This post is a review of the conference experience by FMS TEL members John Keogan and Andy Stokes.
This years conference was going to be a bit different to any conference we had ran in the past, the decision was made for the 2022 conference to be hybrid! We would run in-person presentations, online only sessions, and some sessions would be a hybrid of both. We were excited to take advantage of the video-conferencing technologies on offer within the University.
Using lessons learnt from last years online version, we set out tasks to complete and deadlines to meet.
We divided the main tasks between us and ran through the list of jobs involved in preparing for the conference. We quickly realised that there was lot more involved than we initially thought!
The main tasks included:
communications (including mail merges)
creating online conference materials
One aspect of the preparation was getting word out about the conference. We approached schools within the faculty and asked them to put up posters in areas with heavy footfall, as well as staffrooms. We put up posters in cafes, corridors and even lifts – please let us know if you saw them! We also requested that the campus messaging screens carried information about the conference in FMS areas.
Consider your criteria before booking, for example:
‘Is the room big enough?’
‘Do the speakers work?’
‘Can we connect a laptop to the projectors?’
The room bookings website is not always accurate when you nominate the relative criteria; i.e. ‘Hybrid’, ‘videoconference’ etc.
Give yourself enough time to visit the rooms in person (It’s also worthwhile booking the rooms for when you plan to test them, as they can be snapped up pretty quickly in term time).
Reserved your rooms well in advance!
Contact the Audio Visual team for a demonstration of the hybrid technology. They showed us how to set up and use the cameras and mics, and also how to troubleshoot common problems.
Consider your booking platform and its limitations, we used workshops.ncl which required us to use an iCal maker so delegates could add the events to their diaries.
Familiarise yourself with video editing software. As a team we edited the recordings using a mix of ReCap, Premiere Pro and Adobe Rush.
Schedule a block of time to review captions. We have some excellent posts on how to edit your captions.
Overall, the conference was a great success and we all enjoyed our time being part of the 2022 FMS TEL Conference team.
Being new to running a conference we developed skills and knowledge during the journey. The encouragement and support from our team helped ensure that we fulfilled our tasks and that looming deadlines were met.
We learned things that we will do different, or better, next year and we hope the tips shared in this post will be a good starting point for anyone wanting to run their own conference.
During the FMS TEL Conference, Leonard Shapiro of the University of Cape Town presented an overview of the many ways in which people draw, dispelled myths about the ‘quality’ of a drawing, and covered some of the many ways in which drawing can be useful in learning and in communication once we stop judging ourselves on our artistic skill.
The university has a range of tools that allow us to draw for learning and communication, and draw collaboratively when teaching in person and online, such as smart boards, interactive whiteboards, and collaborative whiteboards in Zoom and Teams, as well as note making apps on devices we have in our pockets.
Drawing as a method to understand 3D anatomical structures is central to Leonard’s work – how might drawing allow your students to take a different viewpoint in your subject?
You may also wish to consider the approaches and methods used in the other linked FMS TEL videos below:
A formal case- based peer assisted learning session in undergraduate medical curriculum: Malaysian medical students’ thoughts and beliefs
Dr Alice Kurien, Senior Lecturer, NUMed Peer assisted learning (PAL) model is being increasingly implemented in many universities as an important active learning support tool to facilitate constructive learning and to enhance the confidence level of students. Several studies have identified the various benefits of peer assisted learning in undergraduate medical education, such as enjoyable learning environment, improved knowledge acquisition, teamwork, opportunity for self-assessment, and motivation to become teachers and mentors in their future carrier. One of the outcomes expected of doctors is to see themselves as teachers and mentors in their future carrier (GMC, 2015).
Peer Assisted Learning in Undergraduate Medical Curriculum-A Literature Review
Dr Vasantha Subramaniyam, Clinical Senior Lecturer, and Dr Alice Kurien, Senior Lecturer, NUMed A career in health profession does not just limit to patient care, but includes clinical teaching, research, and administrative duties. To address this effectively GMC recommends to introduce teaching to medical students (GMC,2015). Acting upon this advice, many institutions have revived and started implementing an ancient teaching methodology used by Socrates & Plato, the Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) (Topping, 1998). PAL is a broader umbrella term which includes many entities like Peer learning & teaching, Peer mentoring, Peer leadership and Peer assessments. (Henning, 2008). PAL has been noted to improve the student engagement, self confidence, performance and overall performance (Smith, 2018).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
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.
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.
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.
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!