Digital competence and confidence are thought to be critical for success in higher education. However, despite a significant proportion of learning being online and evidence to counter the idea of digital nativity, these critical skills are often not explicitly taught at university. The COVID-19 pandemic outlined why it is so important for students to have the digital capabilities required to thrive in their academic, personal and professional lives. This blog reflects on the process King’s College London went through to create the Essential Digital Skills programme. Continue reading “Preparing students for success in the digital world- The process of creating the Essential Digital Skills Programme”
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”
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.
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 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 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.
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”
You might have probably noticed how students (even those who were known for being super-engaged in the classroom) tend to prefer keeping their webcam switched off during online teaching activities. This is likely to affect how we, as teachers, perceive and evaluate students’ engagement. Being able to see students’ faces and their behaviour while we teach, gives us a direct and constant feedback, and it is also likely to benefit online discussions. However, students might be reluctant to switch their cameras on, and there is no valid reason for forcing them to do so. Continue reading “What can we do when students prefer to keep their cameras off during online teaching?”
KLaSS can be used in a few ways to support staff and students at King’s, we’ll talk about how! Continue reading “What is the King’s Learning and Skills Services (KLaSS) Suite and how can it support our academics at King’s College?”
Face to face (classroom based) staff and student training and CPD can be both expensive and time consuming. Courses are delivered at fixed times, in fixed locations and offer limited flexibility for those who cannot attend the College physically. The breadth of courses is also limited by resources we have available, and the skills of staff we have delivering them. Courses can quickly become out-dated, as new software versions become available, and internal resources are not updated. Continue reading “LinkedIn Learning Implementation and Benefits Realisation at King’s College London”
Flipgrid, a social learning platform, caught my eye because it looked fun, modern, simple and similar to Snapchat. I have found that students will catch on quickly and are more likely to engage if the ‘tech’ we use for learning can subtly slot into the seamless and even subconscious way they already use technology in their everyday lives. In this post I’ll give you a quick introduction to what Flipgrid is, feedback from a couple of case studies on its uses in Teaching and Learning within King’s Foundations and its potential for further use. Continue reading “Flipgrid: Enhancing Student Voice With a Bit of Fun!”