Case Study: Virtual Oral Presentations as a summative assessment

How do oral presentations work for 100% online modules?

Presentations helps students put across an idea while expressing their personalities, which is hard to do in an essay.

Introduction

Oral presentations are a popular choice of assessment in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, especially in our e-Learning modules. Students are asked to submit a pre-recorded presentation to Canvas and the markers watch the presentations at a time and place that suits them.

Diarmuid Coughlan, module leader for ONC8028 Practical Health Economics for Cancer, has kindly agreed to walk us through how the Virtual Oral Presentation element works on his module.

The Assessment

This year we had 14 students on the module. We asked the students to create a 15 minute presentation using either Zoom, Panopto (Recap) or PowerPoint.

We informed the students right at the start of the module that an oral presentation was part of the assessment and 4 weeks into the module we provided a formative assessment. The formative assessment allowed students to familiarise themselves with their chosen software, gain experience talking to a camera and also get some limited feedback on their presentation skills.

The submissions are double marked by 2 markers. Marking is completed separately by each marker outside of Canvas, then markers meet to discuss which marks/comments would be entered into Canvas and made visible to each student.

The Set Up

We provided 2 submission points in Canvas:

Recording Submission Point:

This area was used for the marking. It was set up as Media Recording for MP4 uploads (max of 500 mb) with a Text Entry option for Panopto users (no size limit).

We allowed students to choose which technology they were most comfortable with and provided video and written instructions for Panopto and Zoom. PowerPoint instructions were added later as an option with links to guidance provided by Microsoft.

View of instructions in Canvas

We also provided some instructions so students could crop their recordings to comply with the 15 minute time limit.

You are limited by time so remember to edit your recording so it is no longer than 15 minutes. Instructions: Windows | Mac | Panopto

Slide Submission Point:

This area had a 0 point value. It was set up as a File upload area for students to submit their slides as .ppt or .pdf, this allowed us to get a turnitin plagiarism score for each presentation as well as a reference copy of the slides, should anything be unclear in the video recordings.

How did it go?

There was a lot of fear from students initially. We encouraged students to give it a go, informing them that we were not trying to trick them. We provided clear guidance on what we expected and provided a rubric with a breakdown of points, clearly showing only a small percentage of the grade would be based on their presentation style and delivery. The content of the presentation was the most important part!

The use of technology was varied:

As markers we also had to overcome our fears of technology.

PowerPoint is easier once you know how to access recordings (you have to download the file, then click start slideshow).

Sometimes the Panopto recordings were hard to find, especially if students had experience of using the technology in Blackboard and did not follow the Canvas instructions correctly.

What are your next steps?

  • We only provided grades with a short feedback comment last year, we plan to provide more extensive feedback going forward
  • We will add more video content into the module as examples of how to create engaging slides and showcase our presentation styles – hopefully leading by example
  • We would also like to provide examples of a good presentation vs a bad presentation

Personal Tutoring, an example of rapid application development?

What is Personal Tutoring?

Personal Tutoring is the process of assigning the availability of university staff for student tutoring. It is not actually the process of assigning individual students to individual staff. Staff in the faculty are assigned to programme groupings/pots (not individual programmes), these groupings have a lead administrator that can then work out by looking at the expected student intake whether they need more staff resource, or can free it up for others.

The faculty admin team have undertaken this process for many years using excel spreadsheets and email communications to pass the information back and forward. This kinds of activity is both time consuming and prone to errors caused by duplicate copies of data and missed communications.

This is the perfect example of a process that can be done better using a web application, the kind of work the Technologies Developers in FMS TEL undertake all the time.

No time to plan properly

Sometimes a project comes to the unit that needs to be completed in a short time frame. Ideally the amount of time spent on a new website would be evenly spread between specifications, design, implementation, testing and support/improving., it may even go through many loops of these processes.

