Coming Soon: H5P

From August 2021 all colleagues will be able to create interactive content with H5P. No coding or software is required, all you need is a web browser.

Take a sneak peak at what content types are available on the H5P website (please do not create an account just yet) . Read more about the launch on the LTDS Blog.

If you would like to get early access to H5P, receive updates, or help our evaluation please Join the H5P Community.

eLearning Webinars (by eLearning Brothers)

eLearning Brothers regularly host online events for eLearning solutions, which some of the FMS TEL team attend. They own software such as Lectora and CenarioVR, and also provide some development services. They produce webinars on their own software and services, but also produce a number of more general webinars related to eLearning.

You may find inspiration in some of their webinars, which have included:

You can find upcoming events and recordings of previous events at the link below

https://www.elearningbrothers.com/elearning-resources/webinars-events (Links to an external site.) 

Setting up different types of Discussions

The FMS TEL team recently delivered a webinar: Getting the most out of your discussion boards. If you can’t access the FMS TEL Canvas community, please enrol yourself before retrying the direct link.

As a follow up to that webinar we have created follow along video guides and step by step written instructions on how to make the ideas and suggestions a reality. Our guides cover:


Voting and Polls ✅

These can be set up in around 2 minutes and no external tools are required. Students can quickly share their opinions or provide feedback in a similar format to Social Media.

Discussion Folders ?

Is your modules area looking cluttered? Organise your discussions into folders so they are easy to navigate.

Sharing Group Discussions ?‍?‍?‍?

Group discussions in Canvas can be a great option however they have the disadvantage of only group members being able to see what was contributed. If your course would benefit from groups being able to share with other groups after the task then we have 2 solutions for you.

Multiple Posting Points ??

Some courses may require students to share personal experiences. In this guidance we offer a solution for student to choose if they post to the whole cohort or just to the Teachers on the course.

Anonymous Posts ft. Padlet ❔

Currently Canvas does not allow anonymous posts. To get around this limitation we can create boards using an External Tool Padlet and embed Anonymous Padlet Boards within Canvas and the MLE.


Podcasting Case Study

As part of the research for our Podcasting webinar, I recently spoke to Iain Wheeldon in the School of Arts and Cultures about his experience running his podcast Cultural Peeps.

The resulting case study can be seen on the LTDS Case studies site, and has also been highlighted as part of the Art of the Possible.

Our webinar recording and accompanying resources can be found on the FMS TEL Canvas community. These will be useful for anyone considering incorporating audio-only material in their teaching and assessment, as well as anyone interested in listening to or creating podcasts.

If you have any trouble joining the community, enrol here before retrying the materials link.

Moving Lab Health & Safety Online

In September 2020, the School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences launched their new Laboratory Health and Safety Module.  This online package was designed to give Stage 1 students an induction into key areas of laboratory health and safety, but also as a revision resource for Stages 2 and 3. Future content development will look at additional resources specific to the later stages of study.

Development of this module required a complete redesign of laboratory health and safety resources, moving from paper-based module handbooks to interactive, online blended materials. We had to establish an infrastructure to support both staff and students with this change. We also used key design principles and frameworks to facilitate user engagement with interactive resources.

A collaborative team was formed between the Faculty of Medical Sciences Technology Enhanced Learning team (FMS-TEL) and the school of Biomedical, Nutrition and Sport Sciences (BNS) to amalgamate technological, pedagogical and content knowledge.

Our Goals

Student engagement: Academic staff were finding it difficult to monitor student engagement with the paper-based module handbook and laboratory code of conduct and wanted to have a more standardised approach to ensure that all students are aware of and complying with health and safety requirements in the laboratory.

Blended Learning: We did not want to simply replicate the paper materials into a digital format, so a lot of time was spent thinking about blended learning pedagogy.

New and interactive Resources: Access to the new VLE, Canvas, provided us with a more sophisticated platform to produce an interactive module with new approaches to learning.

Staff Autonomy: We did not want to rely on external tools and specialist software otherwise upkeep and editing would be a challenge once staff handover was completed.

The Project Roadmap below summarises key milestones from the project:

An overview of the project roadmap including project brief, design process and consultations.
Click on image to enlarge

Achievements

Clear Signposting and Navigation

The intention is that students can dip in and out of sections in whichever order they prefer. However, the laboratory safety section was divided into three ordered segments:

  • Arriving at the lab
  • During the lab practical
  • At the end of the lab practical

Multi-disciplinary

Some resources cover all three strands of Biomedicine, Sport and Nutrition so we decided to host one course for all. Subject specific materials are clearly labelled. We attempted to introduce lock and release and mastery pathways so that students would only access their own subject areas, however some students are multi-disciplinary so this did not work. Also, there was too much of a time delay with the Canvas mastery pathways function that we felt this was not appealing to students.

Humanising/Personalisation

We felt it important that students could connect with key staff members and that video welcomes would achieve this.

  • Videos from a laboratory demonstrator
  • Welcome video from Head of School and H+S Officer

Interactive Resources

It was always planned that we would use 360⁰ images to allow students the opportunity to become familiar with the laboratory environment before attending in person. This is to help alleviate some of the anxiety that our students experience when first entering a large laboratory space.

