Teaching innovation at Keele School of Pharmacy


The KAVE (Keele Active Virtual Environment) is a 3-dimensional virtual environment. It is used to teach pharmacology, showing the mechanism of drug action. Students can view in 3D how drugs bind to their target. We have shown that this improves student learning (http://www.ajpe.org/doi/pdf/10.5688/ajpe77111). It can also be used to teach anatomy and houses the "Virtual ward" and "Virtual patient".


KUiz is some software we have developed ourselves. It allows us to convert teaching material into quizzes which students can use to study online or on their smartphone.

Online audio / visual lectures

We have recently introduced a new teaching method in some pharmacology teaching. Students are provided with a narrated video of the material prior to the teaching session. Subsequently a workshop is held to discuss the video in which students can raise any questions. The same material forms the the basis of a KUiz (see above), reinforcing the student’s learning.

Teaching pharmacology through student simulations

We demonstrate drug-receptor interactions through a unique role play that we have developed at Keele. This allows students to gain an appreciation of the dynamic nature of drug-receptor interactions. We have published this simulation (http://pharmacyeducation.fip.org/2013/03/chairs-bells-and-students-a-novel-method-to-simulate-and-teach-molecular-interactions-in-pharmacology/) and a video demonstrating this can be found below.

Synoptic projects

Synoptic projects are a form of assessment which encourage students to integrate an entire year’s learning. For example, in the second year, students simulate the process of drug-discovery and development. Students are provided data about the pharmacological function of a novel compound and use this to propose its use as a novel medicine. To do this, students are required to integrate knowledge from all parts of Stage 2 of the MPharm, including medicinal chemistry, analytical chemistry (with regard to chemical characterisation and broader aspects of quality assurance), formulation and manufacture of medicines. This integrates learning in pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, medicinal chemistry and pharmacy practice.

IPE (Inter-Professional Education)

Students take part in interprofessional activities during all four years of their MPharm. In the first year students collaborate with students from medicine, nursing, physiotherapy, midwifery, biomedical science and social work to design a poster following a patient's’ journey, and looking at where each profession has a place in the care of a patient

In the second year students take this further and look at cases where interprofessional collaboration has failed and undertake a root cause analysis of a significant failure in the NHS. Students then complete a report on the failure and make recommendations to be implemented in future to avoid similar mistakes. This work is entirely student directed with minimal facilitation from tutors.

In third year students use the Values Exchange (see below) to exchange ethical viewpoints with other healthcare professionals.

In the fourth year students use the therapeutic knowledge they have already obtained to teach physiotherapy students about the safe and effective use of medicines. In turn they are also taught by physiotherapy students about how physical therapies can be used to improve patient outcomes in various disease states such as arthritis, cardiovascular problems and neurological conditions. Students work collaboratively on real patient case scenarios to improve their knowledge and foster interprofessional understandings which will serve them well in the workplace.

Further research is being undertaken to evaluate whether or not mobile phone technology can be harnessed to facilitate interprofessional education.

Small group teaching

In the third and fourth year, students undertake a detailed study of a particular subject area (“option topics”). These are usually conducted in small groups of 5-10 students. The formats used may vary from group discussions of published scientific papers, student presentations of material they have studied independently and the production of webpages.

Blogging for awareness of current developments

In their final year of study pharmacy students use the Google+ system to share newsworthy developments in pharmacy and health-care. The posts are moderated and re-shared with the year group if they meet predetermined criteria. Students can then comment on posts and develop discussion on issues in practice. When responding to news stories from the lay press students have to apply their knowledge of the evidence base as they would when presented with a patient in practice demanding the latest miracle cure reported by the Daily Mail. Students negotiate the criteria for marking their contribution to this activity in the assessment phase of the activity. In 2012-13 approaching one thousand posts and comments were contributed to the blog on over 200 different news topics.

Running in all four years of the programme, the Exchange enables students to develop their ethical awareness and decision-making skills in a supportive and collaborative environment. Students first develop their own response to an ethical challenge, in a structured 3-step process, and then share their thoughts with others. The Exchange feeds back to students information from multiple perspectives that allows students to see how their views and decisions compare with those of others. The Exchange is also used to facilitate interprofessional education and students from different disciplines, and indeed countries, can learn about and from each other. https://keeleteaching.vxcommunity.com/


Postgraduate Teaching Innovations


On-line Modules

Keele University Postgraduate Pharmacy Courses are delivered as distance learning courses. Course material is provided in written format. Over the last two years we have been converting all of our modules into an on-line format. On-line delivery increases flexibility of learning and allows us to link students to other on-line resources to consolidate their learning. Most of our modules are now accessed via Keele’s Learning Environment (KLE). Students have provided very positive feedback on this development indicating that it is very user friendly and really convenient to have all the study materials in one place that can be accessed at any time. More recently we have produced module workbooks as iPDFs to allow students to make notes within the workbook as they are studying.



We now provide a number of key presentations relating to our programmes as podcasts available on the KLE. Some of the podcasts form part of the course induction material, others are to help students to approach the course assessments. The use of Podcasts allows students to access the information wherever and whenever is convenient for them. It also allows them to listen as many times as they need to.



We have recently introduced the use of Webinars to our courses. These allow us to present material and run workshops as we would at a face to face study day, but without the need for students to travel to Keele. The first of our Webinars evaluated well, with students and tutors commenting that the use of a Webinar encouraged them to focus more deeply on the tasks set than they would otherwise have done at a face to face study day. Students also commented that the time saved in travelling to Keele was beneficial.


Electronic Portfolios

The Pharmacy Postgraduate Team were the first in the University to use the electronic portfolio system PebblePad. Following successful use by postgraduate students, the use of PebblePad was rolled out the undergraduate pharmacy students and has now been adopted by the whole University.