As part of our Humanising the Online Experience webinar, we suggested the use of name selectors to take the decision-making out of selecting a student to answer a question. We recommend you use this only when you have gotten to know your students well enough to know how they respond to being asked questions by name. Using a randomiser tool can also reduce the feeling that the teacher is ‘picking on’ a particular student too often – both for the teacher and the students!
There are a lot of online tools available, such as:
The slight hitch with using these is that they are not reusable – you need to paste the names in every session.
It’s possible to create one of these yourself using Excel, which you can then save and re-use for the class time and again. A 2-minute tutorial for this, and an example file, is available on the FMS TEL Canvas Community. If you haven’t got access to that community in your Canvas yet, first enroll here.
Of course, you can use these tools for more than just selecting names. You could use this to randomly assign cases for students to study, or assign group roles. You can use them to generate lists of anything in a random order by noting outcomes.
During icebreaker games or other tasks, you may want to try a heads-or-tails or dice-roll randomiser, and there are many other randomising tools available on Random.org.
Guest post by Sue Campbell from the FMS Graduate School, Module Leader for ONC8024: Chemotherapy Nurse Training.
In December 2020, we were informed that Lancashire Health would be sending their Nursing students to study our course, which was due to start in February 2021. We had already seen an increase in our own numbers so with these additional students we were going to be expecting a much larger cohort than usual. The increase was in part due to the COVID situation and study leave cancellation in the NHS. We needed to investigate if the course structure would be suitable for 50 students instead of the usual 10-15 we had taught in previous years.
What did you do?
We reviewed each activity and imagined how it would work with 50 students. Activities that students completed on their own such as crosswords and quizzes were fine.
Our main concern were the collaborative wiki tasks – these are pages within Canvas, usually involving a table, that students completed together to create a resource. We wanted to keep these tasks as they encouraged teamwork, but the tasks were not suitable for 50 students to be able to contribute. After discussing the problem with others who have experience of working with larger cohorts we came up with a solution.
With help from the FMS TEL Team we were able to separate the students into groups of 10-15 students and provide each group with their own collaborative wiki task to complete. Once the course began we experienced registration issues so students were all starting at different times. We decided to adjust the groups so the late starting students would be in the same group and would not feel left behind.
“It’s about finding solutions you are not aware of; groups was a really quick and effective fix for what I envisioned to be a much larger problem.”
We wanted to keep the discussion tasks as they worked well in the past but would they work with large numbers? We went through each discussion task and made changes.
Where we had previously asked students to discuss three points, we changed so students could choose one discussion they could take part in but were able to view all discussions.
We decided to change the scenario discussions into branching activities instead. The questions asked in these discussions had only one right answer and were more of a fact checking exercise than something the students discussed. Students could complete the branching activities independently, so cohort size did not matter, but the objective of the task was still achieved. We also added a presentation to summarise the learning from the scenarios which replaced the interaction from the Module Leader that would have usually occurred on the discussion board at the end of the week.
Ask for advice – I spoke with the FMS TEL and Programme Teams and they provided several solutions I wasn’t aware of. I also spoke with our DPD, Victoria Hewitt for marking help
Consider running the module twice a year if numbers/demand remains too high to sustain within one cohort
Branching activities will work regardless of numbers so we can easily roll those over year after year now
Groups in Canvas is easy to turn on/off and adjust depending on numbers
What might you do differently next time?
We shall wait and see the student feedback but we are currently in week 5 of the course and so far it is going well and the group work is successful. Some things we are thinking about are:
We have a lot of activities, but they are now largely peer to peer or independent tasks so to bring back the teacher presence I would like to include more videos and presentations
We do provide a general Q&A discussion board, and for the rest of the course we are also introducing fortnightly, 10 minute 1:1 Q&A bookable slots via zoom for any students preferring a one-to-one discussion with the tutor.
I was able to present an instance of FMS Journal Club in February 2021, and chose to present the paper Medicine as a Community of Practice: Implications for Medical Education (Cruess, Cruess and Steinert, 2018).
“Communities of practice can guide the development of interventions to make medical education more effective and can help both learners and educators better cope with medical education’s complexity.”
Cruess, Cruess and Steinert, 2018
The paper suggests the framework of the Community of Practice (CoP) for activities in medical education, specifically, cultivating a sense of belonging and professional identity associated with that community.
The authors put forward a long list of recommendations as to how CoPs as a framework can be embedded. The area I was most interested in was that of helping people to join these communities, particularly in relation to forming professional identity.
One of the key elements is that of regular meaningful interactions. This goes beyond simple matters of curriculum, but also incorporates something of a pastoral side. As well as bolstering students’ confidence in their skills, these interactions help students to form their identities as aspiring professional practitioners.
While video conferencing software offers a fairly rich interactive experience, there are many non-synchronous tools that provide arenas for interaction as well. The tool chosen is not the most important part – the important part is the regular, high-quality authentic interactions that can be facilitated between students and others with more experienced positions within their communities of practice.
What does this look like in practice?
Explicit acknowledgement of the difficulties faced when building a professional identity
Regular engagement with online discussions / Q+A / chat rooms
Unstructured / less structured time for students and teachers to talk less formally
Engagement with formal mentoring processes
Encouragement for students to form supportive relationships with one another
The FMS TEL team are proud to present our upcoming Webinar – Humanising the Online Experience.
Thursday 11th March 9 am-10 am and 1 pm-2 pm GMT
Many of us – staff and students – have struggled with the feeling of losing the human connections we would normally have in face-to-face teaching spaces. This webinar concentrates on how to regain some of that connected feeling. The webinar will include plenty of examples and quick tips that can help reduce the awkwardness of teaching online. The webinar will cover the following:
Setting and maintaining expectations for online teaching and interactions.
How to make your synchronous sessions feel more like PiP interaction.
Simple strategies to be more present in non-synchronous aspects of your course.
“A glossary is a great reference tool for a student, especially when they’re studying material which is quite technical and contains a vocabulary which is specific to the subject.”
David McGeeney, MCR8019 Module Leader
“Well, our students come from a diverse range of professional backgrounds, are based in different countries and have different experiences. And when you’re dealing with clinical scenarios you really can’t afford to allow confusion and misinterpretation to happen, especially where the subject material is quite technical. Adding a glossary to ONC8004: Developments in Diagnostic Imaging in Oncology allows us to focus the webpage content on teaching and learning whilst linking to explanatory terms for those who need it.”
Victoria Hewitt, ONC8004 Module Leader
Benefits of using a Glossary
Ensures all students are familiar with discipline specific vocabulary
Provides a reliable reference tool students can use throughout their studies
Content can be more concise
Easy to create
Can be rolled over year after year
Making your own Glossary
It could be as simple as having a dedicated page located near the start of the content which students can reference throughout the course.
You can view example glossaries in the FMS Community, along with instructions on how to add navigation options such as an A-Z menu at the top and ‘Back to top’ links.