Using technology to support students' engagement in online teaching and learning
Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University
Laurence Orlando is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash. She runs units around HPLC (High-performance liquid chromatography ) method development and Design of Experiments for product development, and is active in connecting industry with graduating students. During the COVID pandemic, Laurence used technology in unconventional ways in order to adapt the lecture format to an online mode. For instance, she used Zoom in order to deliver lectures. In these lectures, students were encouraged to use the annotation functionality to draw on her slides to indicate responses to her questions. Students were also expected to use the chat to take notes on the key points from her lessons. The pandemic also prevented students from physically entering the laboratory, which would have stopped them from completing their practical lessons. However, Laurence was able to use the remote control functionality in Microsoft Teams to allow students to control the HPLC machines in the labs live from their own devices at home. In this way, both domestic and international students were able to learn how to control the machines, collect data and complete their practical lessons without actually having to be present on campus. Other practical lessons that did not involve machines that could be controlled remotely were delivered by filming demonstrators completing the entire session. These films were minimally edited, with mistakes and unideal results being left in to reflect the true nature of being in the laboratory.
The process of incorporation of these technologies was not without its difficulties. Laurence highlighted that there was a large amount of trial and error to figure out how the technologies worked. Lessons did not always go to plan on the first iteration, particularly when the technology being used was not being used for its traditional purpose. This was one of the silver-linings of the COVID pandemic. It effectively served as a catalyst to increase the rate at which these technologies were learned. Now, Laurence is even considering bigger projects like an international placement project. By utilising technology in a similar way to how it was done during the COVID pandemic, students will be able to complete placements in their home country whilst learning synchronously.
Technology has also been used by Laurence to aid in facilitating group work. Working in groups to tackle large problems is one way to introduce internationalisation into a unit. However, it does not come without its issues. In Laurence’s experience, particularly around assessed work, she had multiple instances where she was required to step in and mediate issues between group members. These issues can include uneven distribution of group work, students not finishing work on time or a lack of communication between team members. To help in facilitating these issues, Laurence has utilised a technology called CATME. It allows each student to provide feedback to each other student along different dimensions of group work such as knowledge of the task, communication, ability to meet deadlines and more. Students’ marks are scaled based on the average rating they are given by each of their team members. In the Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science, this technology is used through the three years of the degree across multiple units. Students have the opportunity to view their feedback and are given suggestions on how to improve their rating. Since implementing this technology, Laurence has found that the need to mediate group issues has dropped significantly, as students have a constructive way to deliver feedback to each other and become better team members themselves. CATME can be found at the following URL: https://www.catme.org/login/index.