Blog

Capturing hand-writing in desktop-lecture capture

As people begin planning recording materials for online delivery of lectures, one aspect to consider is the capture of hand-writing. Students have been clear with us that where lecturers normally work through problems/reactions etc, they want that to continue, and don’t want “death by PowerPoint” (albeit beautifully produced). I bought the HUE-HD camera which has a flexible arm to the camera and have been playing with options. It is relatively easy to use this webcam as a document camera for screen capturing recordings as follows. (HUE-HD does not come with Yorkshire tea.) The HUE-HD document camera should not be used…

Micro-structuring students’ learning with SMARTS

Much of our interaction with students involves structuring their work as they move through a curriculum. The very presence of a timetable is a headline structure, telling students when they will hear content on particular topics, when they will discuss it in class, and when they will work in labs. Much of my own work is focussed on micro-structuring – that is to say structuring at School level but with consideration of individual student actions. For example, in labs and tutorials, we’ve had a lot of success with structuring students work before, during, and after contact time. This means students…

Helping students manage “The 48 Hours” assessment period

Our exams begin next week, and our focus this week is getting students ready for managing themselves and their academic performance in the exam period. Two key issues from the student perspective are understanding what that 48 hours looks like for them, and giving strong guidance on keeping focussed in their exam answers. A problem with 48 hours is that it is two sleeps, not one, and we want to push a strong message of keeping up a regular and healthy pattern of sleeping and eating over the exam period, with clear advice and directions if students are looking for…

Compilation of COVID-19 Contingency Posts

I’ve received quite a lot of correspondence about the recent spate of posts and am very glad sharing my own thoughts has been helpful. I’ve listed all COVID-response posts below for convenicence and will update as new ones are added. I’ve broken them into two themes – Teaching Planning (from a whole-School perspective) and Moving Labs Online. Teaching Planning Managing and recovering from serious interruption to teaching This post was the first in the series, looking at the four stages we are working through from interruption to return to normalcy – currently at the end of stage 3…! Supporting student…

Moving early undergraduate chemistry labs online

The last post discussed an advanced physical chemistry lab, and in this one I want to summarise more concrete plans for how we can move an early undergraduate lab online. The key thing for us at early undergrad stage is teaching chemical technique, and getting students to think about recording data and drawing conclusions from experiments. An important factor is that at this stage, students probably expect that they will be learning about technique. Coming into university from school, their perception will be that they want to learn about chemical techniques, and lots of them. A problem I have summarised…

Moving a (physical) chemistry lab online

The last post discussed some epistemological considerations (roll with it) on moving chemistry labs online, sharing some concerns about trying to teach technique via fancy swipey-wipe interactions (roll with it).This one aims to be a bit more grounded. If we were to move a lab online, what might it look like? I am going to go through my first draft of thinking for moving a physical chemistry lab online below. The headline considerations for me are: (1) not to create busy work for the student for the sake of it; (2) some bits of lab work aren’t really that great,…

What is an “online chemistry lab”?

Prelude The massive shift to online teaching and learning for us in Edinburgh focussed on lectures and tutorials, as we were comparatively lucky in timing – our semester starts and ends very early in the calendar year, which meant that our students were able to complete the majority of their labs. Knowing what I have lived through over the last weeks, I empathise with educators from the other side of the world who are just beginning their teaching year, and those teaching summer semesters: I realise how lucky I am! I mention this as a prelude as I want to…

Inaugural Lecture: Supporting student learning in complex environments

In February I gave my Inaugural Lecture to celebrate the awarding of the Chair in Chemistry Education. The lecture was recorded, and I am grateful to the folks at Academic Audio Transcription who have undertaken the very tough task of transcribing my very strange accent, so that I can now share the lecture with subtitles. As well as introduction (~4 mins) the lecture is in three parts – learning in the lab, a bit about me, and work around student inclusion. If you are interested in some of the aspects mentioned in this lecture, some follow-up links are below, which themselves…

Managing information from student perspective during COVID contingencies

My colleague Chris Mowat and I co-wrote a blog post for our university’s Teaching Matters blog, which I am linking here as it pulls together a lot of our activities into one post, so might be useful for people in a hurry! The end of academic year is a busy time for students in normal circumstances, but this year, in addition to spending this time reviewing all of their courses and getting ready for assessment, there is a swell in information relating to managing alternative arrangements due to COVID-19 that our honours students have to process. As a combined effort, we…

Managing the open-book exam process

At Edinburgh, we are mostly moving to replacing our 3 hour exams with open book exams. We had initially intended these to be within 24 hour timeframes, but the University has mandated 48. Otherwise, things are as described in the previous post. So students will need to access an exam paper from a  specific “start time” and submit their written answers no later than 48 hours than that start time. Easy! Having looked through the various options, I am going with the following 5 step plan based on Blackboard Assignments (rather than Turnitin), described below in terms of front of…