When a project does not have the luxury of time, then all these steps need to be compressed and decisions made on which steps need to be prioritised . In the case of personal tutoring the design phase and specifications where collaborated from the old Excel spreadsheets and turned into a simple tabular wireframe display. These spreadsheets where also identified as the origin of the data the site would be based off and import scripts planned accordingly. No complex interface features where offered, just a clean display of the data, with filters and stats to help the tutoring assignments. As for the implementation of the site, we decided to host the new site on top of another, saving time on hosting framework and infrastructure. We chose a site that had similar tools (FMS Projects, which has a statistics section) and tools we could utilise. We also based the core of the new site off knowledge and experience the team was used to (API’s and data tables, spreadsheet importing / exporting). Finally the testing and support side was compressed, keeping the interface simple, reducing the need for support and documentation. The limited number of users the site may have, also helps support as we can offer short term direct guidance.

With all these measures, we managed to reduce a development process that could take 6 months down to 3.

The Results

The Personal Tutoring site is due to go live in July 2022. We managed to write and get a functional version of the site done in roughly 2 months. This left 1 month planning the release, testing and show casing the site to the customers and making improvements from their feedback. Overall we are pleased with the structure and quality of the site. The code design is based on solid principles and should offer a degree of flexibility when Personal Tutoring gets used and the inevitable suggested improvements come through.

If you are interested in this topic and wish to learn more, please contact:

Dan Plummer, Learning Technologies Developer, dan.plummer@newcastle.ac.uk

Exploring 3D Anatomy – The University of Cape Town Launch

This week students from the University of Cape Town have joined the pilot of the Exploring 3D Anatomy course.

The second pilot of the Exploring 3D Anatomy course is now live, with students participating at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Leonard Shapiro presented an introduction to the course on 18th March to a class of second-year medical students – many of whom joined the class remotely via Teams.

Photo of a presentation Exploring 2D Anatomy.
Leonard presents the course
Photo of a classroom with Zoom call showing on a projection screen.
An example of one of the course exercises is shared
Photo of presenter and project screen showing exercises.
Leonard presents the course exercises
Dr Iain Keenan in the course trailer
Dr Iain Keenan in the course trailer

The course trailer was also shown, and students were invited to sign up using a QR code posted on the slide show as well as on posters in the lecture theatre. Senior lecturer in Anatomy, Dr Geney Gunston, also posted the sign-up link for the students on VULA, the university messaging system.

Many students have signed up, and we look forward to working with them over the next few weeks as they Explore 3D Anatomy from home.

After this pilot and a further development phase, we hope to make the course more widely available to many more students.

Images provided by UCT medical student Mulaudzi God-mother Matodzi-muswa and Leonard Shapiro.

A Quick Trial of 360° Cameras in a Practical Session

Find out the pros and cons of 360 degree meeting room cameras in practical sessions.

Roisin Devaney, Susan Lennie, Andrea McGrattan

Situation

This practical session was based around students creating a meal to align with the recommendations of the EatWell guide, using ingredients provided in the food handling lab. The session involved a short introduction, followed by time for the activity, and feedback. At the last moment there was a request to record the practical session, and therefore a 360° camera was used as a quick solution – an ideal opportunity to test the camera’s capabilities.

These rooms are not set up for ReCap, so having this portable method of recording allowed for the session to be captured. The camera was connected to Zoom so that a remote student could watch the session or review the recording. As it happened, no one watched the stream live, so there was no interaction with a remote participant. As shown from the screenshots below, the camera could cover the whole room without needing to be moved. It can also zoom in and out to focus on where the action was taking place.

Method

The camera was quick and simple to set up, and lecturers used lapel mics to capture sound when they were addressing the class. The camera was placed on the demonstrators’ bench at the front of the room, where it could see the kitchen spaces as well as the session leads, and the whiteboard.

All present were made aware of the device. It was relatively unobtrusive and didn’t get in the way of the session – most people just forgot about it. This is a bonus as it means the lecturers don’t have to consider what to capture at various points during the session. They could also walk around the room naturally rather than being stuck at the fixed point of presenting from a particular spot at the front as the camera would follow them.

