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7 June - 11 June 2021

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Education Week 2021

Rising to a healthy challenge: Building beyond blended

Education Day is Imperial College's annual conference for everyone involved in learning and teaching. This year, we ran a series of online events over the course of a week on the topic of ‘Rising to a healthy challenge: building beyond blended’. We celebrated our achievements in light of the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic and focused on how lessons learnt can be embedded in future practice.

As Education Day became Education Week, each day was devoted to a different subject under the broader theme of the conference, with its own keynote speakers and sessions. 

At this year’s event we aimed to critically examine the themes below:

  • Staff/student wellbeing and belonging
  • Practical education remotely and learning by discovery
  • Online assessments
  • Broadening participation 
  • What does success look like?

Please see below for recordings and presentations listed under each theme

presentations and workshops by day

Staff/student wellbeing & belonging

Taking students’ emotions seriously - psychological literacy for more effective learning and teaching 
By Dr Denise Meyer, Head of Wellbeing at University of Portsmouth
Recording

Dr Denise Meyer, Head of Wellbeing at the University of Portsmouth and author of ‘The Student Lifecycle: Pressure points and transitions’ in Barden & Caleb (2019) Student Mental Health & Wellbeing in Higher Education: A practical guide, Sage, introduces an innovative conceptual framework which emphasises a learning and education-focused approach to the issue of mental health and inclusion in the HE context. The key feature of this approach is the promotion of psychological literacy regarding the role of emotions and emotion regulation in successful learning, and of connection and a sense of belonging as the foundation for the psychological security required to successfully face the emotional challenges integral to both learning and the student experience. The seminar considered practical applications of this framework when planning transition and induction activity, and included consideration of how to better equip students to work constructively in groups.

‘I don’t belong here’: Underrepresented students and their ‘imposter syndrome’ in higher education
Dr Tiffany Chiu & Dr Órla Murray, Centre for Higher Education Research and Scholarship
R‌ecording
Presentation [pdf]

It is widely recognised that students’ sense of belonging can have implications for their academic learning, engagement and wellbeing. This presentation drew on some of the preliminary findings from the SIDUS project, aimed at promoting inclusion and supporting success for STEMM students from underrepresented groups at the university. The analysis suggests that students often experience ‘imposter syndrome’, which describes persistently feeling like a fraud and not believing in one’s own achievements, often with the fear that one will be found out or exposed as not being worthy to be in a space or have certain accolades. Such imposter feelings happen in response to particular times, spaces, and in relation to particular people and groups, rather than being a general ‘condition’ and can impede the development of a sense of belonging. They argue that universities should focus on supporting students to manage fleeting feelings of being an imposter alongside challenging overly competitive academic cultures which pressure students to ‘catch-up’ or ‘overcome’ their imposter feelings. We conclude with practical implications for learning and teaching including, for example, a clear and transparent approach on managing expectations of students and what it means to be a university student. This session provided a space for staff to discuss and share strategies and approaches as we support students to navigate their way through university life.

Student Belonging and Wellbeing Before, During and After the Pandemic
Dr Eliel Cohen, Centre for Higher Education Research and Scholarship
Recording
Presentation [pdf]Presentation [pdf]Presentation [pdf]‌‌

From November 2019 to April 2020, and again from November 2020 to April 2021, we ran a mixed methods study involving questionnaires and interviews focused on Imperial College students’ sense of belonging. The timing of our study provides us with rich data to explore how the pandemic and the shift to remote learning has impacted students’ sense of belonging in relation to their peers, their department and the College. Drawing on data from around 500 participants from over the two years, this presentation will focus on findings pertaining to the relationship between belonging and wellbeing. We explored continuities and changes in students’ belonging and wellbeing and highlight some of the ways in which the previous year has brought communities together, as well as kept them apart. We ended by considering how challenges faced and lessons learned over the course of our study have implications for promoting belonging and wellbeing in the future.

Strengthening Learning Communities in Physics and beyond
Dr Mark Richards and Vijay Tymms, Department of Physics
Recording

The Strengthening Learning Communities project aims to investigate the underlying causes of the phenomenon that, on aggregate, demographic minorities and underrepresented groups often show a lower attainment, both in Physics and beyond, and to explore targeted interventions that could be implemented with a view to reducing or eliminating such (attainment) gaps.  At the heart of the project is a student’s ’sense of belonging’ and this session will explore how the pandemic has re-shaped the very notion of sense of belonging and is set to continue to do so in a post-covid world.

