HS Case Studies
What was the problem/challenge you were trying to address?
The Pre-Registration Undergraduate Nursing Programme used one large Blackboard site per cohort.
With multiple instructors across multiple locations, all modules (28) were within this one site. Announcements were often sent to all users when they should have been targeted to a specific group of students or a specific site.
For Instructors undertaking marking, the numerous Turnitin portals made it difficult to find work to mark, and this also applied to External Examiners reviewing work online. For students, there were a number of Turnitin portals for modules and this sometimes led them to submit to all portals they could see (just in case….) due to confusion.
What did you do/implement?
We adopted SITS-linked module sites initially for all first years starting in September 2015 (including the Working Together modules). The rationale for starting with the first years was so that this was accepted as the way they would see their modules, and not seen as a change half way through their teaching. It would become the new ‘norm’. The other programmes would continue on the old-style sites until completion.
In addition, we created a whole cohort Programme site for generic programme-level information that applied to all pathways. Information included External Examiner reports, student forum reports, job opportunities, programme overview (which included placement information, timetables and holidays) and PSRB specific information. This is a non-teaching site.
By using the module approach for teaching, communication was much more targeted and students were clear about where to look for module related information. We were also able to link to electronic reading lists.
What advice would you give to others looking to implement something similar? (positives, negatives, lessons learned
On the whole it has been a positive experience. Staff on each module know where they are posting information/resources. Marking is easier to access and the new External Examiners’ reviews have been easier to find. The module teams have reported that they enjoyed the freedom to develop their module specific sites based on the template applied, and some changed the look-and-feel of the site by changing the banner/colour schemes, etc.
Negatives: Staff needed to get used to having a long list of sites on their Blackboard My Institution page. We had to be careful about the naming of each site so that the cohort was clearly identified, as staff would be teaching the same module for both the September intake as well as the March intake.
Lessons learned: Use of groups when large numbers of students were involved was very helpful. Groups can be created which the students don’t see, but can be used for administration, for example, groups for each pathway or site of delivery. This then enables more targeted site or pathway specific information to be delivered. We could also use these groups for marking when multiple teams are working on the same module. We also discovered that a single submission portal for assignments means it is clearer for the students to submit to. Previously, we had made portals for each site and pathway and for extensions and students had submitted to more than portal when unsure which one to submit to. We were also using anonymous marking, so these errors were not immediately apparent.
Have you adapted/changed anything subsequently?
Since then, the subsequent intakes are all on SITS-module sites and staff are now used to this way of working.
What is the evidence on the impact of students and their learning?
The changes we made were not to the way that we delivered our teaching, but more to the administration and organisation of our delivery. Students just see this as the way we work, so it is difficult to measure impact. However, we are certain that students are now clear where to look for information and also, where to submit their assignments to.
What do you plan to do next?
We review the template each year to ensure that it reflects current information and is user friendly for both students and staff. Staff are being encouraged to implement further use of educational technology within their sites, such as podcasts, narrated PowerPoints and we hope to develop the use of PebblePad further within the programme.
Here is an example of one of our OLD Blackboard sites, with 27 separate Menu items:
As we used one Blackboard site for 3 years of study, the Turnitin submission points became very busy. At the end of the three years, this site had 95 separate submission points.
This is how things look now:
All teaching delivered via separate Module sites following the same stucture:
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 Blackboard
- Instructor-only discussion board for team communication
- The application of a template design, ensuring consistency across all modules
- 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.