Digital education honeycomb feel and look

Welcome to the Digital Education Blog

The purpose of this blog is to provide a centrally supported space to capture and share digital education practice from across King’s College London. It’s a community contribution blog for individual and teams working in this area and provides an opportunity to promote initiatives to a broader audience, both internally at King’s and externally across the sector. 

At its core is the goal to acknowledge both good and bad experiences in our use of Digital Education. The comments are open, so we encourage discussion with the intention to provide a balanced view

Continue reading “Welcome to the Digital Education Blog”

Evaluation and Reflection

Gauging student engagement and understanding remotely – some tried and tested methods

The rapid pivot to a re mote education format during the 2020 pandemic, necessitated an agile approach to teaching and assessment. With bioscience class sizes ranging from ~25-720 students, ascertaining how well students understood taught concepts, was an essential yet challenging task. Despite the diversity of class sizes and subject areas, some tried and tested methods were found to be more effective and user friendly, for both our students and staff.

Asynchronous delivery of didactic lectures as recorded lessons, led to clear student benefits (e.g. ability to control viewing pace and availability of closed captions). However, the ability of staff to get an at-a-glance view of how well students were engaging and understanding that content, was not straightforward. Whilst KEATS provides a log and activity reports of who has clicked on a resource, it clearly cannot tell you how well they engaged with it.

Gauging student engagement 1

Synchronous live online sessions were designed to provide an opportunity for students to raise any concerns and questions that arose from their asynchronous recorded lessons. Unfortunately, the nature of the live virtual classroom meant that staff could not readily ‘see’ students who were disengaged or struggling in the same way they would in an actual classroom.

Challenges arose when it came to running these live sessions, including the need to accommodate multiple time zones, unpredictable bandwidth issues, navigation problems in and out of breakout rooms and varied levels engagement with live polling or Q&A. These all rapidly ate into the timetabled teaching hour, whichoften meant only a fraction of the original intended learning outcomes were covered.

Teaching staff soon recognised the need for significant pre-planning, post class reflection and an adaptive approach in order to future make sessions as educationally valuable and inclusive as possible.

Within the department of pharmacology many approaches were tried but one universal approach emerged as being a particularly effective way to encourage students to review taught content and assess their understanding, without over burdening them with activities. This approach simultaneously provided granular information to staff about individual student engagement and understanding.

Students were provided with thematic quizzes, questions or set a problem at the end of a series of recorded lessons – recapping a number of key concepts. This approach appeared preferable to a quiz at the end of each lesson which tended to be onerous and often had poor uptake.

For my level 6, 30 credit module, 3 quizzes were created recapping the 3 major taught themes covered during the term. Students were directed to the MS-Forms link in KEATS positioned below the asynchronous lessons for that theme. Students were typically given 1 week to 10 days to complete this before the live consolidation session.

Thematic quizzes and student answers were then reviewed in a live follow up session chaired by the tutor but necessitating live student interaction.

Preferred formats to create the quizzes were the KEATS quiz functionality or MS-Forms. The breadth, depth and number of questions were dependent on the topic and the class size for different year groups but I opted for about 5 short answer questions which could then be explored in more detail in the live follow up.

The format of this activity meant that those students who wished to fully engage were able to do so – submitting complete answers to all questions, prior to the live session. Similarly, those students who preferred to take a cursory look at the questions but engage verbally in class were free to do so. Finally, those students who were less confident in engaging in the live session, had the opportunity to read the questions (which highlighted what they should know) and then passively engage with both the tutor and their peers during the live session.

Gauging student engagement 2

Gauging student engagement 3

Deidentified answers were occasionally shown during the live session and as a tutor I was able to illustrate the diversity of students answers, draw attention of specific elements within those answers and highlight areas of interest e.g. praising a student for a solid, accurate answer or expanding on an answer to provide more depth or correct any common misunderstandings.

Gauging student engagement 4

A review of pre-submitted answers allowed me to prepare better for the live session – allowing me to rapidly recap topics where students seemed confident in their understanding whilst spending more time on concepts where students were struggling. This allowed all learning outcomes to be covered within the timetabled session. At the end of the session, indicative content for each question was made available providing more support for both active and passive learners.

