CASE STUDY SERIES: Alison Hampson Head of Department, Health,Psychology and Social Studies

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Digital Health Modules: A Unique Approach to Module Development

Following the successful first delivery, Andrea Charters (AQD) interviewed Alison Hampson about her experience of designing and delivering the innovative Digital Health modules.

The Digital Health modules were a brand new delivery intended to give an in-depth understanding of how technology can be used to support health and/or social care outcomes. The modules were designed to support the fast developing area of Digital Health within the NHS, and are aimed at individuals interested in developing technology within the health and social care arena.

Alison felt that, the “digital nature of the modules required the wider use of available technologies as, in my view, if you are going to encourage people to use digital health what better way to get them thinking in that direction than experiencing and taking part in digital learning”.

However, the subject was so large that Alison didn’t feel that any one person had all the required skills, and thus, she believed she would get much better results from an interdisciplinary team approach using the expertise of different people. Alison was particularly keen to include the services of an AQD Learning Technologist as I she wanted to deliver a module which was both cutting edge and demonstrated our expertise to enhance the student experience.

“The team approach proved to be very successful and we delivered the modules using various formats” such as:

  • Videos uploaded to a discussion board; each student created a short film sharing their reasons for joining the module and future plans for development which were uploaded to a discussion board for comment by tutors and peers
  • External presenters recorded via Skype for Business uploaded to Medial and streamed via Blackboardskype
  • Instructor-only discussion board for team communication
  • The application of a template design, ensuring consistency across all modulestemplate
  • Staff discussion board; capturing comments from students and reflections on deliveries i.e. lessons learnt
  • Lectures were recorded and uploaded to Blackboard

This, in turn, developed individual team members’ confidence and experience of using different approaches and delivery methods.

Q. It was rewarding to see how ideas were developed and translated into actions, and new approaches embraced, what was the enabling factor?

The support we received; talking theoretically about the types of technology available is really interesting but getting it into operation is where you (AQD) have really helped us. The team may have had an idea but you have been able to give us the mechanism to translate ideas into action and advise us how to do it. For example, students uploading the videos they had taken on their phone to the Blackboard site via a discussion board, because you have the expertise on exactly how that was done you wrote the guidance and uploaded it to Blackboard. This made it much easier and we can now do that in future modules, the information you created can be reused.

Q. I have noticed that some members of the team are expanding the experience with digital health into their own modules.

I took on this module in this context because of the opportunities to learn from each other and for the benefits it would bring to everyone, myself included. We had people in the team that were used to working with you and your service so were motivated to take that further, we had people in the team who haven’t done as much face to face teaching and people who have got less experience of digital health.

It was also an opportunity to update my own knowledge of running a module which is good for me as a Head of Department in terms of future developments, I can now take forward ideas and bring digital technology to the forefront of my mind when considering future opportunities.

Q. Is this a format that can be used across all programmes, not just when the topic is around digital health

Definitely, I have discussed this with one of the team and we consider this to be an almost best practice approach as it’s the whole team working together, developing ideas, applying various delivery methods and evaluating outcomes.

It’s a model that I’m sure we would all love to roll out across all the modules due to the benefits, however consideration should be given to:

  • Appropriate level of team communication/time constraints
  • Workload balancing model – will the hours be accurately reflected?
  • Team agreed working methods

I do believe this would be an effective approach for modules running for the first time, for example following validation.

Student feedback on the modules has been very positive, and engaging with the technology has built their confidence. They have commented very, very positively on the different things we’ve used such as Skype for Business for the presentations. Skype For Business has probably allowed us to have a better range of presentations as we wouldn’t have been able to get the experts into the classroom. It’s thrown up the practicalities of using Skype; the pros and the cons as to what works as well also how you can get round problems.

The team included Alison Marshall, Director- Cumbrian Centre for Health Technologies, Health and Science, Susie Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy, School of Rehabilitation & Public Health, Elaine Bidmead, Research Fellow, Cumbrian Centre for Health Technologies, Andrew Sullivan, Development Manager (CaCHeT), CaCHeT and Andrea Charters, Senior Learning Technologist, AQD.

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