At Queen’s University and in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), technology is deeply embedded in all aspects of the educational experience. Students, faculty and staff access their curriculum and their timetables online, and engage with each other in virtual settings. In most areas of FHS, it is the Elentra platform that makes this all possible.
First commissioned in 2004, Elentra’s purpose was to organize data around the stringent requirements for the Queen’s School of Medicine’s accreditation process, and to create a centralized location for students to easily access up-to-date schedules and educational resources. In 2008, Queen’s launched a consortium to allow for collaboration on the development of Elentra with other institutions. Today the consortium is comprised of 20 schools in Canada, the United States and Singapore. Over the last 17 years, the work of staff and faculty members at Queen’s and other institutions has allowed Elentra to develop into an innovative platform, which now supports health professional education around the world.
One of the Faculty of Health Science’s key strategic decisions came in 2016, when a commitment was made to significantly expand the functionality of Elentra, understanding that the platform would play a critical role in the implementation of Competency Based Medical Education (CBME), a framework adopted by all Canadian medical schools that was mandated by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The Queen’s School of Medicine successfully launched all of its specialty programs under this framework in 2017 using Elentra, a huge achievement. Almost four years later, ours is still the only Canadian medical school to have adopted CBME for all of its specialties.
By 2018, as news spread of Elentra’s outstanding design and functionality, FHS started to receive inquiries from institutions that weren’t interested in participating in the consortium, however, that were interested in using Elentra for their programs. The decision was made to respond to the demand by adapting Elentra to allow for a “hosted cloud service” option to take advantage of the wave of demand. In 2019 and 2020, 10 institutions signed on to Elentra Cloud, pushing Elentra’s total global user base to 30 institutions.
In response to this dramatic growth, Queen’s University and FHS knew that it was time for the Elentra Cloud to stand on its own. On February 1st, 2021, Elentra officially launched as a separate legal entity, resulting in the first-ever Queen’s-owned corporation.
“Seeing the result of almost two decades of hard work within the Faculty of Health Sciences materialize into a product so impressive that a company can be formed around it is really inspiring,” says Leslie Flynn, Vice-Dean Education, FHS. “Institutions and students from across the world will benefit from this platform, and that should be a huge point of pride for the Queen’s community.”
One of the unique features of Elentra, and something that has made it stand apart from the competition, is its collaboration-based Consortium model. “The problem that we were initially tasked with solving was two-fold, addressing accreditation requirements and improving the student experience by giving the learners access to all of their resources in one place,” says Matt Simpson, IT Director for the Faculty of Health Sciences, who was part of the original team that developed Elentra. “The solution that our team came up with was a collaboration across multiple institutions to accelerate the development of the platform. This proved to be crucial to our success because it provided us with enormous development capacity that would not otherwise be feasible for any one individual University to achieve.”
"Transitioning to an independent corporation will allow Elentra to become more agile and responsive. We are excited to continue to help drive innovation within the Elentra platform", says Andrew Dos-Santos, Elentra's President and CEO. "Our team has a deep understanding of the needs of health professions programs – we live and breathe this and are passionate about this space. Universities often struggle to develop and mature software, so the fact that we have been able to create something so impressive that institutions are lining up to use is something I am very proud of.”
Going forward, the Faculty of Health Sciences, the Elentra Consortium and Elentra Corp will work collaboratively on new features and functionality to ensure that Elentra becomes the leading platform globally for the delivery of health professional education.
“I am really proud of the team at FHS that has worked so hard to bring Elentra to where it is today,” says Jane Philpott, Dean, FHS. “The launch of Elentra Corp is an exciting new step that will allow Elentra to accelerate its mandate to serve health professions education around the world. My sincere congratulations to everyone at Queen’s who played a part in Elentra’s success.”
This story originally appeared on the Faculty of Health Sciences website.