3D Holograms in Teaching – NULTConf

Dr Aleksey Kozikov, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics presented on 3D holograms and showed examples of using them in lecture theatres.

Dr Aleksey Kozikov discussed the uses of 3D holograms and showed examples, including the projection of lab equipment, objects, and presenters into lecture theatres.

In traditional teaching approaches, students are taught in a sitting and listening manner. To provide a more participatory learning experience, help students to visualise, clarify the taught concepts and enhance the way students learn, we are planning to introduce 3D “holograms” into the real space learning environment. We will discuss ideas to use holograms of research facilities and extend to any practical activities that are otherwise not possible to do in a lecture theatre

This can enhance in-person teaching and could be a resource used in FMS.

There could be live projections of speakers or leading experts in the field, who could not be there in person. They could join the conversation from abroad but look like they are physically in the room with other speakers.

Lecturers could explain a piece of equipment which was previously too cumbersome to transport to lectures. Students could see a visible representation of equipment beside them as they discuss it.

We could show experiments without the person and equipment physically being in the room. This could be done in multiple rooms simultaneously, relieving the need for large lectures halls or repeated sessions.

Resources

Probity in Online Exams – Success at TEPARG for SDS and FMS TEL

This post highlights the work done by SDS and FMS TEL to support remote exams over the past few years. Successful techniques for keeping students informed and supported are discussed, including student voice.

Work done by the School of Dentistry and FMS TEL Team won first prize at the Trans-European Pedagogic Anatomical Research Group Hybrid Conference this year, for the presentation on ‘Adopting a flexible approach to professional anatomy spotter exams during COVID’. You can read the internal news item on Sharepoint.

This work was also subsequently presented at the Newcastle University Learning and Teaching Conference 2022. Newcastle Staff can view the poster here for an overview.

This work centres on how exams subject to oversight from professional bodies – in this case the General Dental Council – could be run with adequate probity when these could not be undertaken in person.

The first element of this is to run the exams ‘live’ rather than as a 24h format. This meant that teaching staff and professional staff could be on hand to resolve any technical difficulties or make invigilation decisions.

A variety of question designs were also thought through. The final format was a ‘stimulus’ question type on Canvas, allowing an image to be shown with answer options alongside. Now this question type can also be used with Inspera exams.

The support of students with SSPs was also a key consideration, and rest breaks were granted across the board when exams were very lengthy. Students were asked what they thought about the probity measures put in place, such as the use of an exam declaration, and checking responses which may have been copy-pasted. Overall, the response was positive.

A key element in the smooth running of these exams was the preparation offered to students beforehand, such as clear messaging via email and the opportunity to practice with the exam environment before undertaking their summative assessments. 99% of students agreed that they had been well-supported throughout the process and during the exams themselves via the Zoom exam hotline. Most calls were students double-checking their responses had been submitted, rather than having technical issues.

Learning from these exams has already been carried forward for digital exams running through the new Inspera exam system, and the confidence staff and students have in the procedure means that any future changes to circumstances will be much easier to navigate for these teams and cohorts.

The Unessay – NULTConf

Dr Stephanie Holton presented her Unessay assessment task – what could you assess with an Unessay?

At the Learning and Teaching Conference Dr Stephanie Holton, along with two of her students, presented their experiences trialling a new approach to assessment – giving students freedom in how to present their learning, rather than setting a traditional essay task. This work was done in a module examining Ancient Greek texts.

What is an ‘unessay’ – and how exactly does it work? This talk explores the increasingly popular unessay as alternative assessment type, taking as a case study its implementation across several compulsory language modules in the School of History, Classics & Archaeology during 2020-21. Delivered by both the staff and students involved, it highlights the wide range of benefits – as well as the challenges – of diversifying assessment in some of our most traditional modules.

Dr Stephanie Holton

The full talk can be viewed here.

It was fantastic to see how the students were able to approach this new assessment methodology, and the outputs themselves were diverse, including models and digitally-created choose-your-own adventure books. The support provided included workshops and one-to-one sessions so that students knew what to expect, and were confident they were on the right track. While somewhat time-intensive in terms of support, the level of engagement and ownership the students felt around their creations was a clear benefit of this methodology.

Students were able to share their extra curricular creative skills, and the diversity of their approaches meant that they were prompted to explore their texts in new ways – for example researching clothing colours for their model characters that would be appropriate for the time. The need for these extra details prompted students to do more research around their text that they may not have otherwise done, broadening their subject knowledge.

These kinds of assessments open the door to students using and expanding their digital skills, even though this isn’t the focus of the assessment. The element of choice allows them to choose their own level of comfort with how they’d like to present their project – whether this is in a digital format or physical.

What could you assess with an Unessay?

Augmented reality in physics laboratories – NULTConf

NULTConference – Augmented reality in physics laboratories how might this help in FMS?