Importantly, as a tutor, I was quickly able to ascertain 1) which students were actively engaged on the module – using the quiz analytics and noting live interaction 2) the depth and degree of understanding that students had about the key concepts from their answers, such that I could adapt future teaching accordingly supplementing content/resources where necessary.

Irrespective of the class size or year group, 3 modules within the pharmacology department recorded 50-62% engagement with quizzes prior to the live session and, for my module, there was 100% attendance at the live sessions.

It takes significant time and effort to create/record content and design and plan the synchronous sessions. This should be factored in when preparing for content for a module.

Coupling thematic quizzes/exercises with a live consolidation supported active and passive learners. Live sessions encouraged peer to peer learning, overseen by a tutor. This approach simultaneously allows the tutor to gauge student engagement and understanding in a remote learning format.

Written by Manasi Nandi

Manasi Nandi is a Reader in Integrative Pharmacology. She teaches undergraduate and postgraduates, primarily in the departments of Pharmacology and Pharmacy. Manasi is the departmental digital education lead and sits on the Digital Accessibility Task and Finish group. This group has created and is currently implementing a set of baseline standards to ensure all digital content is fully accessible for all staff and students.


HyFlex 3

Part 2: Teaching in the HyFlex Classroom: Benefits and Challenges

This article has been divided in two parts. Part 1 explains what HyFlex is and which are the key points to consider before using it. Part 2 presents a wide range of teaching activities that can be used in a HyFlex classroom. Continue reading “Part 2: Teaching in the HyFlex Classroom: Benefits and Challenges”


Part 1: Teaching in the HyFlex Classroom: Benefits and Challenges

This article has been divided in two parts. Part 1 explains what HyFlex is and which are the key points to consider before using it. Part 2 presents a wide range of teaching activities that can be used in a HyFlex classroom.

Continue reading “Part 1: Teaching in the HyFlex Classroom: Benefits and Challenges”

Kaltura Padua 4

Part 2: Kaltura at the University of Padua

This article has been divided in two parts. Part 1 discusses the background and training required for implementing Kaltura, as well as the reasons and methods for using it. Part 2 discusses the benefits of having a university video platform and strategies for student engagement. Continue reading “Part 2: Kaltura at the University of Padua”

Mediaspace Padua 1

Part 1: Kaltura at the University of Padua

This article has been divided in two parts. Part 1 discusses the background and training required for implementing Kaltura, as well as the reasons and methods for using it. Part 2 discusses the benefits of having a university video platform and strategies for student engagement. Continue reading “Part 1: Kaltura at the University of Padua”

Automation 3

Using Automation to Facilitate Flipped Learning

With the move to fully online teaching, it soon became apparent the most advanced KEATS (Moodle) training session, KEATS 3: Personalising the Learning Experience, was not appropriate for synchronous delivery. The session was re-designed as a completely flipped session, but attendees would often miss the pre-work instructions. The use of Microsoft Power Automate was explored to automate instructional emails, but the uses of the tool were further reaching than initially considered.  Continue reading “Using Automation to Facilitate Flipped Learning”


HyFlex physiology practicals during lockdown

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for new flexible approaches to teaching and learning to ensure excellent student experience. One aspect of both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in physiology, that has been most affected, is the delivery of practical classes and skills teaching. This experiential mode of teaching is invaluable in supporting the taught, theoretical component of Bioscience education.

HyFlex teaching environments allow a combination of in-person and remote delivery ensuring no student is disadvantaged in terms of learning experience if they are unable to attend taught classes in person. It also allows such teaching to be recorded for upload and later reviewed by students to support learning. There are limited HyFlex teaching high spaces available across the College which are currently restricted to classroom spaces. We believe that greater availability is required to facilitate practical and laboratory skills training.

Whilst we had already recorded high quality videos of all the practical classes for our MSc course, in preparation of online delivery we were aware that this mode of education works best with supplementing a hands-on experience. Therefore, we sought a way for the students to gain some experience in the essential laboratory skills needed for understanding of the key mechanisms underpinning our teaching as well as providing skills training in techniques they would require in later modules on the MSc and in their research project.

