360° Hidden Hotspots for Formative Assessment

A combination of 360° interactive images and interactive hotspot formative assessment tasks have been used to greatly enhance the Health and Safety lab training materials delivered in the School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences.

Within the school, there is a range of labs used in practical sessions. In previous years, preparatory Health and Safety Materials have been distributed on paper, or via PDF, however, one of the challenges of this mode of delivery is that some students do not necessarily engage with this material, resulting in some students not being well-prepared to work in these potentially hazardous environments.

These resources have now been moved to Canvas, and are available as general basic lab health and safety training in their own module. This module is targeted at Stage 1 Undergraduate students, though Stage 2 and 3 also have full access to the module for revision purposes. The module includes training on

  • Basic Health and Safety
  • Fire safety
  • General chemical, biological and physical hazards
  • General lab safety
  • Codes of practice

As well as module resources, there are also 360 lab tours that students can use to familiarise themselves with the lab environments, clicking through the images to ‘walk’ around the lab they might be using in the future.

A low-quality version to illustrate what students see when navigating the lab in 360.

The course concludes with quizzes and some ‘hidden hotspot’ tasks that students can use to test their own knowledge in hazard identification tasks. Interactive images like the one above have extra information inserted, which means that when students click on certain areas, information is displayed.

The interactive hotspots are created using the tool Theasys – 360 VR Online Virtual Tour Creator. One of the main advantages of using this tool is that the hotspot areas are hidden, meaning students have to explore the images in greater depth to discover the hazards. While there is a cursor change when a student hovers over the right spots, this is still much more hidden than in other tools, which highlight the hotspots with circles or other icons.

After the students have finished exploring the image, they can reveal all of the hotspots to find any they may have missed, allowing them to test their own knowledge. This could be enhanced even further by setting a Canvas quiz in the module or asking students to write a summary of the hazards found.

In addition to assessing students formatively, these 3D images and hotspot tasks provide a chance for students who may be anxious about the lab environment to explore these areas virtually first. This helps to minimise the risk of students being overwhelmed by the new space. Pairing the input with the virtual tours and, crucially, the chance to check knowledge builds confidence for all students, helping them feel well-prepared and knowledgeable about the lab environments before they even cross the threshold.

Resources

Previous blog post on 360 images

Theasys

H5P is here!!

Adding engaging and interactive content to your online course materials just got easier with H5P.  

This new online tool allows you to create custom learning resources such as branching scenarios, accordions, interactive images and videos, 360 degree virtual tours, simple formative quizzes, and so much more.   

Try it out:

Below is an example of a simple drag and drop exercise.

Webinar – Getting the Most out of Discussion Boards

This webinar ran twice on 17th June 2021, and we were happy to see colleagues from across the faculty and NUMed in attendance.

The webinar covered:

  • Have a range of discussion board task ideas to incorporate into your teaching 
  • Understand techniques to encourage student engagement 
  • Be able to set up different types of group discussion tasks 

Colleagues can find the resources from the webinar – including the recording and links to further reading – on the FMS TEL Community in Canvas. If you have trouble accessing the community, enrol here first.

View all FMS TEL Webinars

Zoom and MBBS at NUMed with Fiona Clarke

This case study concerns the MBBS programme at NUMed, and the different ways interactive tools and humanising teaching techniques on Zoom has helped facilitate learning during lockdowns. Zoom tools have been used in many different ways, and tools and tips from colleagues, internet searches, and the FMS TEL Humanising the Online Experience webinar have helped enhance these sessions.

From Beginner to Teacher

The prospect of teaching online can be quite daunting, especially if you don’t already have a lot of interest in or experience with the technology. Initially Paul Hubbard offered a help session for Zoom, which was a great help and provided inspiration on how to use the different tools in teaching. With practice, a lot of skills were developed and put into practice with students. After hearing about how Zoom is used in these MBBS sessions, colleagues now come to ask for advice based on the techniques and tools that have been used, and it’s great to be able to provide that for them now.

Humanising the Online Experience in Practice

Turn off Self-View

Some students are very shy, and a range of techniques can help them build their confidence. One among these is turning off self-view in Zoom, which only takes a couple of clicks. This is useful when teaching as well, as your own image can get a little distracting. At first you might worry that you are fidgeting without being aware, but it soon becomes easy to remember that you are still on camera. Students who had initially struggled with presentations or speaking in front of others did become more confident after these interventions, and after getting more comfortable with the Zoom environment.

