FMS TEL Webinar – Podcasting

This webinar ran twice on 21st April 2021, and we were happy to see colleagues from across the faculty and NUMed in attendance.

The webinar covered:

  • Teaching strategies that are well-suited to audio content.
  • Types and forms of content that suit audio delivery.
  • The basics of recording audio, uploading it and making alternative accessible content (in resources).

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, please get in touch via fmstel-enquiries@newcastle.ac.uk 

View all FMS TEL Webinars

From Blackboard and Ngage to Canvas

In the summer of 2020 Newcastle University switched from Blackboard to Canvas. In truth, some online modules had been hosted on Canvas months before the official launch, but from August 1st 2020 Canvas was the exclusive Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The content that had previously been in Blackboard was transferred over to Canvas, creating three years’ worth of archives. For the majority of courses this was fine, as Blackboard was only ever a repository for course materials. For the e-learning courses offered in the FMS Graduate School and the School of Medical Education, there was an additional challenge.

In addition to Blackboard, e-learning courses also used Ngage, a bespoke VLE used widely throughout FMS. Quizzes, assignments and discussion boards could all be found on Blackboard, but Ngage was home to the actual content, typically released weekly to students. Where Blackboard content could be migrated en masse, anything on Ngage had to be migrated over manually. Page by page, course by course, for all three semesters.

The Ngage user interface.
The Ngage user interface. (Click the image to see a full size version – opens in a new tab)


Once the content was copied over, we had to adapt it to fit the new platform. Discussion boards and assignments were like for like, but certain Blackboard features such as blogs and eJournals had no direct equivalent on Canvas. This required creative problem solving to adapt Canvas to our specific needs, and with help from the Canvas Community we were able to find solutions. For example to create an eJournal, a staple of many of our modules, we had to assign every student to their own private group, and then set up a regular discussion board as a ‘group discussion’ and selecting the pre-prepared eJournal groups, thereby creating a private area for students to make notes on the different topics and have the module leader’s check over them.

The same page on the new Canvas VLE. A less clutter page with a built-in discussion board and a crisper overall presentation. (Click the image to see a full size version – opens in a new tab)


A lot of visual features and formatting were also lost during the copying and pasting process, meaning pages previously adorned with images and embedded materials had to be reworked. We utilised the web design skills of the FMS TEL Team and with a bit of creativity were able to create interactive features such as click and reveal, and visual aspects, such as shadowboxes, to help emphasise particular pieces of text.

As well as the migration of content, a huge effort was made to train University staff in the run up to the 2020/21 academic year. Training sessions that had originally been scheduled in-person were instead delivered via Zoom, covering areas such as Canvas essentials, assignments and quizzes. To supplement the training, a Canvas orientation module was created to help ease staff into the transition. Additionally, every member of University staff was assigned their own sandbox course allowing them to experiment with the new platform and test out features that could be replicated in real courses.

The Canvas orientation home page. (Click the image to see a full size version – opens in a new tab)

Now that we are exclusively using Canvas, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Despite some initial challenges with the practicalities of using a new VLE – and some trial and error – new Canvas features such as Zoom integration, built in calendars and Speedgrader have enhanced the user experience.

Dealing with extra sensitive data in the Medical Learning Environment (MLE)

Most FMS sites run by the unit contain and maintain personal data that needs to be kept private. Techniques such as securely certified websites and authentication/authorisation portals are usually sufficient in keeping this data safe.

The Challenge

With the introduction of the new year 4 in the MBBS curriculum and the move to more blended learning, a higher degree of sensitive data was required to be stored on the Medical Learning Environment (VLE for MBBS). Year 4 students are now asked to keep electronic records of patients and interactions as part of the Advanced Clinical Experience module. This data contained personal contact details such as address, telephone and email of patients the students would follow on the clinical journey, and let them reflect upon this experience throughout year 4.

So before the start of Year 4, in the summer of 2020, we investigated and implemented an enhanced way of storing this patient information in the MLE.

The Solutions

First we investigated how the data was stored in the backend database. Most information is stored in databases as unencrypted data due to the lack of sensitive nature of the data.