Panel discussion on wellbeing and belonging in the post COVID-19 era
Dr Denise Meyer, Shervin Sbeghi, Ester Pereea
Recording



Practical education remotely and learning by discovery

Exploring xR for Education
By Thomas Hurkxkens
Recording

The use of Immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is becoming increasingly popular in higher education. The impact of these technologies on solving global challenges is becoming apparent in an increasingly diverse set of areas such as healthcare, science and engineering. In his keynote Thomas Hurkxkens, Lead xR for education explores xR as an emerging education strategy and shares practical use cases developed in collaboration with faculty and staff at Imperial College London.

Implementation of Technology enhanced Labs (CREATE Labs) to deliver experiential learning in response to COVID-19. 
By Dr Vijesh Bhute, Dr Umang Shah, Department of Chemical Engineering
Recording

A hybrid laboratory, CREATE Labs, was delivered using state-of-the-art technologies to provide an immersive experience to undergraduate students in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London. The objective was to deliver practical labs keeping the key learning objectives in mind. The CREATE Labs provided real-time views of the equipment using high-definition pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras as well as Microsoft (MS) HoloLens 2 technology. Most of the experiments had equipment which were operable remotely. MS Teams was used for communication, storing files, and for remote access of control software. Further simulations of equipment were included to augment the understanding of concepts. To adhere to social distancing restrictions, graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) who traditionally acted as advisors, also conducted few steps of the experiments based on instructions provided by the students via MS Teams. GTAs also wore the MS HoloLens 2 to provide a point-of-view (POV) live stream of equipment (especially for those parts which were difficult to access via PTZ camera view). In this presentation, we will further highlight our learnings based on surveys from students and GTAs and discuss strategies to enhance student experience in the future.

Use of demonstrations and blended learning in the remote format in Physics
By Dr Yasmin Andrew, Dr Masoud Seifikar, Dr Vijay Tymms & Dr Stefano Vezzoli, Dr Simon Foster, Department of Physics
Recording
Presentation [pdf]

The use of physics demonstrations in lectures can encourage students' active learning and provide authentic opportunities to engage with and practically explore the course content by discovery. In the past 2 years we have developed several demonstrations, in collaboration with lecturers and with the help of UROP students, and delivered them in several undergraduate modules, both in person and remotely. In addition, we have been trialling aspects of blended learning and flipped classroom approaches in Physics courses and measuring their effectiveness. We have employed several techniques to measure the effectiveness of both the use of demonstrations and the blended learning approaches. In this talk we will review our experience and our findings, focusing on the past year’s remote format.

Visualising the Invisible - XR for STEM 
By Tim Heightman, Department of Physics and Square One 
Recording

Having completed a proof of concept for mixed reality (XR) as a simulatory medium in university level STEM education, a student led Imperial spin-out (Square One) is rapidly gaining traction on an international scale based on their projects at Imperial. By utilising XR combined with the latest pedagogy, Square One delivers unparalleled simulational accuracy with the capability of visualising complex phenomena in an intuitive way for discovery based learning. This summer, they are to deliver industry certifiable training in XR development to students at Imperial. In the process, students will collaborate with IC staff to create prototype experiences, allowing staff members to better understand how to exploit this incredible medium. In this talk, they will be discussing the power of XR as a medium for higher learning and how its advancements could revolutionise the way that students learn in future to make it more engaging, immersive and intuitive.

Serious Games: A novel approach to teaching clinical reasoning
By 
Dr Viral Thakerar and Dr Renee Ewe, School of Public Health

Clinical reasoning skills are honed through exposure to a variety of clinical presentations. With in-person teaching and clinical exposure reduced, scalable and engaging digital medical education teaching tools are essential. Serious Games (SGs) in medical education are games whose primary purpose is educational and are a potential solution for these challenges. We propose that a SG is a feasible and acceptable tool for teaching clinical reasoning.

