Online programmes are required to facilitate 4 student-staff committees per academic year. As students are often scattered across the UK there is a need to find alternative ways to replace the traditional face to face committees. The eLearning team that supports the Clinical Research, Oncology and Palliative Care and Clinical and Health Sciences programmes have been looking for new ways to engage students in the process.
Finding a format which would encourage distance learners to participate in virtual student staff committee meetings has been challenging. When setting up a discussion board on Blackboard for each committee was unsuccessful, with the help of an ERDP Development Grant, we decided to trial the commercially available VoiceThread. VoiceThread offered an aesthetically appealing and interactive forum for students with options to communicate via video, text or voice messaging.
Once we started to test the system we ran into a few issues, the key one being students needed to create an account to be able to log in and post on the forums. This made the system much less student friendly.
We decided to trial a free system called Padlet. It has similar features to VoiceThread but the students don’t need to log in and it can be embedded into Blackboard. It looks aesthetically pleasing, and it has encouraged more participation than we’d had previously. We think this might be because the posts are anonymous.
However, we still found that the majority of feedback was given to Course Reps via email, and Padlet was only used for the first SSC.
Once the 2017/18 modules are finished, we will look into trialling a new process for the virtual meetings.
Jenny Yeo, Degree Programme Director, MSc Clinical and Health Sciences and Clinical Research (elearning) programmes
Victoria Petrie, Programme Coordinator
Gemma Todd, eLearning Administrator