Results

As a quick solution, it was easy to set up, and the predetermined settings allowed for much of the session to be captured. It provided a record of the practical session, though due to the level of automation in where the camera chose to focus, some detail and some sound was lost. For example, on some occasions, the camera would choose to focus based on an incidental sound in the room, like a pot being scraped. This kind of auto-selection would work better in a situation such as a seminar where everyone sits around one table with less background noise and more obvious turn-taking when speaking.

The camera also captured incidental discussions – as it was placed at the front where students were collecting ingredients, it captured discussions between students about what they were choosing to include in their meal.

It was also able to capture two areas simultaneously and display them side by side, allowing for an overview of the room as well as capturing individual discussions.

Other Applications

There are a range of applications for this type of device in a practical setting. For example, for a remote student, the device could be placed in a group of students so that some collaboration would be possible. This would allow them to be more involved in the practical aspect of the session, though of course it would not be a complete substitution for in-person attendance.

Though the session recordings are relatively long, once uploaded to Panopto, bookmarks could be added to allow students to quickly navigate to various parts of the session, for example the input and feedback.

Contacts

Roisin Devaney, Susan Lennie and Andrea McGrattan, Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Sciences

Resources

Owl Camera

Art of the Possible Lightning Talk including a brief overview of this work at 24:22.

Incorporating Pointing in Recorded Presentations – Motion tracking

This post shows how cursor movement can be used in online presentations to show gesture, and the skills needed to add motion tracked items to video.

As part of the recently launched Exploring 3D Anatomy MOOC, two video presentations were created. These presentations involved explaining diagrams and pictures. One of these recordings had a moving cursor which the presenter had used to explain various parts of the screen, and the other was recorded without a cursor. To improve the clarity of the explanations, we had a request to display a larger cursor over the recorded material, using it to ‘point’ to the various significant areas shown. 

When you’re planning a virtual presentation it’s worth checking if and how the software handles the cursor – some software will use a glowing highlight as you present, some will show and hide the cursor automatically depending on when you move it. The videos were recorded in ReCap, which automatically hides the cursor unless it is moving. The end of the post has links to various guides to help you choose your settings. The rest of this post details the animation process for how a larger cursor was added after the presentations had been recorded. This technique could be applied to other added graphical elements too if needed. 

Creating the New Cursor

As the cursor is used in a lot of animations, there was already a scalable vector graphic image of a cursor available to use. This had been drawn in Adobe Illustrator. The next step was to use After Effects to add the cursor to the video and animate it.  

Tracking the Cursor

For the video with the cursor visible, the motion tracking function of After Effects was used. After identifying the original cursor, the new larger cursor was set to track it. Here and there the original cursor changed colour to remain visible over different backgrounds. It wasn’t necessary to replicate the colour change with the larger cursor, but this colour change did add extra steps when setting up the motion tracking as it needed to be started afresh each time the original cursor had changed colour. For the video without the cursor, the process was simpler as there was nothing to hide or track. As such the animations could be set up from scratch. Based on the clear explanation from the presenter, it was possible to add a cursor to trace the areas being explained.  

Adding the New Cursor

The animations were set up to take place between certain moments of the video – like scenes. Key points in the video were identified and ‘key frames’ added which allow us to set up when certain animations should take place, and how long for. Simple animations such as changing size, position or rotation can be done relatively quickly using these linear key frames. 

Once the start and end points are set, further customisation can be done to change the feel of the animation. For example, in this case, the speed of the cursor should somewhat mimic a natural movement rather than a precisely uniform speed. Using ‘ease in’ and ‘ease out’ (combined as ‘easy ease’) allows for the animation to look a little more natural, and less jarring, as the cursor starts to move more slowly before speeding up and gradually slowing to a stop.  