Encouragement to Switch on Cameras

One thing that has worked very well is giving a lot of deliberate positive feedback to students about switching on their cameras. At the start of sessions students are greeted warmly and the benefits of having the camera on are shared. More importantly, efforts are made to share how lovely it is to see their faces when they do turn the camera on. Even saying something like ‘it’s so nice to see you’ or ‘I’ve missed seeing you all’ as cameras come on encourages others. Since making this deliberate extra effort, a lot more students turn on their cameras during sessions, which helps lift the atmosphere.

Teaching Ethics

Teaching concepts like ethics can be tricky, as they don’t lend themselves to a practical format. To help bring the subject material to life, the ethics segment of the Medicine, Acute Care and Surgery course was previously presented in a very interactive format in person. Students used flipcharts to collate information, moved around the room, worked in groups, did card sorting activities… initially this seemed difficult to replicate online, but it was possible to adapt the sessions using Zoom tools like polling, breakout rooms for group work, and interactive whiteboards.

Approximating In-Hospital Experience

One thing that has been a challenge for the programme is the lack of access to hospitals due to the pandemic, especially for The Hospital-Based Practice course. This is normally case-based, interacting with real patients. The decision was made to create staged patient interactions. These sessions work a bit like branching scenarios in that what the student chooses to do guides the rest of the interaction. A ‘patient’ acts from a script on the Zoom call, and the lecturer can coach the student through the interaction and offer feedback. If the student chooses to, for example, listen to a patient’s breathing, the lecturer provides a sound file of what the student hears when they do so. While this can’t perfectly replicate what it’s like on a ward (patients don’t follow a script!), students still get the chance to practice skills like decision-making and explaining diagnoses.

Advice

The best advice is to try things out and experiment in a Zoom meeting on your own, or with colleagues. Even if you have used a tool before, if it has been a while, just start up an empty Zoom meeting and refresh your memory before it’s time to go live. Google has also been invaluable – it’s possible to fix common issues or refresh your memory by finding software instructions online. Finally, don’t be afraid to try out new tools with students. The interactivity tools such as polls and whiteboards can help bridge the gap and make sessions more engaging.

“Don’t be afraid, just try it out! It’s so worth it, it makes such a difference.”

Fiona Clarke

Resources

Contact

Dr Fiona Clarke, Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer in Medicine, NUMed

Fiona.clarke1@nhs.net

Planning Learning

As part of my own research to pass on to colleagues, I recently attended a Future Learn course “How to Teach Online” where this planning tool was demonstrated. I thought colleagues may find it to be of interest.

Learning Designer helps you plan different types of activities for your students. It allows you to organise a blend of online and face to face activity. These are called TLAs, or Teaching and Learning Activities. There are 6 different types to choose from

  • Read, watch, listen
  • Collaborate
  • Discuss
  • Investigate
  • Practice
  • Produce

You can add resources such as links to videos and websites.

It produces a helpful pie chart showing the proportion of activities the students will experience.

You can download your plan as a word document or share it with a link.

Have a go with the Learning Designer Tool yourself at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/learning-designer/designer.php (Links to an external site.)  The video below talks you through how to use it.

More information is available on the Learning Designer Website https://www.ucl.ac.uk/learning-designer/index.php (Links to an external site.) 

A User Guide is also available at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/learning-designer/guide/

Using discussion boards

Discussion boards seem like a good idea, especially when students are distant to campus as posts should be able to increase collaboration as well as socialisation. But so often students fail to use them despite the work staff put in to set them up. So how can we engage our students to post on the online discussions?

What are your goals?

Before you set up a discussion board, consider what your goals are, as well as what the students might expect to get out of using the discussion board. Are you trying to check student knowledge and understanding? Develop better contact/collaboration between members of your group as a community? Answering queries? All of these and more…

Decide what you and your students should get out of discussion board use, and then think of tasks accordingly. For example, you could start with an icebreaker board to help socialisation, not necessarily related to the course, such as ‘using the student lists provided, contact two other group members and with their co-operation find out and post two facts that no-one else will know about them’. This promotes a feeling of safety when posting; without this safety students seem as shy as when being asked to talk in class.

