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Teaching in the 21st century: what comes next?

Source: PSE Feb/Mar 17

Terese Bird, educational designer at Leicester Medical School, University of Leicester, discusses the future of higher education, virtual reality (VR) and education apps.

After almost 20 years working to shape university teaching and learning with the help of technology, I believe that as the 21st century progresses, many aspects of teaching remain constant. Great teaching will continue to comprise communicating in challenging yet accessible ways, with a spirit that enthuses students to reach higher. 

And yet, with the enhancement of technology, great teaching can extend beyond the class session, beyond the university, beyond even what is normally visible. Leicester Medical School, for example, is extending its teaching in these ways as the first UK medical school to give each student an iPad to keep and bring to every class session. Here is our vision of the future of teaching and learning: 

  • Dissection Room and Anatomy Study: The dissection room is the place for students to learn working with real cadavers. But they prepare for this with the app Complete Anatomy, which lets them zoom in on any system or organ, flip it around, and watch lectures delivered by Stanford University Anatomy lecturers and featuring close-up animations inside the body. Using the app AnatomYouVR and Google Cardboard goggles, students can virtually travel down the gastro-intestinal tract, observing all the labelled organs and vitals. 
  • 360 degree video: Using GoPro Omni, students are working together to video in 360 degrees surgical procedures and real-life hospital scenarios such as a ‘crash calls’ (cardiac arrest on the ward). The reactions of the nurses, beeping of the machines, and precision medical procedures all happen simultaneously and can be viewed equally and focused on individually using the 360-degree system, once the video is posted on YouTube and viewed with VR goggles. Students thus mentally prepare for clinical practice and also consider what it feels like to be in the patient, the patient’s relative, or the struggling medic. 
  • Lectures: In lectures, students handwrite and type notes on their iPads onto the lecture slide file, using the app Notability and saved into Google Drive or Dropbox. When the lecturer asks, ‘what is an early symptom of meningitis?’ students use the Top Hat app to type their answers, and phrases from all 240 students form into a word cloud on the projector screen. The teacher can then literally see what the students think, correct their misconceptions and steer their thinking on the topic. The lecture becomes targeted dialogue rather than a one-way talk. 
  • Group work: Meeting in groups, students use their iPads to research cases and diagnoses, reading library ebooks online and sharing with the others what they find by casting their iPad screen onto a large monitor using Apple TV. Students are assisted and observed by a junior doctor, who makes brief feedback notes on their topical understanding and professionalism into a database via their iPad. Students can see this feedback immediately and gauge their own progress. This encourages self-regulated learning and personal motivation. 
  • Assessment and Feedback: Students do exams on completely secure iPads, exams are instantly marked and students receive personalised detailed feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. Exam feedback and group work feedback is amalgamated online so students can log in and see their learning trajectory, offering them a chance to reflect, re-focus, and further self-regulate. 

Not only does our future-yet-present vision adhere to sound pedagogical approaches, it inspires students to innovate, to see and feel things they cannot normally see and feel, and to train themselves as doctors who unswervingly study and serve in a needy and constantly-changing world.

For more information

Tw: tbirdcymru

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