When moving from point to point it’s very rare that a straight line is the best path to take, usually a slightly curved path can help add a more natural-looking movement. This might be used to instruct a viewer to click a series of buttons, for example. The ‘spatial interpolation’ in After Effects allows for the path of the moving object to be linear (a straight line) or Bezier (curved). The temporal interpolation tool allows for variations to the speed of the movement – a more customisable version of easing. Adjusting these allows for a nice natural pace and movement, and for more creative effects. For example an item moving from A to B may move slowly at first, then speed up towards the middle of its journey, then slow down again before arriving at its final destination – imagine a train travelling between stations!).

In this video the cursor was hidden from screen for most of the video so it was animated manually.
In this video the cursor was tracked (while visible), note the more erratic movement.

Approximating Gesture

The final videos allowed for a clear approximation of gesture to be added to the presentations, mimicking how a presenter might usually point to a screen or demonstrate a movement. While this is something very natural to do in person, you may need to think more about how you use and move your cursor in online presenting. Often it can be tricky to see the cursor, so you may wish to consider moving it more slowly than usual if you are using it to indicate processes or changes. Selecting some form of pointer or cursor highlighting in your chosen software can improve the visibility of the cursor during your presentation, whether recording or in person. On the other hand, you may wish to put your mouse out of reach so that random or accidental cursor movements don’t detract from your content. 

Motion Tracking Demonstration

This video demonstrates the full motion tracking procedure, showing how you can track an object and then map the position of a cursor to it.

Resources

Case Study – Audio Commentaries on Client Consultations – Susan Lennie

This post is about using audio recordings of patient consultations in teaching. Commentary was added to the recordings by the lecturer to create a richer resource.

Introduction

This case study concerns Dietetics and Nutrition module NUT2006, Measurement and Assessment of Dietary Intake and Nutritional Status. As part of this module, dietary interview consultations are recorded so that the students can listen to these as examples. The FMS TEL Podcasting Webinar provided initial inspiration for what could be done with the recordings to enhance them. With a little more support, a new audio resource has been developed which adds audio commentary to the recorded consultations, highlighting various features.

Consultations and Recordings

The work of Dietitians and Nutritionists involves gathering information from individuals and populations on their recent or typical food intake. This enables them to analyse nutrient intake and understand dietary behaviours so that they can make suitable recommendations. Taking a diet history, or a 24-hour dietary recall, involves a structured interview with questions exploring habitual food intake, timing of meals, cooking methods and quantities. The effectiveness of the interviewers’ questioning technique impacts upon the quantity of information gathered and the quality of the nutritional analysis that can be undertaken. Students are working towards proficiency in these skills. Listening to recordings of these interviews exposes students to examples which will support in improving their skills when they perform these tasks for themselves. They can also practice analyzing the data provided from the audio recordings.

The recordings themselves are a very rich resource, which could be used in a variety of ways to help students improve their practice. The following task was developed, which required teaching staff to add audio commentary to the interviews.

The Task

Students first watched a short lecture on best practice for conducting interviews. They then listened to a recorded interview, by an anonymous peer, and made notes critiquing the effectiveness of the questioning techniques and determining if the quality of information obtained was sufficient to undertake nutritional analysis. Next, they listened to the same interview with professional commentary provided by staff, highlighting what could be improved and were asked:

  • Did you spot the same things?
  • Reflect on the comments and try to think about how you might use this knowledge to improve your own skills in gathering dietary information from service users.

This task was designed to allow students to develop their skills in conducting the interviews, and to reflect on practice and identify areas for development. The use of peer recordings meant that there would be a range of areas to comment on, making the task itself much more active than simply listening to a professional. Students were also offered more interview recordings to practice this task further.

Adding Commentary with GarageBand

A recording was chosen that demonstrated a range of teaching points. Having listened to the recording and made brief notes, cuts were then made in the original recording at natural stopping points, for example, after the participant and interviewer had discussed breakfast. It was important to allow the original recording room to breathe by not interjecting too often – this makes for fewer edits too.