For knowledge and understanding activities it is better to use reflective tasks rather than knowledge answers which may end up very similar to each other. For student questions on course content, and especially assessment, set up boards which can be contributed to anonymously: this provides a safe space without risk of ridicule.

Example of discussion boards in Canvas

Manage expectations

If you expect students to contribute to the discussion boards, tell them so, both in synchronous sessions and on Canvas. But make it easy for them to contribute by having tasks which encourage participation. Boards which students know will contribute to learning for assessment are likely to receive more posts. If you just ask for knowledge answers, the answers tend to be given in full by keen students, with later posts being ‘ditto’ rather than useful commentary, so make them apply their knowledge in some way.

Also remind them about netiquette; good manners online is just as important as in face-to-face situations. This also contributes to the idea of a safe space for posting in.

Teaching presence

When you set up your discussion boards you need to decide how much input you need, and are able, to provide. No input is not an option if you expect students to post because it is demotivating as a student to not receive some sort of feedback or encouragement. As part of expectations management, let students know how often you will look at the board, and if you will provide class or individual feedback. If you have a large class you won’t have time to read every post. You might like to consider putting students into groups with a spokesperson in each group to summarise the group’s posts for you to read. Or get students to peer review each others’ comments. You can weave their answers into one feedback post.

When you comment, try to keep the discussion going, rather than just providing the answer which tends to kill any further discussion: think commas rather than full stops. Ask open questions to keep the discussion moving on, and make it human (‘I always find this difficult….’ when the class is struggling).

Discussion board example (used with permission): ask questions to elicit further responses

You will always have some students who ‘lurk’, failing to post anything at all themselves. You can minimise this by making the discussion boards a safe space for posting, and providing encouragement to participate with enthusiasm for the subject and student contributions.

Overall, discussion boards are a useful tool to keep an eye on student learning and engagement, although they do require much staff input to ensure student participation.

Randomness

As part of our Humanising the Online Experience webinar, we suggested the use of name selectors to take the decision-making out of selecting a student to answer a question. We recommend you use this only when you have gotten to know your students well enough to know how they respond to being asked questions by name. Using a randomiser tool can also reduce the feeling that the teacher is ‘picking on’ a particular student too often – both for the teacher and the students!

There are a lot of online tools available, such as:

The slight hitch with using these is that they are not reusable – you need to paste the names in every session.

It’s possible to create one of these yourself using Excel, which you can then save and re-use for the class time and again. A 2-minute tutorial for this, and an example file, is available on the FMS TEL Canvas Community. If you haven’t got access to that community in your Canvas yet, first enroll here.

Of course, you can use these tools for more than just selecting names. You could use this to randomly assign cases for students to study, or assign group roles. You can use them to generate lists of anything in a random order by noting outcomes.

During icebreaker games or other tasks, you may want to try a heads-or-tails or dice-roll randomiser, and there are many other randomising tools available on Random.org.

Case Study: Adapting a course for a larger cohort

Guest post by Sue Campbell from the FMS Graduate School, Module Leader for ONC8024: Chemotherapy Nurse Training.

The Challenge

In December 2020, we were informed that Lancashire Health would be sending their Nursing students to study our course, which was due to start in February 2021. We had already seen an increase in our own numbers so with these additional students we were going to be expecting a much larger cohort than usual. The increase was in part due to the COVID situation and study leave cancellation in the NHS. We needed to investigate if the course structure would be suitable for 50 students instead of the usual 10-15 we had taught in previous years.

What did you do?

We reviewed each activity and imagined how it would work with 50 students. Activities that students completed on their own such as crosswords and quizzes were fine. 

Our main concern were the collaborative wiki tasks – these are pages within Canvas, usually involving a table, that students completed together to create a resource. We wanted to keep these tasks as they encouraged teamwork, but the tasks were not suitable for 50 students to be able to contribute. After discussing the problem with others who have experience of working with larger cohorts we came up with a solution. 

