A recent case study by David Kennedy about personal tutoring in the School of Medical Sciences and its impact on student satisfaction.
Dr David Kennedy of the School of Medical Education recently shared his work on personal tutoring and academic mentorship via the LTDS blog. The case study details what changes were made, and shows the massive increase in student satisfaction that resulted.
“As a School, we had a desire to improve academic and professional development, as well as pastoral support, for all of our students to enable them to achieve their true potential and support their transition to the workplace.”
David Kennedy, SME
This case study will be of interest to anyone who is interested in mentoring and pastoral support, and student experience.
This case study covers the running of The Northern and Yorkshire Rheumatology Meeting 2021 (NYRM) using Microsoft Teams. The 170 attendees included a wide range of healthcare providers and students involved in Musculo-Skeletal disease specialisms. These included academics, clinical academics, PhD students, Allied Healthcare Professionals (AHPs) such as podiatrists, nurses and physiotherapists, and other Healthcare Professionals (HCPs), as well as corporate sponsors. The following discusses how the event was set up and run, as well as sharing reflections on the process. Technical guides for the setup are available at the end of the text.
Building Skills, Confidence and Resilience
This event has allowed for the development of skills in IT generally and specifically with running a Team and meetings. Though the initial setup may be a little technical if requirements are complex, after that it is simple to keep things running on the day.
It may seem intimidating to run this type of event as things go wrong sometimes, but this is true for live in-person events as well, it’s just that the solutions are different. It definitely helped that there was an extra pair of eyes to help manage the busier periods when a lot of people were joining sessions.
As with many things, sometimes it’s easiest just to jump in and get started! Though it was a bit of a baptism of fire running such a large and important event as a first try, with the support beforehand and the time to test, the running of the event on the day wasn’t too difficult. Time to practice with the tools and knowing who to ask for help was key in getting confidence to try out the process. Presenters and attendees were patient with the snags, and this is almost always what we find when trying something new. Confidence and resilience have now been developed, and lessons were learned that can be applied to future events.
From Offline to Online
Normally this meeting is held in York as a face-to face conference and it has been running annually since 1994. Attendees can gain CPD points from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) for attending. As with the offline event, a registration process is undertaken to ascertain who will be joining. While this may seem less important for an online meeting, it is relevant to how roles are set up, and confidentiality.
Requirements for the Conference
Key requirements for the event were:
Persistent online space for chatting and housing resources prior to, and for 2 weeks after the event (RCP requirement)
Recording attendance (RCP requirement)
Session recording and sharing (RCP requirement)
Ability to adequately control access to and the flow of restricted information (sponsors’ requirement)
Multiple presenters in one call
Multiple simultaneous sessions
Ability to handle internal and external attendees and speakers
A Single Access Point
The requirement to have an online space outside of the meetings themselves meant that using Teams made more sense. While it would have been possible to run the live sessions via Zoom and have other information on Teams, keeping this all within one app meant the experience was smoother for both attendees and hosts, as they only needed to worry about one login. This is key for our partners in NHS trusts who may not have Zoom on their work computers and may also be dealing with multiple guest logins on multiple services. Attendees with different feature sets available were still able to access everything, as only the basic features of Teams were used. Teams also allows for attendance and session recording built into each meeting, so this requirement could be satisfied without adding Zoom.
One key aspect of the conference is that the sponsors’ information needed to be kept private to HCPs only, and not be downloadable. In an online setting, access to non-contextualised information in an unmonitored fashion could quickly lead to misunderstanding. To facilitate sponsor participation, a separate SharePoint document library was created, and access was only granted to those who needed it using a SharePoint permissions group. The only people who could download any of the files were the Team owners.
Setup and Testing
The first stage was to set up a ‘sandbox’ or testing area to trial the settings and see how things would work in practice. Various solutions were trialled, including the confidential area and test meetings to try out the software. This was especially important as Janet did not have prior experience of running Teams meetings. Once the setup was decided upon, Marc and Janet built the real Team, ready to invite attendees.
Links to individual sessions were posted in their respective areas and sent to participants via email. There was also an overview post with the full day’s agenda available in the ‘General’ channel for all attendees to see.
A test meeting with presenters was run, in which Teams features were tested out with the speakers. This allowed them to become familiar with the software, and also allowed Janet to try using the features ‘live’ – doing simple tasks such as changing speakers’ roles from guest to presenter and managing the lobby.
