course that could give me a strong foundation of principles and practical tips. The travel restriction from the pandemic was a significant impediment to available options. After going through the AO Spine endoscopy course, I was convinced that it was just the right course I needed,” he explained, adding that his AO Davos Courses 2020 experience proved that he made the right choice.

“The weekly learning materials together with a blend of highly experienced, friendly faculty, and participants at various levels of the spine endoscopy learning curve created a unique learning discussion platform for six weeks before the live event. The simplification of each procedure into well-defined phases combined with numerous practical tips from faculty was a special highlight,” Ugbo said. “The live event was the icing on the cake.”

‘The AO did a fantastic job’

Prarthan Amin, an orthopedic surgeon in Gujarat, India, took part in the MISS course, relished what he called a “powerful way of learning” as well as the opportunity to interact with and learn from the best.

The faculty “was very good in guiding us to think about the nuances of the case[s] and covering small intricacies in each case as well. At the end of the four rigorous days of brainstorming…I woke up the next day feeling saddened that I will not be able to have discussions on cases with my friends,” he said, referring to course faculty members as newfound buddies. “I also made some really good friends [in] my fellow participants as well.”

Amin was equally impressed by the AO’s virtual online educational platform.

“The AO did a fantastic job in making the entire conference experience into a virtual environment, which I believe is very difficult to implement properly. I got access to high level publications at the virtual library at the AO virtual library [and] access to some really great talks on AO TV. The discussion about leadership in surgery in the networking lounge was also highly motivating and influencing!” he said. “I had a fantastic time at the AO Davos 2020, and never for a second did I feel disconnected from the event, even though it was a virtual one.”

A unique and excellent learning opportunity

Like the participants, AO Spine faculty for the AO Davos Courses 2020 could not have been more pleased with the event.

Emre Acaroğlu, course director for the AO Spine courses at the AO Davos Courses 2020, is delighted with the very high level of satisfaction from participants as well as the faculty.

"Despite not being able to come together and learn in the unique environment of Davos, all feedback from participants and outcome measures suggest that this year's courses provided a unique and excellent opportunity for learning with several weeks of intensive participant–faculty interaction,” he said. “I am particularly impressed with the overall experience and the commitment of our faculty and participants."

“Limited by the pandemic, we have evolved a lot in the concept of online education. In the end we were able to learn and teach in an extremely interactive environment where the proximity between participants and faculty was the greatest, I have ever observed. The future has come sooner than we might have expected,” said Luiz Gustavo, educational adviser for the AO Spine Online Course—Adult Deformity.
“The online AO Davos Courses 2020 were a wonderful opportunity for us not to give up despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. This paradigm shift enabled us to meet no matter where we are in the world. We experienced the positive features of online education,” added Alpaslan Senkoylu, cochairperson, AO Spine Online Course—Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) in Degenerative Spine Conditions and Spine Trauma.
John C France, cochairperson for the MISS course, agreed.

“The Davos spine courses were undertaken during a challenging time in the world for continuing education. It was proven that with persistence, dedication, and desire, that the AO can excel as the educational leader in spine even under the toughest of circumstances,” France said. “The courses offered an excellent opportunity for interactive learning and proved that it can be accomplished even under extreme conditions.”

Atiq Uz-Zaman, Pakistan, educational advisor for the endoscopy, said AO Spine’s offering at the AO Davos Courses gave both faculty and participants a glimpse of the future of education.

“Online learning was an excellent learning tool, but the present COVID-19 wave made it a necessity. The AO Davos Courses experience revealed outstanding outcomes and benefits of this learning method,” he said. “We learned that learning is effective when learners and mentors are active. Online learning is a wise investment and the future of education.”

To learn more about upcoming AO Spine courses and events, visit

https://aospine.aofoundation.org/education/courses-events



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