With help from the FMS TEL Team we were able to separate the students into groups of 10-15 students and provide each group with their own collaborative wiki task to complete. Once the course began we experienced registration issues so students were all starting at different times. We decided to adjust the groups so the late starting students would be in the same group and would not feel left behind.

“It’s about finding solutions you are not aware of; groups was a really quick and effective fix for what I envisioned to be a much larger problem.”

We wanted to keep the discussion tasks as they worked well in the past but would they work with large numbers? We went through each discussion task and made changes. 

Where we had previously asked students to discuss three points, we changed so students could choose one discussion they could take part in but were able to view all discussions. 

Modified Discussion Board: Before and After

We decided to change the scenario discussions into branching activities instead. The questions asked in these discussions had only one right answer and were more of a fact checking exercise than something the students discussed. Students could complete the branching activities independently, so cohort size did not matter, but the objective of the task was still achieved. We also added a presentation to summarise the learning from the scenarios which replaced the interaction from the Module Leader that would have usually occurred on the discussion board at the end of the week.

Branching Activity

Tips

  • Ask for advice – I spoke with the FMS TEL and Programme Teams and they provided several solutions I wasn’t aware of. I also spoke with our DPD, Victoria Hewitt for marking help
  • Consider running the module twice a year if numbers/demand remains too high to sustain within one cohort
  • Branching activities will work regardless of numbers so we can easily roll those over year after year now
  • Groups in Canvas is easy to turn on/off and adjust depending on numbers

What might you do differently next time?

We shall wait and see the student feedback but we are currently in week 5 of the course and so far it is going well and the group work is successful. Some things we are thinking about are:

  • We have a lot of activities, but they are now largely peer to peer or independent tasks so to bring back the teacher presence I would like to include more videos and presentations
  • We do provide a general Q&A discussion board, and for the rest of the course we are also introducing fortnightly, 10 minute 1:1 Q&A bookable slots via zoom for any students preferring a one-to-one discussion with the tutor.

Resources:

FMS TEL Webinar – Humanising the Online Experience

This webinar ran twice on 11th March 2021, and we were happy to see colleagues from across the faculty and NUMed in attendance.

The webinar covered:

  • Setting and maintaining expectations for online teaching and interactions.
  • How to make your synchronous sessions feel more like PiP interaction.
  • Simple strategies to be more present in non-synchronous aspects of your course.

You can find the resources from the webinar – including the recording and links to further reading – on the FMS TEL Community in Canvas.

View all FMS TEL Webinars

Communities of Practice and Building a Professional Identity

I was able to present an instance of FMS Journal Club in February 2021, and chose to present the paper Medicine as a Community of Practice: Implications for Medical Education (Cruess, Cruess and Steinert, 2018).

“Communities of practice can guide the development of interventions to make medical education more effective and can help both learners and educators better cope with medical education’s complexity.”

Cruess, Cruess and Steinert, 2018

The paper suggests the framework of the Community of Practice (CoP) for activities in medical education, specifically, cultivating a sense of belonging and professional identity associated with that community.

The authors put forward a long list of recommendations as to how CoPs as a framework can be embedded. The area I was most interested in was that of helping people to join these communities, particularly in relation to forming professional identity.

One of the key elements is that of regular meaningful interactions. This goes beyond simple matters of curriculum, but also incorporates something of a pastoral side. As well as bolstering students’ confidence in their skills, these interactions help students to form their identities as aspiring professional practitioners.

While video conferencing software offers a fairly rich interactive experience, there are many non-synchronous tools that provide arenas for interaction as well. The tool chosen is not the most important part – the important part is the regular, high-quality authentic interactions that can be facilitated between students and others with more experienced positions within their communities of practice.

What does this look like in practice?

  • Explicit acknowledgement of the difficulties faced when building a professional identity
  • Regular engagement with online discussions / Q+A / chat rooms
  • Unstructured / less structured time for students and teachers to talk less formally
  • Engagement with formal mentoring processes
  • Encouragement for students to form supportive relationships with one another

Further Resources

Communities of Practice overview from original authors

Journal Club (Newcastle University login required)

Medicine as a Community of Practice: Implications for Medical Education

Liaison Librarian team Case Study previous blog post on CoPs

Upcoming seminar for staff: Humanising the Online Experience

Building Community – Case study concerning connecting PhD students with one another and staying on track.