An extremely interesting talk from Dr Aleksey Kozikov on using AR to allow students to operate equipment in a lab remotely.

We introduce augmented reality (AR) in online physics laboratories and demonstrate their operation. It allows students to see the real and virtual world overlaid with each other. Webcams stream videos of real hands-on experiments live into students’ computers. Virtual objects (buttons, switches, cables, etc.) overlay with the real scenes. As users handle virtual tools, they perform required tasks of experiments. We will also discuss advantages of having AR labs.

The full talk can be viewed here

Equipment was set out with a webcam in front of it. . The webcam was linked to a micro controller which allowed students to control it remotely. Students logged into an onscreen control panel. Virtual buttons were placed over the top of real buttons on the machines to allow students to have the effect of pressing them. The camera worked by using markers which were placed on the machines to help the camera with tracking and keep the virtual buttons in place.

There were also 360⁰ virtual tours of labs. Students could enter and walk around the labs, click on icons to learn more about equipment and click a weblink to a browser to do the experiment. There was no need for software, just a browser. Only necessary functionality was available. No need to log into university computers, and students could work remotely in groups.

Red circles were used as markers for the camera. Next steps were to use Fiducial markers (small QR codes) which can provide much more information. They are also looking for students to be able to use handheld controllers with VR glasses in future development. These would also be used in person in the labs and they would be able to comment to someone through the glasses on Zoom.

This concept may be transferable to some experiments done in FMS labs.

Learning and Teaching Conference: the hidden curriculum

Discusses the presentation of hidden curriculum and how it might be overcome in our own practice.

One presentation at the conference stood out for me as it sought to help students overcome transition to university from school in a way which we often don’t think about. The presenters use of TEL would help overcome any barriers for students developing their ‘academic identity’ in belonging to the university, and gave me some ideas about how we could integrate their ideas in our courses.

EPIC: SELLL’s answer to enculturing undergraduates in academia

Dr Heike Pichler and Dr Rebecca Woods, SELLL (in addition, others from SELLL were involved in the project), discussed the hidden curriculum and what can be done to expose it to students. ‘Hidden‘ is because we don’t make it explicit in our curriculae.

The hidden curriculum consists of all the unofficial expectations academia has of their students, including an expectation that they will speak our academic language. We expect students to know what we are talking about when we use university jargon. For instance, how many students know what a DPD is when they arrive in Fresher’s Week? We talk about modules, but we don’t necessarily mean the same thing as ‘modules’ in Canvas which they meet as soon as they join a course.

The presenters have come up with a solution:’EPIC’. Part of this project is a jargon-buster, acting as a glossary for acronyms most academics take for granted, some very specific to SELLL. You can find it on their school blog: https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/epic/jargon-buster/

Image shows Jargonbuster from EPIC

So where would this fit with technology use in FMS? A simple solution would be to put our own glossary on our Canvas induction areas or school blogs. How about an icebreaker in induction week to get students involved in finding out what our acronyms mean? Perhaps a Padlet embedded in Canvas for students to post their long versions.

Another aspect of the hidden curriculum the presenters flagged is assessment: do our students know what we mean when we ask them to write reports/essays/presentations/lay presentations etc? Being fluent in academic language and competent in the activities of academia is likely to increase success rates. We can use our Canvas assignment pages to make explicit what we expect them to do in terms of their output, and signpost where they can get help with study skills and writing development at the library (https://www.ncl.ac.uk/library/resources-and-study-support/). Of course, that doesn’t mean students will actually read our materials, but it may be helpful.

Video Award Success for FMS TEL Team

The team shares success at the Learning and Teaching Conference – find out more about how DIY and bespoke animations can help boost learning in your course.

Several members of the FMS TEL team attended the NU Teaching & Learning Conference on Thursday 31st March giving strong representation of the team.

It was a great day with some very insightful presentations on a broad range of topics and a very interesting keynote from Professor Paul Ashwin. It was also the first time in years that the conference has been able to be run ‘in person’ and with around 300 attendees it felt like a slight return to normality.

Members of the FMS TEL team had both ‘posters’ and ‘video presentations’ entered into the competitions. Attendees were sent a link to view them and were able to vote for their favourites both in the week leading up to the conference and also on the day itself.

Eleanor Gordon (left) and Ashley Reynolds (right)

Ashley Reynolds and Eleanor Gordon from the FMS TEL team were delighted to be announced winners of the ‘Best Video Award’ for their video presentation titled ‘Creating and using animations to explain concepts’ which highlighted how animations could be used to enhance teaching, and techniques that will both improve memory retention and also increase learner engagement. The video presentation entry can be seen below.

Video submission

If you would like to know more about animations and the services that the team can offer, please get in touch.