You can record audio with a range of devices – Windows laptops can run Audacity, and Macs come with GarageBand. It is also possible to record audio clips on a smartphone and import them. When doing any recording, make sure to do a quick test first to ensure there is no unwanted background noise – just record a few seconds and listen back. GarageBand was used in this case, but the Audacity user interface is very similar.

The first 20-minute recording took around two hours to produce, but this time included learning how to use the software. The screenshot below shows how the editing process looks in GarageBand. The top half shows the three tracks that were mixed to create the final output. By cutting and arranging the various sections, it is possible to quickly add commentary and even intro music to the basic original recording.

The project file, which contains all of the information in the top half of the screenshot such as individual tracks and cuts, can be saved for later use. This is helpful if you want the flexibility to change the content, or re-use elements. The single stream of audio can be exported separately as an audio file and embedded into Canvas or the MLE with accompanying text and other resources to build the desired task.

Style and Substance

It is natural to worry about quality when producing an audio or audiovisual resource for the first time as the content should convey a level of professionalism matching its purpose. As long as content is clear and understandable, it will serve for teaching. Making a clean recording can be done relatively simply by avoiding background noise and speaking at a measured pace and volume. You can add a touch more professionalism to your recordings by adding a little music to the intro and using some basic transitions like fading between different tracks if needed, but there is no need to go out and buy specialist equipment. The content of the recordings was linked very closely to the students’ tasks and mirrored how they may receive feedback in future by showing what practitioners look for in their interviews. This clear purpose alongside the care taken in producing the audio ensures that this resource is valuable to listeners.

Conclusion

While at first it seemed like a big undertaking, a quick YouTube search for instructions on using the software, and then having a go with the audio recordings has opened up a new avenue of teaching methodology – it was a lot easier to do than it first appeared, and in total took around 2 hours. The software has a lot of capabilities, but only the basics are really needed to produce a high-quality, rich teaching resource. Commentated practitioner interactions allow teaching staff to draw students’ attention to key moments while remaining in the flow of the interaction, signposting how students can reflect on practice and develop their own interviewing skills.

Resources

Contact

Susan Lennie, Senior Lecturer, Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Sciences

Case Study – Enhanced Personal Tutoring: Embedding Academic Mentorship

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.

Running an Online Event via Teams – Northern and Yorkshire Rheumatology Meeting 2021

Janet Herdman, Marc Bennett, Eleanor Gordon

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.

Confidential Information

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.

Team Space

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.

Resources and Guides

The Hyflex Teaching Model

In response to the global pandemic, we have found ourselves faced with unprecedented challenges and a need to rapidly adapt our teaching delivery to accommodate students working remotely. Currently, we are aiming to return to a ‘business as usual’ model but in reality, there may be circumstances where some students are still unable to be present in person (PiP). Our international students are one particularly vulnerable group facing a continuous level of uncertainty regarding travel opportunities and restrictions. With this in mind, colleagues at INTO Newcastle University devised a delivery approach encompassing the Hyflex Model.

What is the Hyflex Model?

“The hybrid flexible, or HyFlex, course format is an instructional approach that combines face-to-face (F2F) and online learning. Each class session and learning activity is offered in-person, synchronously online, and asynchronously online” (EDUCAUSE, 2020). The main aim is that no student is disadvantaged, no matter which format they select. INTO Newcastle’s take on this approach was to connect PiP students with online peers through use of a camera, microphone, tripod and a hosting site such as Zoom or Teams. Asynchronous delivery is not a part of this approach. Session plans, pace of delivery and learning outcomes had to be adjusted because of the changed learning environment. A sample of FMS staff were able to experience this approach in real time at a training session delivered by INTO Newcastle’s Pre-Sessional Programme Manager, Darran Shaw. They gave the following reflections:

Overall

“While in no way perfect, this approach is something worth experimenting with”.