On the Day
The bulk of work was at session changeovers, particularly at the start of each session. While there was a short handover time to allow for people to take a quick break and join the next call, having more staggered start times for simultaneous sessions would have taken the pressure off, even if this was just 5 minutes or so of difference. It’s worth noting that while Eleanor is experienced with Teams no technical solutions were needed on the day – it was more a case of directing people and sharing links in the right places – anyone could do this with a practice run beforehand.
Some attendees didn’t log in to the meetings with their invited accounts, which meant their presenter settings hadn’t carried over. Thankfully, this could be quickly changed in the meeting itself by updating the meeting options. It’s also worth noting that people do not need to be elevated to presenter in order to respond to questions – the main difference is that presenters can share their screen. Sometimes when people entered the lobby, all of the presenters would get a notification to allow them in – making them seem to disappear from the waiting list because they had already been admitted by someone else. This caused a little confusion for us but didn’t affect the attendees’ experience. In future instances it may be easier to allow everyone into the meeting (managed by one host) and elevate the required speakers’ permissions after the bulk of attendees have entered – this is a good backstop should issues arise with logins too.
After the Event
Meeting recordings were stored automatically to Stream, and then downloaded and uploaded moved to the SharePoint space. This is currently the smoothest way for guest access to video, though Microsoft are making changes to this process for 2022.
Because the meetings were automatically recorded, there was no risk of forgetting to press record. However, because anyone entering the meeting room was able to effectively ‘start’ the meeting, a lot of meeting instances and therefore recordings and attendance lists, were created. Once this was understood, it was easy to find the correct recordings and attendance lists and download them. Next time, meeting settings could be adjusted to only allow few people to start. There is always a debate between auto and manual recording – generally auto minimises risk, but if you do want to use manual recordings, try including a “the meeting will be recorded; recording will begin now” message on an early housekeeping slide to serve as a reminder to yourself to press the record button.
Feedback and Reflections
Generally, feedback for the online event was very good. Speakers’ presentations were praised, and attendees overwhelmingly found the event useful and informative. Though many people did say they prefer to meet face-to-face, having the sessions online meant that some people were able to join when they may not have been able to travel, and some attendees mentioned this as a positive in their feedback. Some attendees did mention that a downside of the online format was the lack of networking opportunities usually associated with the meeting. On reflection, having a social lobby area didn’t quite work, as some attendees weren’t sure of its function – perhaps the online environment makes us feel that we need to have a specific ‘goal’ to join a session, rather than the more casual bumping into one another during break time at a face-to-face event. Some attendees also stayed in the social lobby for a while instead of joining their session. This was alleviated by interventions by Eleanor and Janet. As it was not well-used, and didn’t seem to add to the experience, next time this social area would be left out.
Though the meeting was running through teams, some people found it more convenient to receive email links to the meetings as they were starting. This can be set up in advance by scheduling delivery in Outlook.
As with all innovations, now that the meeting has been run once, it would be less difficult to follow the same format again as hosts and attendees have more familiarity with the process and the software and have gained skills and confidence.
If you are interested in running a similar event, you can find a range of guidance below, and contact FMS Enquiries for further advice.
Over the past few months, the FMS TEL team have been working on bringing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to life. The course, Exploring 3D Anatomy, is an active, hands-on, and engaging online course now available to Newcastle students and staff! The course was designed by Dr Iain Keenan of Newcastle University and Mr Leonard Shapiro of the University of Cape Town.
3D spatial awareness is a cognitive function. Improving it improves students’ 3D visualisation ability and spatial skills in anatomy learning.
In our experience, medical, dental, and other healthcare students can experience significant challenges in 3D spatial anatomy. Because of the three-dimensional arrangement of the human body, student spatial awareness can be a major influence on their anatomical education. In this online course, students can practice several easy-to-follow, hands-on exercises that we have designed to address and improve 3D spatial awareness. Video demonstrations by Iain and Leonard guide students through each activity, which involve the use of readily available household objects such as a piece of fruit, a jar, or a fork.
As simple as these exercises are to follow and carry out, the effect of such activities on improving 3D spatial awareness can be notable. What’s more, the exercises can be enjoyable too!
