This weeks post shares a session FMS TEL were asked to participate in a study day on the Utilising Technology in Medical Education (UTME) module offered by the School of Medical Education.
The FMS TEL team were asked to participate in a study day on the Utilising Technology in Medical Education (UTME) module offered by the School of Medical Education.
The module aims to raise students’ awareness of how technology enhanced learning is currently used in health care education and gives students the opportunity to explore technologies and investigate theoretical underpinnings. Based on these aims we put together a 3 part presentation.
Part 1 – Tools for Student Interaction
Emily introduced a number of TEL tools including; Menti, vevox and padlet. Each tool was discussed; outlining its uses, pros and cons. Current examples of content designs, interactive activities and animations used throughout the faculty were shared.
Part 2 – Collaborating and Facilitating Group Work
Michelle demonstrated how to use Microsoft 365 to co-author and co-edit documents, presentations and spreadsheets. Students were shown various features including; reviewing mode, version history and how to use Sharepoint to monitor breakout room activities.
Part 3 – Teaching Tools
Eleanor shared her experience of teaching with Zoom/Teams and tips on how to humanise online sessions. She discussed common barriers, such as awkwardness or long silences and strategies or tools to use as solutions.
Learn how to use timers in your PowerPoint presentations to aid questions and answers for students and yourself.
As teachers or trainers we can often feel the pressure to fill the silence when presenting. How long should you wait for an answer? Or a better question might be, how long do you think you wait?
Research suggests that at least 3 seconds can provide positive outcomes for both teachers/trainers and students (Rowe, 1972).
Each task may require different lengths of silence, you will want to think about the time the students will need to:
process the question
think of the answer
formulate a response
(if teaching virtually) unmute or type their response
The concern is to provide the period of time that will most effectively assist nearly every student to complete the cognitive tasks needed in the particular situation.
You may find yourself counting the 10 or 15 seconds in your head, but still the silence can feel unbearable.
PowerPoint Animations to the rescue
Using a consistent slide design with an animation will not only relieve the pressure on you to keep track of the time but also provide cues that students will become familiar with as your teaching progresses.
Below are examples and instructions for 4 different types of animations you can create in PowerPoint, ranging from super easy to slightly complex. At the bottom of this post you will find a template document of all the examples shown plus a few more complicated designs which you can download and use in your own presentations.
Example 1: Stopwatch
Insert a circle and style as required (holding shift will help you draw a perfect circle)
Add a “Wheel” animation to the circle and adjust to your chosen duration (max of 59 second)
Add the stopwatch icon (Insert > Icons > search for “Stopwatch”)
Example 2: Progress Bar
Insert a rectangle, remove the outline and choose a fill colour
Add a “Wipe” animation to the rectangle, using the effect options drop down change the direction to “From left” or “From right”. Adjust to your chosen duration (max of 59 seconds)
Insert a second rectangle on top of the first, remove the fill colour and style the outline as desired.
Example 3: Count Down
Create a text box for each number required, style as required
Add the “Disappear” animation to all text boxes
Set the first number to start “on click” with a 1 second delay
Set all other numbers to start “after previous” with a 1 second delay
Stack each text box on top of each other in the correct order, you may want to use the arrange menu or the selection pane to assist with this
(optional) Add a text box at the back stating times up
Example 4: Scrolling counter
Insert a rectangle, with no fill and an outline of your choice
Insert a text box and type in the required numbers, with a new number on each line
Add the “Lines” animation to the text box, move your text box so your first number aligns with the green arrow and your final number aligns with the red arrow (further guidance). Adjust to your chosen duration (max of 59 seconds)
Insert more rectangles above and below the first rectangle you created to hide the numbers as they scroll in and out
Rowe, M., 1986. Wait Time: Slowing Down May Be A Way of Speeding Up!. Journal of Teacher Education, 37(1), pp.43-50
Stahl, Robert J. & ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education. 1994, Using “Think-Time” and “Wait-Time” Skillfully in the Classroom [microform] / Robert J. Stahl Distributed by ERIC Clearinghouse [Washington, D.C.] <https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED370885>
This article outlines the rationale for scaffolding reflection and describes the developments, which will be available across the University by September 2022.
