Lightning talks 1

In our 3rd year medicinal chemistry module we ‘flip the classroom’ with students working in teams to prepare presentations on important drug classes, in which they each weave their own individual drug story into the wider picture.

Faced with the need to convert these team events into individual online presentations we were concerned about student engagement. Would students engage with 20-30 individual presentations delivered via Teams? How could we ensure they came away with an appropriate depth and breadth of knowledge?

Our solution: Top Trumps (see if you don’t know what this is…)

In March 2020, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, it was necessary to change a synchronous study day lecture into an asynchronous online resource for students on the ‘Education Theory and Practice for Healthcare Professional’ module. Microsoft SWAY was chosen as it allowed multimedia to be used and each topic presented separately within the one resource. The SWAY contained a video, card stacks and screencasts. It was accessible through an app on a smartphone or on a laptop / desktop allowing the students flexibility in accessing the material. Each element within the SWAY was made to be five minutes or less. This was to enable the students to access the resource during short periods of free time which was important as they were working professionals who were experiencing pressures due to the pandemic situation.

The data on number of views of the Microsoft SWAY by the students showed a total of 23 views from 6 students. 6 students were enrolled to view the SWAY. It was evaluated using a Microsoft Form and had an 83% (n=5) response rate. 80% of students found it easy to navigate. 100% of students found the content clear and useful to the learning process.

This talk highlights a response to the identified gaps collaboration between schools.

Information is regularly shared between administration teams, academics and support staff, and schools have embedded a range of crisis indicators as tools, including the use of EC’s, attendance monitoring, support to study and pastoral triage.

Unfortunately, a clear and recognisable contact point for sharing, monitoring and responding to the information raised by the above tools is not available in all schools at present. As in matters of student support information sharing, is not the same as colleague communication. For example, usage of E-Vision and the personal tutor database is based on a range of different access points across schools and individuals.

In response to this KBS and the School of Law now work on an inter-school communication model. Established through a school bridge by Student Learning Support Officer Amy Hilton and Learning Development Fellow Hannah Gibbons Jones, who are connected through the HUMSS Student Journeys Working Group.

This talk aims to highlight that having a clear and consistent route of communication could reduce gaps between schools and across faculties; preventing student attrition, promoting progression and creating a positive student experience.

Coming back after a two-year teaching hiatus to a period of COVID-induced hasty transition to 'blended' learning, I turned to MS Teams as the one-stop solution to a digital delivery system. The problem was that, in 2020, the MS platform was not (and is not) fully backed, trying to do too much too quickly and not all that well. Many students still preferred the hierarchical repository style of the KLE, even if they otherwise preferred Teams for everything else.

In the end, I turned to something that has been the hub of my personal digital life for years: Notion. An upgraded wiki that is attractive and well-designed, an evolving super-platform whose most endearing feature is its flexibility and adaptability, Notion became the all-important missing link to my 'blended' teaching experience in 2020-21. In this presentation (Note: it can also be a lightning talk) I outline how Notion - and new wiki platforms in general - offer a superior combination of usability, unification, simplification, and good design - a one-stop solution for personal and classroom management that can be integrated seamlessly into the MS Teams environment but also critically enhance it.

Reflector: Catherine Chambers

Reflections of Lightning Talks 1

A collaborative learning environment requires engagement to be effective - and the School of Chemistry and Physics certainly came up trumps with their creative approach to assessment for their third-year medicinal chemistry module. In the first of three lightning talks, Tess Philips explains that they considered what might motivate and engage students - and concluded that group presentations across MS Teams wasn’t the best way forward. Students were asked to create cards based on the Top Trumps format, to evaluate drugs under specific criteria, with an element of reflective analysis involved to explain the justification for their ratings. This fun approach to re-thinking assessment beyond group presentations demonstrates how different formats can increase participation and student engagement, regardless of the subject matter.

Similarly, Rose O’Byrne’s short presentation on using Sway to deliver asynchronous learning online is a good illustration of how a simple tool can be used across teaching and learning to increase engagement. Part of the MS Office Suite, Sway is easy to use and adaptable with the ability to embed quizzes, audio clips, video and images. Rather than creating a recorded lecture, Rose, a lecturer from the School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering, explains how she combined video with text cards to encourage student interaction with the content and to support inclusive learning through delivering flexible learning in bite-sized chunks. Another benefit of Sway is that it generates quantitative data in the form of simple analytics, which alongside student feedback, provides insights into the usefulness of Sway as part of a blended learning approach.

Sharing data proved to be a valuable part of the learning process for KBS and the School of Law. The third lightning talk, ‘A Birds Eye View of Cross Faculty Bridges’ is a good example of how effective cross-school collaboration can be. The presentation explains how the two different schools joined forces to map their approaches to student support and create more consistent messaging in particular for students of combined studies, through establishing clear communication channels and sharing ideas and information that crucially supported progression and completion of studies.

The final lightning talk, ‘One Platform to Rule them All – How I Learned to Love Notion’ exemplifies student-centred learning. Professor of History Aristotle Kallis demonstrates how he uses ‘Notion’ (a database to create a customised learning environment that ‘lives’ in MS Teams but can work across platform) for his third-year urban history module. Content on Notion is tagged so it can be reconfigured in different ways according to how students want to learn for example, whether week by week, the whole directory or by lecture content or online resources.

Recording: lightning talks 1