The practical exercises in the course are demonstrated by Iain and Leonard on video, allowing students to access the content at their own pace. These videos show the exercises in detail and allow students to hear the conversation as the exercise unfolds. Videos are short and simple to follow, and have been captioned by the team to ensure clarity.
All Newcastle University staff and students can join the Canvas course, which is structured in three parts and requires around 4 hours of activity in total. We hope to expand access to an extended version of the course in 2022/23. For further information, please contact Dr Iain Keenan.
Dr Iain Keenan, Senior Lecturer in Anatomy, School of Medical Education, Newcastle University
Mr Leonard Shapiro, Observation and Spatial Awareness Teacher, Department of Human Biology, University of Cape Town
This course is supported by the following research:
Backhouse, M., Fitzpatrick, M., Hutchinson, J., Thandi, C.S. and Keenan, I.D. (2017), Improvements in anatomy knowledge when utilizing a novel cyclical “Observe-Reflect-Draw-Edit-Repeat” learning process. Anat Sci Educ, 10: 7-22. https://doi.org/10.1002/ase.1616
Ben Awadh, A., Clark, J., Clowry, G. and Keenan, I.D. (2021), Multimodal Three-Dimensional Visualization Enhances Novice Learner Interpretation of Basic Cross-Sectional Anatomy. Anat Sci Educ. https://doi.org/10.1002/ase.2045
Branson TM, Shapiro L, Venter RG. Observation of Patients’ 3D Printed Anatomical Features and 3D Visualisation Technologies Improve Spatial Awareness for Surgical Planning and in-Theatre Performance. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2021;1334:23-37. Available at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34476743/
Reid, S., Shapiro, L. and Louw, G. (2019), How Haptics and Drawing Enhance the Learning of Anatomy. Anat Sci Educ, 12: 164-172. https://doi.org/10.1002/ase.1807
Shapiro, L., Bell, K., Dhas, K., Branson, T., Louw, G. and Keenan, I.D. (2020), Focused Multisensory Anatomy Observation and Drawing for Enhancing Social Learning and Three-Dimensional Spatial Understanding. Anat Sci Educ, 13: 488-503. https://doi.org/10.1002/ase.1929
Having a new assessment system (Inspera) offers the opportunity to redesign assessments, and there are many examples of authentic assessment already running throughout FMS.
What is Authentic Assessment?
Authentic assessment covers a wide range of assessment techniques, including setting tasks that students may be asked to undertake in their future careers. It also covers the setting of other purposeful tasks – assessments that have value beyond simply testing knowledge, such as reflective tasks.
During the FMS TEL conference, a session was run that covered several examples of authentic assessment. Examples came from the School of Dentistry, presented by Ruth Valentine and Chris Penlington, the School of Psychology’s Psychology of Religion module led by Patrick Rosenkranz, and the School of Biomedical Sciences, presented by Lindsey Ferrie. The resources can be accessed via the links below.
Inspera is the new Digital Exam System available at the University. Inspera offers a wide range of features covering a large variety of exam styles. Colleagues wishing to learn more about Inspera are strongly encouraged to attend the event below, and explore the online guidance available on the LTDS website.
Further to our previous post, there have been some changes to the launch events as below.
12 October 2021 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM UK, 5:00 PM-18:30 PM Malaysia (via Zoom)
The FMS TEL Conference ran at the beginning of this month. Fifteen events ran in the week beginning 6th September 2021, with diverse themes covering technology in teaching, technical guides and inspiration, and how we interact with technology as people.
Sessions were attended by staff from Newcastle and from NUMed, with over 150 session bookings across the conference. Feedback from attendees has been positive, and colleagues shared their plans for implementing their learning from the conference.
Many thanks to the session hosts, everyone working behind the scenes, and to the attendees for joining us.
Session resources can be found on our Canvas and MLE communities.
The FMS TEL Team are delighted to announce their first conference, running in the week beginning 6th September 2021, from 8am-12noon BST / 3pm-7pm MYT each day. The programme commences on Monday morning with a welcome and keynote speech from Professor David Burn, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, and will conclude with an action-planning session on Friday. The whole conference will run online via Zoom, so you can dip in and out of the events that interest you the most.
Throughout the event there will be webinars and practical workshops hosted by the FMS TEL Team, as well as practice-based discussion sessions led by academic colleagues from FMS and NUMed. Sessions include practical software tips, digital skills, assessment, and teaching methods, among others.