Structured reflective templates are currently being piloted in NU Reflect. This article outlines the rationale for scaffolding reflection and describes the developments, which will be available across the University by September 2022.
Scaffolding provides a great metaphor in Education. In the construction industry, scaffolding provides temporary support and helps shape the developing building. Scaffolding was first used as an educational concept, by Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976) to describe the support given by an expert in one-to-one tutorials – something akin to a semi-structured interview.
Scaffolding is also a useful metaphor in reflective practice. A series of questions or prompts can provide the learner with a structure to reflect on. There are many structured frameworks which can be used to scaffold reflection. Perhaps the best known are Gibb’s reflective cycle (Fig 1). This involves 6 stages, each with questions to encourage the learner to go beyond purely descriptive accounts, to incorporate reflective self-evaluation and also make plans to improve future performance.
Over time, it is hoped that the use of such frameworks will progressively increase learners’ reflective capabilities. This may be enhanced by sharing, discussion and guidance from educators, particularly in the early stages of developing reflective skills. However, like the use of scaffolding in construction – eventually that structure and support may no longer be needed, after developing as an independent reflective practitioner.
Structure can be a double-edged sword though. Too much structure can reduce engagement (everything else being equal) and long ‘forms’ may be potentially intimidating or off-putting to some. Motivation is key. Aside from the obvious use of summative assessment (itself bringing challenges to ‘authentic’ reflection) – learners need to perceive value and purpose to developing reflective practice. Is reflective practice seen to be valued by the course – is it embedded in the module/programme and referred to by teachers and in course documentation?
In some contexts, particularly many vocational subjects, reflective practice is explicitly required by professional bodies, with clearly defined process which have reflective elements, such as annual appraisals and CPD. In other contexts, without this driver, there are challenges to avoid reflection remaining an ‘abstract’ concept, particularly if there are limited ‘practical’ activities to reflect on. Obviously, clarity of purpose is important. Reflective frameworks can be used (or adapted) for a range of purposes, such as reflecting on an assessment, perhaps before and after feedback, with actions to prepare for the next assignment.
Sharing and discussion of reflection is another dimension – in some contexts, reflection may be purely private, in other contexts sharing with a mentor may be mandatory. Where shared, fostering a ‘safe’ environment for sharing and discussing reflections is particularly important for younger students, whist many (but not all) mature students are more comfortable with this.
Reflective Templates in NU Reflect
NU Reflect https://reflect.ncl.ac.uk is developed and maintained by FMS-TEL, has pedagogic support from LTDS, with academic lead (Patrick Rosenkranz / Katie Wray) and governance via DEC. NU Reflect was launched in September 2021 following a strategic review of ePortfolio. The redesign and rebranding was intended to help promote its core purpose of supporting reflective practice and transferable skills after may years of prioritising developments to support Personal Tutoring. As part of the strategic review, a recurring theme in the staff consultation was the desire for a prospective system to support reflective frameworks. Gibbs reflective cycle was the most widely used framework, used in contexts across all 3 Faculties – though often with minor adaptions for specific courses.
As such reflective templates were developed in NU Reflect and are being piloted in Semester 2 this year, with a view to being made available University-wide for 2022/3. The pilots have three ‘global’ templates available:
Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle
Driscoll Model of Reflection
Four Fs of Active Reviewing
Also, staff can create new templates to meet their particular module or programme requirements.
Structured templates are nothing new, and were common in paper-based portfolios. However, there are some key advantages to integrating them in NU Reflect. For example, the reflections can be linked to skill(s) or competency(s) (either the Graduate Framework or programme-level frameworks), which integrates them in the ‘My Skills’ section of the Website . Reflections can also be tagged with course-specified or personal categories. The tools support longitudinal use throughout the student journey, rather than been restricted to an episodic learning event or being compartmentalised in a particular module. As such a learner can accumulate reflections and achievements against skills/categories over time. They also provide choice in sharing (or not).
The pilots are ongoing, but feel free to get in touch if you want to try them out.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.