We have collaborated with students from computer science and medicine to co-design and develop a SG based on primary care scenarios to practise clinical reasoning. The cases have been designed by a mixture of qualified GPs and GP trainees, and reviewed by at least three GPs for accuracy. Each case consists of a patient avatar interacting with the player who is role-playing a doctor in a first-person view. The patient provides a presenting complaint, and the player then selects questions to uncover more information. After each question, the student is invited to re-rank the five most likely differential diagnoses.

Twenty second-year medical students will have unlimited access to this alongside their existing teaching over a one-week period. We will evaluate its acceptability, usability and student experience using surveys and focus group interviews.

What’s it like to do a lab session at home? Try it yourself!
By Dr Peter Johnson, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Recording

The aim of the session is to give educators first-hand experience of a home lab activity that was delivered to mechanical engineering undergraduate students this year. Kits, comprising a sensor, electronics, and USB cable, are provided to attendees to use at home. In the session we will briefly summarise how these sessions were run with students, and then break into guided groups while you complete a short version of the activity yourself at your remote location. No experience necessary to take part; users need a Windows PC with a USB port, and two cups of water at different temperatures.

Tangibility: Remote prototyping within digital collaborations in transdisciplinary team projects
Maria Apud-Bell, Dr Elena Dieckmann, Nuno Miguel Martins Pacheco, M.Sc., Dr. Anand Vazhapilli Sureshbabu, Professor Peter Childs, Dr Stephen Green, Dyson School of Engineering
Recording

As part of the collaborations between Imperial College and TUM, this initiative explores the usage of prototyping in remote collaboration by using VR CAD software alongside other online collaboration tools (e.g. Miro) with cross institution teams of students developing concepts for innovative VR user experiences.  Applications and concepts for what we describe as ‘tangibility’ include: multi-sensory VR experience of weather conditions, haptic feedback for VR biopsy training, balance and speed in VR board sport experience and virtual partners in tango dancing.  The activities provide valuable insights into project-based learning in cross institutional contexts and the pandemic fuelled imperative to develop the use of online tools for collaborative innovation, design and engineering.

Panel discussion on what methods/approaches for practical education can we sustain in blended learning
By Thomas Hurkxkens, Vijay Tymms, Umang Shah
Recording 

Online assessments

Assessment and feedback for learning: Beyond closed book exams
Professor David Carless, University of Hong Kong
Recording
Presentation [pdf]

Assessment needs to balance the competing functions of grading, effective student learning and practicality. These challenges are accentuated by remote distance learning during the pandemic. Some examples of alternatives to traditional closed book examinations are discussed, including open-book exams, two-stage collaborative exams and oral assessment.

To improve their assessment performance, students need to be actively involved in feedback processes of different kinds. Teacher transmission forms of feedback often fail to engage students, especially when they are timed at the end of teaching sequences after grades are awarded. Peer feedback has significant potential in enabling students to compare their own work-in-progress with that of others, but there are implementation pitfalls that need to be navigated.

Implications focus on the importance of sound learning principles. Key principles of assessment for learning include: encouraging deep student approaches to learning; spreading student effort over the entire course; mirroring real-life uses of the discipline; and designing for feedback interaction.

Being fearless in the formative - Reviewing your assessment practice
By Shireen Lock and Engineering EdTech Team, Faculty of Engineering

The move to remote learning necessitated the conversion of traditional ‘paper based’ assessment into a digital format. Great efforts have been made to ensure summative assessment fulfils its purpose in this new environment. This focus is understandable as quality assurance and award implications are high stake. However, one key lesson to take away from the pandemic is how important a carefully scaffolded formative assessment is for supporting student learning, especially in the time where lack of regular physical contact makes it more difficult to gauge student progress.  

Formative assessment should also be seen as an opportunity to experiment with new and innovative assessment forms in a safe space that lets the practitioners test new assessment methods but still support students’ development.  Moving to digital platforms should no longer be done through necessity; the skills and experiences gained over the last year can be applied to create exciting learning resources driven by a changed mindset- digital assessment for increased pedagogic value.

The aim of this workshop is to help you reflect on your current assessment practice and encourage you to be fearless with formative assessments. Using our experience of supporting staff in the Faculty of Engineering with remote teaching and assessment, we will explore new opportunities opened up by moving to the digital space. We will encourage you to think differently about your assessment design and provide you with examples of tools and approaches that will inspire you to be brave with your assessment practice.  