“The relatively cheap equipment was functional and would allow 3-way engagement”. 

Audio-related 

“I chose to join the ‘online’ part of the class via the Zoom meeting link on my phone. This was quick and easy to join, though we would possibly need to think about which accounts students have on their phones – whether they could join with their personal or university accounts. Once in the meeting I had minimal problems with sound or hearing the classroom participants. I can imagine this being difficult if the quality dropped though – even small cut-outs in the signal or sound pickup can make understanding difficult. This is even more of a concern for students joining who have poorer internet access, or who do not have English as a first language”. 

“To enhance the experience, I felt that the quality of the audio was the most important.  The levels of concentration required to filter out background noise and focus on the primary speaker is very tiring and difficult (this was already experienced with recorded lectures prior to COVID and even more diverse with academic recording or conducting zoom classes from their own PC over the last 18 months).  For those in the room, sound from all participants was equal and what we would expect, but it was not picked up equally by the microphone for those on-line.  Repositioning the single microphone was a trade-off to pick up more participants at the expense of reduced quality of the primary speaker. This could be enhanced by investment in a multiple microphone set up”.

“When the purpose of the teaching session is inter-participant communication, eg seminar, then we need to experiment more with all participants (PiP and remote) using zoom-like breakout rooms and headsets. In small classrooms/lecture theatres this is easier to control and can be achieved for lecture and seminar teaching”. 

Video

“Having a visual link to speakers and the PiP class gives an important feeling of participation and value.  I do not think the quality of the video is as important as the audio. Having said that, from the experience of this session a visual link to whoever is speaking makes it easier to focus on what is being said and allows non-verbal communication”.

“I feel it would also be good to have sight of the teacher and the class simultaneously. We spoke about this being important to pick up on cues when online participants can speak. We can see how easy it is to forget the online participants”.

Etiquette

“Appropriate etiquette is important and become vital for large class sizes. Emphasis should be placed on respect for other users, time management to attend equally (IT/bandwidth allowing) and professional level of engagement.  The latter should be specifically mentioned in Graduate Skills and academics should be allowed to comment on student engagement (recognising this is aspirational as it is almost impossible for one lecturer to monitor for large classes)”.

Top Tips for future Hyflex classes

  • There is a risk that an ‘us and them’ divide will form so it is recommended that staff look at mixing online participants and groupings in breakout rooms. PiP students could take turns signing in to Zoom/Teams calls.
  • A major requirement is sound. It would be worth investing in a few microphones to ensure the sound quality is equal between the participants in the room and the teaching lead. There would need to be potential wire issues and feedback issues sorted out. This is of fundamental importance due to the extra concentration and effort needed of online participants to hear what is said in the room. It is worth considering the use of a microphone that could be passed around easily.
  • Having multiple users logged on to zoom in the same physical space increases the chance for echo/feedback and therefore users need to experiment with the set up.
  • Whilst a hi-spec system, such as that available in the Boardroom is desirable, a low-cost camera recording the whole class will enhance feeling of participation, ‘time and place’ for learning.  The primary speaker can use a second camera (laptop or phone).  The two logged on as separate users.
  • Ground rules are needed: when to speak, recapping when unheard would be important, etiquette when joining a classroom remotely and being expected to participate fully as if present in person (but not in pyjamas or lying in bed).
  • Consider pre-planning task set up instructions. It may not always be obvious when students need to be looking at the shared screen, the speaker’s video input, or a gallery view of other online participants.
  • Be open-minded. Experiment with colleagues and test out the experience to determine what makes it easier for the teacher and the students. 

With thanks to the session leaders and participants: Darran Shaw, David Broadbent, Geoffrey Bosson, John Moss, Paul Hubbard, Luisa Wakeling, Eleanor Gordon

Resource: EDUCAUSE (2020) Available at: https://library.educause.edu/resources/2020/7/7-things-you-should-know-about-the-hyflex-course-model