  • 360⁰ lab walkthrough tours
  • 360⁰ interactive images

Innovative assessments

Canvas enabled us the opportunity to embed and host new online interactive assessments.  

(i) 360⁰ hotspots hazard identification

We wanted to create a hazard identification exercise in a safe environment. 360⁰ images allowed us to create an interactive digital version of the laboratory with a number of hazards included. This would not have been safe or possible to do in a physical laboratory space.

The 360⁰ materials were hosted externally on theasys.io There are many tools which allow you to add hotspots to 360⁰ images but the problem is that they are never hidden. However, with the ability to upload custom hotspots in theasys we were able to create and upload a transparent image to use as an invisible hotspot.

(ii) Branching Scenarios

Branching scenarios allow students to make decisions in a safe online environment, helping them to understand the consequences of their choices.

Self-management of learning

We added features to encourage students to monitor their own progress:

  • Standalone units to encourage self managed learning and flexibility
  • Colour-coded and branded sections for ease of navigation
  • Clear learning objectives for each section
  • Section progress bars
  • Content release based on complete action e.g. minimum score in Health and Safety quiz

For future developments, we are considering how we may be able to generate course completion certificates or Digital Badges.

Student Feedback and Canvas Analytics

The new course went live in September 2020 for the start of the academic year with 1176 students enrolled. Canvas analytics indicates good interaction at appropriate times.

  • 21st Sept 28,230 page views
  • 12th October 40, 676
  • January access showed a peak of 26, 997
A data image showing a large proportion of students agreeing the module is user friendly.
A data image showing a large proportion of students agreeing the module is easy to navigate with appropriate images and accessible on all device types.
A data image showing a large proportion of students agreeing the interactive resources were helpful.
A data image showing a large proportion of students agreeing they were taught something new. And 50% of students agreeing having all three subject strands together was useful.

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

Faculty Research-Led Education Federation (FREF)

It is crucial that all academic staff including researchers, are involved in teaching at the university.  To this end, we hope to make information about what educational opportunities are out there available, as well as signposting where to find information on best practices and educational research.  FREF, or the Faculty Research-Led Education Federation, part of the Good to Great Project, has been formed to address those needs. 

In particular, we have at FMS-TEL been developing the FREF website which should provide a one-stop shop of sorts for institute-based researchers and others interested in finding information about teaching and research project opportunities.  Those who are maybe just starting out and would like an overview of the structure of the schools and institutes in the Faculty of Medical Sciences can find this information on the website.  We hope to help them identify which programmes are available that they might teach on or otherwise contribute to, for example by supervising undergraduate research projects.  We are currently working to locate the website for FREF under the Learning and Teaching section of the FMS Sharepoint site and will also encourage colleagues to take advantage of professional development opportunities to build on the quality of their teaching. 

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

Humanising the Online Experience – Guide

A new guide has been created in the Humanising the Online Experience area on the FMS TEL Canvas Community, and can be accessed directly. You can download this document to keep a summary of the webinar tips handy, or read it below. If you can’t access the FMS TEL Canvas community, please enrol yourself before retrying the direct link.

Humanising the Online Experience

This document summarises the tips from the FMS TEL Humanising the Online Experience webinar. The full set of resources can be found on the FMS Community, including rationale, research, and links to resources. This should be read in conjunction with the University guidance and the guidance available within your school. Not all tips will be useful for all situation or all students – you know your students and can select appropriate strategies.

Objectives

  • know how to set expectations and maintain these
  • have strategies to make synchronous sessions more like PiP interaction  
  • have strategies to be more present in non-synchronous aspects of a course  

Summary

  • Humanise your teaching by being compassionate to your students and yourself.
  • Set clear and reasonable expectations, and be predictable.
  • Know your student (‘s names)!
  • Ensure student contributions are easy to make and clearly valued.
  • Be authentic rather than perfect – acknowledge the awkwardness and tech troubles.
  • Create opportunities for regular quality authentic interactions with students.
  • Appreciate the strength of video and live interaction in terms of richness of interaction, while noting that this makes it more intense to participate in.
  • Recognise the benefits of non-synchronous activities in reducing pace and intensity, allowing for more reflection and considered responses, and bridging time zones.

Expectations

Learning online is a change of culture and this needs to be recognised. Students and staff are still negotiating how the classroom works in an online context and sometimes there is a misalignment between staff and student expectations.

Expectations and Assumptions

Remember that your session may not be the only session that students are attending that day. Acknowledge the challenges of the online way of working and work with students to adapt to these. Consider:

  • A poll or survey to check what is going on with students.
  • Reach out to learners who are not engaged or are not progressing.
  • Discuss how to adapt to the online environment.
  • Draft a Group Learning Agreement together and share your expectations clearly.

Make it easy for students to access your session by being predictable. Repeat similar task/session structures and activities to cut down on instruction time.

Maintaining Expectations

Consider using a holding slide at the start of each session with session expectations on it. Repeating these helps remind students of the required standards. Include/be mindful of caveats. For example, instead of ‘Students must have cameras on at all times’ try ‘Students should keep cameras on where possible’. Encourage through gentle nudges – thanking students for complying rather than taking an ‘enforcer’ stance. Lead by example wherever possible.