Exams? No Thanks!
By Dr Mike Tennant, Centre for Environmental Policy
Recording 
Presentation [pdf]

When was the last time you had to cram for an exam, sit in a crowded room and scribble manically for 3 hours? Probably not in your current job! On the MSc in Environmental Technology we decided that the practice of examinations really didn’t reflect what our graduates did once they left Imperial College, so we replaced them with more authentic ways of assessing performance. As part of this presentation I’d like to take you through our thinking, the many types of assessments that we ended up with, and end up reflecting on some student responses.

Towards a pedagogy for teaching and assessing group work - Reflecting on two years of practice at level 7
By Dr Louise Rickard, Centre for Environmental Policy
Presentation [pdf]

The Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP) runs a large multi-disciplinary MSc course for 160 top students annually, most of whom move into key job roles within the sustainability industry after graduation.  The CEP shifted from written exams to group-work in 2019, for reasons including the following:

  1. Employers require graduates to be skilled in collaborative competencies;
  2. Teaching collaborative competencies is an essential component of sustainability education;
  3. Designing exciting contemporary curricula means providing students with inclusive and engaging experiential learning such as they get from immersive group work.

Social-Loafing or free-riding is associated with group-work in HE, and to avoid this distorting student marks and negatively affecting their experience, we needed a way to teach and assess the process and skills of collaboration separately from the project (content) output. The challenge has been to define what an expected level 7 standard would be for collaborative competencies, and how to equip students with a transferable skillset for life that will allow them to work and lead in sustainability settings anywhere and “from any chair”.

We made a central pedagogic choice to focus on scaffolding student learning and providing a clear progression pathway, ahead of merely summatively assessing them - which is quite simple to do. As the students work independently in small groups they, rather than faculty, are best placed to teach and feedback to one another on collaborative competencies. We therefore do not anonymise the peer-feedback as they must be able to ask each other for clarification and further specifics; and support student by teaching project management and collaborative skills more generally including how to give and receive feedback.

This presentation will focus on lessons learned, decision points and tips for practitioners considering a similar approach.

New tools and emerging evidence for assessment of applied knowledge
By Professor Amir Sam, School of Medicine
Recording

It is well recognised that assessment drives learning and the choice of assessments influences students’ learning behaviours. The recent advances in information technology have presented unique opportunities to transform our assessment practice and enhance students’ learning experience. In this session Professor Amir Sam will give an overview of his work on a range of novel assessment tools and the emerging evidence for their utility.

Panel discussion on what have we learnt from moving assessments online
By Peter Johnson, Vijay Bhute, Mike Tennant
Recording

Broadening participation

Internationalisation of Higher Education in a Post-Pandemic World: Lessons Learnt and Reflections on the Future
Dr Skye Zhao, University of Sheffield
Recording

Dr Xin Zhao (Skye) is a university teacher at the Information School of the University of Sheffield and a senior fellow of HEA will introduce Internationalisation of Higher Education in a Post-Pandemic World. The internationalisation of higher education faced unprecedented challenges during the pandemic, which manifested in many areas, such as student recruitment, learning, teaching, social communities, and university support services. International students who chose to study for a degree at universities in the UK experienced many challenges as universities rapidly switched to distance-learning mode. This talk aims to explore the reshaping of internationalisation caused by the pandemic from the perspectives and digital learning experiences of international students. It will touch on topics such as digital pedagogy, online student engagement, student transition and learning communities, graduate employability, mental health support, as well as issues related to equality and diversity. Despite these challenges, the pandemic has accelerated innovative education technologies and digital learning sources. Through trial and error, universities in the UK have managed to stagger on during the 2020-2021 academic year. Nevertheless, we need to reflect on the lessons we have learned and reshape our understanding of learning and teaching in the new post-pandemic world.

Creating digital personas to improve diversity and inclusion in your curriculum
By Katie Stripe, Faculty of Medicine Centre, Katie Dallison, Careers Services
Recording 
Recording
Presentation [pdf]Presentation [pdf]Presentation [pdf]
References [pdf]

The move to digital gives course teams an opportunity to look at diversity and inclusion through a new lens and make content more representative of a cohort. Changing the demographic of a department or teaching team takes time and is outside the scope of most individuals’ abilities, but changing and adapting the demographics represented in programme content is relatively simple and could have a huge impact on student feelings of inclusion.