You can see the full programme and book your place on the FMS TEL Conference page – new sessions are still being added! We can’t wait to see you all there!
This case study concerns the current module Psychosocial Issues in Cancer and Palliative care (ONC8006) as it is taught in 2020-21 academic year. This module is part of the Cancer and Palliative care programme and as such deals with emotionally challenging topics, including breaking bad news, loss, responding with empathy, screening for distress, anxiety and depression, families and carers, body image issues, survivorship, and interventions such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness. It is currently a small module with less than 20 students.
Next year it will be merging with another module, Handling Loss Grief and Bereavement (ONC 8010) and will become Psychosocial issues in Advanced Disease (ONC8030). Several elements of professional development, including a session run by Manchester University, and the FMS TEL Humanising the Online Experience webinar, helped to inspire and implement a few new ways of working which will be carried forward.
Clear themes emerged from the sessions attended, showing what students want from their online courses. Prompt feedback from tutors is clearly valued, as well as ease of access and clear information about assignments. Students want to feel the tutor’s presence in their course and want to be able to give feedback afterwards.
Given that the online environment can be stark and unemotional, and people do not always want to discuss these topics – even in classrooms, teaching this content online was always going to be a challenge. It was important to try and model the communication skills, behaviours and support that students would be learning about, allowing this to stand as an example of good practice.
The stress and emotional load on students this year has been particularly high both personally and professionally given the impact of COVID on service delivery and home life. Students often mentioned the difficulties of delivering bad news by phone and trying to support patients and families when there was minimal access to psychosocial services. This prompted the decision to offer Zoom appointments or phone calls to anyone who wanted them. These were offered rather than being compulsory, and not all students took up the offer. These were offered via Canvas announcements.
This year most chats only lasted 10-15 minutes but allowed students to consider how they would approach their essay. Spending this one-to-one time with students, even on the phone or via Zoom, has meant that getting to know them has been a lot easier, and students feel more supported. In some cases, a chat over email was enough, but sometimes it was much more time-effective just to call the student and have a quick chat, rather than spending time drafting and re-drafting a long or complex email.
Many of these chats took the form of one-to-one tutorials on assignments, explaining what was expected and how to do a good job of the assignment, as well as offering reassurance. Careful monitoring of the discussion boards has also allowed issues to be picked up and addressed.
Use of Discussion Boards
This module has always made good use of discussion boards. Participation in the discussion boards has been good, and regular and swift responses to students’ posts have helped further this. Questions such as ‘If you were diagnosed with cancer, who would be around to support you? What if they weren’t there?’ push students to think very deeply about their own personal situations, and to connect compassionately with what they are learning.
Some tasks had options which are less emotive, but most students chose to answer the most emotive task – naturally tutor feedback for this was very rich. This meant it was time-consuming, but also extremely valuable. Adding a simple ‘like’ or a quick remark would have been far too dispassionate for a module like this! Other students were also able to respond in a way that supported each other, thanking one another for their stories.
Further discussion board use included the choice for students to respond in their own private journal area rather than more publicly. This setup can help to engage students when topics are personal or reflective in nature.
Advice and Support from FMS TEL
The advice and support about what is possible, and how to implement things technically has been invaluable. This has allowed for modernisation, development and innovations in the methods used, as well as some experimentation within the module. When trying new things, make sure you set yourself up to succeed by starting small, and starting with what you’re comfortable with, adding more new elements as your confidence grows.
Feedback and Next Steps
This year the use of regular Canvas announcements has been a good way of keeping things on track. The participation in discussion boards and tutorials has been great, and students have said they feel supported. As the module will look very different next year, more adaptations will need to be made. For example, in future it might be useful to offer assignment guidance as a small group tutorial, especially if more students are taking the module. This way it can be scaled up and students can still feel supported.
Now it feels easier to interact with students online than it did at the beginning. Getting to know them as people beyond their studies has been very rewarding for everyone. Small things like being confident enough to use humour, or to share a funny cartoon about the subject, have become easier to judge as time has gone on. This can be tricky to judge if you can’t see faces or are worried about cultural faux pas, but once again, getting to know your class by building community really helps with this.
Our webinar recording and accompanying resources can be found on the FMS TEL Canvas community. These will be useful for anyone considering incorporating audio-only material in their teaching and assessment, as well as anyone interested in listening to or creating podcasts.