Synchronous Strategies

Camera Off

You can use these camera breaks for any type of task, such as considering an answer to a question or looking at a new resource and responding. Make sure that you use clear start and end points, stay silent for some time yourself, and warn students before feedback or further input starts. If students don’t have to worry about how they appear on the camera, they can more effectively concentrate on the task. Camera-off time allows for moments away from the emotional stress of being ‘under scrutiny’, and it eases screen fatigue if the student has had other classes prior to yours.

Explain that camera-off time will be included in your session introduction and expectations. This mitigates the problem of people thinking they need to choose on or off at the beginning of the session and then stick to it, making ‘camera on’ a much less intimidating choice and allowing an easy way in for shy students.

Hide Self View

If you find your own image distracting, click on your image in Zoom and choose ‘hide self’. Note students do need to be warned that this doesn’t hide others from seeing them! This feature is not yet available in Teams, but you can always stick a post-it on your screen!

Chat

Asking students to drop their responses in the chat box allows shy students to participate more easily and allows those who prefer to learn through discussion to do that without taking over the session. Students can go back and review the chat if it is saved for them too. This is quicker than setting up a shared document.

Authenticity

Acknowledge the awkwardness of video teaching and that you understand their awkwardness too – we’re all in it together and may need to push out of comfort zones. Be animated and show your personality/humour a little – it’s OK to smile or make jokes. People always come across ‘flatter’ on screen than in person, so the extra effort is worth it. Admit if things are a little tricky or go wrong and take a moment to fix them before moving on smoothly. Suggest a five-minute break if the whole session has been halted for tech reasons so that you can fix the problem and regroup your thoughts. Have a question or little task for students in your back pocket in case of difficulties.

Icebreaking

Icebreakers almost always feel contrived but still work – acknowledge this and be encouraging as you try these activities out. Try these in small groups in breakout rooms first. You will likely need to visit the rooms and push the energy levels up initially. Whole group icebreakers can include things like asking everyone to send a reaction emoji or give you a thumbs up/down on camera in response to questions.

Wait Time

Teachers are often guilty of not waiting long enough for an answer – usually overestimating the time they have waited. This wait time feels worse in the online environment. You need to wait longer than normal online because it takes time for students to type a response or switch on their microphones. Give a long wait time for your questions and use a timer (either on screen or silently on your phone/another screen) to make sure you are giving students enough time to respond. Lengthen your wait time if students haven’t responded, and state that you are giving them more time.

Acknowledge Individuals

Start the room early and greet students as they arrive in the room – a simple hello and using the students’ names is a lovely start! Ask students to set profile pictures on Zoom (not necessarily of themselves) to help differentiate them visually if they don’t put their cameras on. This makes them more memorable individually than a sea of names in text. Explain why you are doing this. Make effort to learn and use students’ names as you would in PiP. That doesn’t necessarily mean picking on students for questions, it can be thanking them for contributions and greeting them too. Suggest students do a video/audio introduction either privately or in a shared discussion space.

Have we started? Are we done?

Normally this is done non-verbally or with body language like standing up and coming to the front or packing away notes. Clearly announce the start and end of the class time. Consider leaving the room open for a little while after class for less formal chat.

Breakout Room Strategies

Set expectations: What do they need to achieve? By when? When will you check in with them? Warn students if/how you will do this and be consistent.

Use monitoring strategies as in PiP. Visit each breakout room quickly at the start to check everything is understood, say when you will visit again and follow up. You do not always have to contribute ‘in person’ by dropping into the room – you can also drop comments and annotations on the page. Some tasks can be monitored by a Sharepoint folder in tile view to watch multiple documents being updated simultaneously. You can’t read text, but you can set up documents with visually distinctive features such as empty boxes to be filled, or items to be sorted/moved around on the page. You can also monitor web tools and documents for each group by opening each group’s document or page in a new tab in your browser and clicking between, or even tiling them in separate windows if you have enough screen space.

Non-Synchronous Strategies

In addition to the above strategies, some of which apply in a non-synchronous setting, the tips below are unique to the non-synchronous environment.

Presence

Maintain an online presence by regularly participating in discussions and giving feedback. Show students that their discussion board posts etc. are being read by someone. This doesn’t mean always being available; it just means setting aside some time to connect. Consider running an ‘office hour’ drop-in via Teams, Zoom, or Canvas chat.

Text-based interactions

Bear in mind that tone is more difficult to convey in writing than in person. Supplement your text with emojis where appropriate or if you think there is a chance of misinterpretation. If a message seems impolite consider differences in culture and language usage – English has a tendency to be full of pleases and thank yous in a way that other languages aren’t.

Scheduling, planning, linking

Ensure that non-synchronous tasks are part of the flow of learning and that the knowledge gained is referred to in synchronous sessions. Create clear learning objectives with completion linked to synchronous events or certain dates, and make sure you feed back on them. This gives the learning more value. Set time aside to clear up issues arising from non-synchronous teaching if needed.

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/