We would like to say ‘Thank you very much’ to the LTDS team for organising a great conference. Can’t wait for next year!

A Vision for University Education

Summative and exploratory review of Paul Ashwin’s keynote address at NU Learning & Teaching Conference 2022.

The keynote at this year’s Learning and Teaching Conference at Newcastle University was Paul Ashwin, who is Professor of Higher Education at Lancaster University.

Paul Ashwin presenting at Newcastle University – photo by Eleanor Gordon

It was a good feeling being at a present-in-person conference and catching up with colleagues face-to-face for the first time since the start of the Pandemic. But would the keynote offer something inspiring and thought provoking? In my view – yes!

Paul Ashwin put forward the argument for an inclusive and transformative vision for H.E. vs. the status quo which is elitist and reproductive (of social inequalities). Current political drivers focus on the role of H.E. in developing employable students, but are predicated on a vision of H.E. which mistake social advantage with ability.

It would be hard to miss how much Newcastle University does to promote inclusivity, social justice, and contributing to the community (ok you can always do more!) – but there was still maybe some parts of Paul Ashwin’s keynote which made you reflect on what NU is as an institution and maybe a slight feeling of discomfort considering our position as an ‘advantaged’ Russel Group University. In particular, Paul talked about the ‘games’ H.E. play around Rankings and Generic Graduate Attributes. Paul’s research found that there was no relationship between educational quality and rankings. Few within in H.E. see the value of rankings and league tables, yet when we do well in them, ‘double-think’ (George Orwell) kicks in and we publicise them at every available opportunity! He didn’t mention what is probably the biggest ‘game’ of all in H.E. – the Research Excellence Framework! I guess, the issue is that regardless of whether you see and value in rankings, attributes, REF etc, as effective quality indicators – few H.E.I.s could afford not to play these ‘games’, given their impacts on student recruitment and funding.

Paul, gave a savaging critique of generic competencies – nearly all HEIs have adopted graduate attributes frameworks, but he argues these are often over-simplified and the focus on employability outcomes may distort how we measure quality in education. He spoke about creating a shopping list as an example of how almost any task can be shown to meet generic skills (time management, sustainability etc.). For me personally, that’s may be throwing out the baby with the bath water. True, if engaged with in a superficial manor, graduate attributes may have limited value. However, if meaningfully linked with the rich knowledge and capabilities developed at University (and other life-wide experiences), then they can have value; particularly as we need to build, recognise and continually develop transferable skills, in a world where our graduates will likely go on to have multiple careers.  

The overall vision Paul put forward was one of inclusivity and the role of H.E. being custodians of knowledge and the role of teaching in making knowledge accessible to all. Our course and assessment designs need to provide exciting engagement with a structured body of knowledge. The backdrop to all this (perhaps ‘taken as read’ by the speaker) is the politics / government policy, including the impact of student fees and marketisation – and the view of the student purely as a “customer”. There are those who question why fees are so high, given that subject information is freely available on the Internet (making no distinction between information and knowledge). Also, there is a narrow focus on measuring employability outcomes and graduate incomes. Paul’s critique of this vision is that it strongly reinforces the reproductive role of H.E. in perpetuating social privilege. He was arguing that as a sector we need to invest time in the collective redesign of education for the more inclusive vison of H.E. which supports transformative learning, accessible by all.

Paul Ashwin provided a thought-provoking keynote, which was very apt for the conference, this year titled as “Education for All: Learning Together”.

Developing audio commentated interviews to support student learning – NULT2022

As part of the conference, Susan Lennie and Eleanor Gordon presented this video detailing the student response to the introduction.

The written summary of the development of the intervention can be accessed below.

Creating and Using Animations to Explain Concepts – NULT2022

A video explanation and demonstration of how animations can be used to explain concepts, and when this is most effective.

Teaching and Learning Conference Presentation

Ashley Reynolds and Eleanor Gordon

This video demonstrates how animations can be used to enhance teaching. Some animations require specialist experience to create, but a great deal can be achieved by adding purposeful animations in PowerPoint, or utilising H5P.

Animated diagrams are a rich resource for explaining processes and relationships. Online teaching sometimes means that gestures such as pointing, highlighting and demonstrating motion are lost. Including these dynamic elements in presentations boosts understanding of concepts and processes when compared with static images. (Goff et al., 2017).

Resources

Using Canvas Commons to Supply and Support Student Learning Opportunities – NULT2022

All of our posts about this conference can be seen under the tag NULTConf2022.

This lightning talk was presented in person at the Learning and Teaching Conference 2022. Newcastle University staff wishing to access the resources and the recording of the previous extended online version can do so here.

Key Points:

  • Commons in a cloud storage for Canvas items
  • Can upload and download pieces to and from your courses
  • Allows you to promote your material to the Canvas Community if you choose to do so