During semester 1 in the current academic year (October 2020), we successfully ran 8 HyFlex teaching sessions in our teaching laboratories in the Centre for Human Applied Physiology (Shepherds House, Guys Campus).


Figure 1 A) The Lab setup for a cardiovascular practical class showing camera, equipment, and screens. B) the class in action with a tutor demonstrating equipment and skills with live feed streaming over Teams.

We used commercially available low-cost portable equipment (owned by the authors) open-source software (Open Broadcast Software, OBS) to create a bespoke HyFlex teaching environment in one of our teaching labs following a full risk assessment.

As shown in Figure 2, i) two webcams (one for a wide-angle camera and one, mobile camera, for images of equipment and participants); ii) a radio microphone to ensure clear audio on both the recording and live stream and, iii) a PC laptop to run the software required for the experiment being undertaken and for video and audio mixing and broadcast were used.


Figure 2: Setup of equipment using standard office supplies, open-source software, and staff-owned equipment.

All the sessions were recorded and uploaded to KEATS for revision purposes.

This approach was used for our module 7BBLM004, Cardiovascular and Respiratory Physiology, which forms a core part of the MSc in Human and Applied Physiology.

Due to social distancing and limits on room capacity we repeated each practical on 4 occasions during each day of teaching, with several students joining for both their in-person session as well as the remote HyFlex session at a different time point in the day.

The students were incredibly supportive and grateful for the opportunity to receive some practical teaching, particularly as some were unable to join the in person practical classes. Feedback from the students confirmed that the classes were beneficial and that the participants felt safe while on campus and in the classes (Figure 3).

Figure 3 – Feedback from students following the HyFlex practical sessions.


We believe this approach offered enhanced participation to on-campus activities by those students who cannot attend in person for courses and modules which have a significant laboratory practical component.

Written by Dr James Clark & Dr Ged Rafferty

Dr James ClarkDr James Clark is a Reader in Human & Applied Physiology and Education Lead for the School of Cardiovascular Medicine andSciences. He currently runs the Human & Applied Physiology MSc. James supports a blended approach to education in HE and has been the recipient of a King’s award for innovative teaching (2017) as well as the Physiological Society Otto Hutter Prize for Excellence in Physiology Education (2019).


Dr Ged RaffertyDr Ged Rafferty is a Reader in Human & Translational Physiology in the Centre for Human and Applied Physiological Sciences He is currently the lead for 7BBLM004 Cardiovascular and Respiratory Physiology and will assume the lead for the MSc in Human & Applied Physiology in 2021-22.  Ged is an advocate for experiential learning and the benefits of practical teaching in human physiology.



HyFlex King's College

ReFlexions on HyFlex

In 2020 we used HyFlex technology in our Research Skills in Pharmacology workshops to recreate the interactivity of class discussions. It allowed students in the classroom to interact with students thousands of miles away, but couldn’t fully recapture the dynamics of small group discussions with everyone in the same place. Continue reading “ReFlexions on HyFlex”

Staff online collaboration 1

Tech Test Thursdays for Digital Capabilities

When the Covid-19 pandemic put us fully online, colleagues in King’s Academy needed to expand our repertoire with a range of evolving technologies. Since we lead educational development programmes and sessionswe strive to demonstrate intrepid, successful designs which make best use of our learning environments. In the foreseeable future those environments would be digitalThis post gives a rationale for carving out regular time to test things out togetherfollowed by details about how we set this up to be low-maintenance.   Continue reading “Tech Test Thursdays for Digital Capabilities”

Student Media Assignments 1

Using student media assignments

In her chapter in the recently published book ‘Languages at work, competent multilinguals and the pedagogical challenges of COVID-19’, Cecilia Goria describes the positive response of staff to the enforced move to teaching online due to the pandemic. This phase was described as Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) – the quick unplanned response to the lockdown. Hodges et al. (2020) describe the speed with which this move to online instruction happened is unprecedented and staggering’.  Continue reading “Using student media assignments”