This new data required something else. It was decided that parts of the data that could contain personal patient information should be encrypted, both in transit and at rest.

For parts of the ACE model (the data structure we use for the ACE section of MLE) we replaced the open text fields with this new encrypted field. This now meant that when data was entered and saved, before it was added to the database, the system would replace the open text with a encrypted data set using a secure key. To read the data again it would need the use of the decrypt method, that only the MLE could do by using the secure key.

The second part we investigated was to detach any personal patient information from the student’s reflections. Once the student had completed the recording of the patient’s details, the direct link in the website was removed and generic patient information used from that point onwards to identify the individual records. This kept the sensitive information separate from the day to day recording of patient interactions.

The students also uploaded consent forms signed by patients who agreed to take part in the ACE module. Final versions of consent forms highlighted that these would also contained sensitive information.

After further investigation the development team included these static files in the encryption methods used to support ACE. In order to allow students to verify the uploaded consent forms, the MLE allows a short window before encryption and archiving of consent forms takes place. Once this process completes the consent forms are no longer accessible via the website (MLE) and recovery if required is performed by a limited number of staff in FMS TEL.

These methods used may be a little extreme for the day to day data stored on most FMS sites, but the investigations and lessons learned from the ACE data has provided us with options for other sites in the future.

If you are interested in this topic and wish to learn more, please contact:

Dan Plummer, Learning Technologies Developer, dan.plummer@newcastle.ac.uk

John Moss, Technology Enhanced Learning Manager, john.moss@newcastle.ac.uk

ReCap – Adding an Audio file to a Video

Resulting from a few queries from FMS staff, we have added some information to the FMS TEL Community detailing how to add audio to a video using ReCap.

Staff had recorded footage of processes or experiments in laboratories which they wished to add a narration over afterwards. There was existing audio or noise on the video which they did not want to include. Rather than go through the process of removing the unwanted audio, ReCap/Panopto ignores the audio if the video is uploaded as a Secondary file. Audio can only be uploaded as a Primary file.

You may want to record your audio narration first using your mobile phone or software such as Audacity on a computer with a microphone. A common format would be mp3. Then upload your audio narration as your primary file and your video as a secondary file. Any audio in your video file is ignored and the new audio you recorded will be played instead.

See the full guide ‘Adding an Audio file to a Video‘ on the FMS TEL Community course in Canvas.

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.

FMS TEL Webinar – Humanising the Online Experience

The FMS TEL team are proud to present our upcoming Webinar – Humanising the Online Experience.

Thursday 11th March
9 am-10 am and 1 pm-2 pm GMT

Many of us – staff and students – have struggled with the feeling of losing the human connections we would normally have in face-to-face teaching spaces. This webinar concentrates on how to regain some of that connected feeling. The webinar will include plenty of examples and quick tips that can help reduce the awkwardness of teaching online. The webinar will cover the following:

  • 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.

What does that mean again? Glossary Building

Why use a glossary?

“A glossary is a great reference tool for a student, especially when they’re studying material which is quite technical and contains a vocabulary which is specific to the subject.”

David McGeeney, MCR8019 Module Leader

“Well, our students come from a diverse range of professional backgrounds, are based in different countries and have different experiences.  And when you’re dealing with clinical scenarios you really can’t afford to allow confusion and misinterpretation to happen, especially where the subject material is quite technical.  Adding a glossary to ONC8004: Developments in Diagnostic Imaging in Oncology allows us to focus the webpage content on teaching and learning whilst linking to explanatory terms for those who need it.”

Victoria Hewitt, ONC8004 Module Leader

Benefits of using a Glossary

  • Ensures all students are familiar with discipline specific vocabulary
  • Provides a reliable reference tool students can use throughout their studies
  • Content can be more concise
  • Easy to create
  • Can be rolled over year after year

Making your own Glossary

It could be as simple as having a dedicated page located near the start of the content which students can reference throughout the course.

screenshot of a glossary in canvas

You can view example glossaries in the FMS Community, along with instructions on how to add navigation options such as an A-Z menu at the top and ‘Back to top’ links.