The Attributes and Aspirations course developed in the Faculty of Medicine uses personas, or what we have named the ‘AA Avatars’ who have faces and histories that we hope add a visible element of diversity to our online course content.

This workshop will look at how we created our AA Avatars, discuss the different elements of diversity that could/should form part of a potential avatar, and move into a discussion allowing participants to explore this further in their own contexts. We will share templates and prompt questions that have helped us, and that can be used and adapted to enable participants to begin creating their own Avatars. Finally, we will start to consider different ways of using these Avatars to drive change or to adapt content.

Transitions to University
By Hailey Smith, Education Office
Recording

One of the many consequences of COVID-19 has been disruption to high-school students’ education and this, in turn, has affected how students cope with the transition to university study and life. In this session we will explore what Imperial is doing to support students who have had their education disrupted over the last two years, drawing on experiences from the College’s own Deferral Support Package and examples from College departments. There will also be opportunity for group discussion to share ideas on what further support might be needed and what we can learn about supporting student’s transition between school and university in the future.

How active learning and lessons learnt from COVID-19 can transform STEM education (in-person and online)
By Dr Stefano Sandrone, Department of Brain Sciences

Integrating active learning reportedly improves students’ performance, promotes equity and inclusivity, and narrows achievement gaps for underrepresented learners. Combining these benefits with lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic can lead to a revamped STEM education, both online and in-person. In this talk, advantages, caveats, best practices and recommendations will be discussed.

Development and roll out of an Academic Tutoring programme to improve academic skills and promote wellbeing in undergraduate medical students during the COVID pandemic
By Dr Mike Emerson, National Heart and Lung Institute
Recording
Presentation [pdf]Presentation [pdf]Presentation [pdf]

Imperial’s medical degree course is a 6 year programme involving blended scientific and clinical training of a large cohort of undergraduate students who are taught both on campus and within the NHS. Despite admitting outstanding scholars, a significant number of our students struggled with the transitions into and across the course, despite working hard. We have therefore developed our personal tutoring programme to better support the development of study skills with a focus on active learning, time management, assessment and feedback and learning on clinical placement. Academic Tutors are trained to understand the curriculum, student mindset and in basic coaching skills, allowing them to have learner-centred conversations with tutees in structured group meetings and semi-structured one-to-one meetings. During this presentation, Dr Mike Emerson will share his experiences of developing Academic Tutoring and the challenges and lessons learnt from rolling out this programme over the last three years, including during the COVID pandemic when the medical school staff and students found themselves at the centre of the storm. He will also share findings from an evaluation of the influence of Academic Tutoring on students and invite discussion with other departments to develop best practice across the college.

Blended delivery of courses: reflections from the School of Public Health
By Dr Sungano Chigogora and Dr Henock Taddese, School of Public Health

In this talk, we aim to highlight some key insights generated from our experiences of coordinating the adaptation of the Master of Public Health and MSc in epidemiology Courses for blended, online delivery, in response to the Covid pandemic. We will try to capture lessons from the perspectives of students, tutors, module leaders and course leadership. We shall reflect on the multilevel context within which the adaptation of teaching approaches occurred over the past year: national, institutional and personal. We will cover themes related to: opportunities and challenges, system level constraints, expectations of stakeholders, values and aspirations including inclusivity and responsiveness, technological readiness, and outcomes (expected and some surprises).

JASS - A Global Distributed Software Engineering School 
By Dr Robert Chatley, Department of Computing
Recording
Presentation [pdf]

This Easter we ran JASS an extra curricular course bringing together students from Imperial, TU Munich and LETI in St Petersburg to work together on a project combining software and hardware, forming systems that connect across the world. In this talk we will describe how we used the constraints brought about by the pandemic and remote working to bring new and interesting angles to the project, the course and the way that the students collaborated. 

Panel discussion on how to manage a diverse career
By Emma McCoy, Kate Ippolito, Camile Kandiko Howson, Martyn Kingsbury
Recording

What does success look like?

Discovering a successful future
By Professor Martyn Kingsbury
Recording

In this session Professor Martyn Kingsbury will introduce the idea of a 'discovery mindset' and consider whether it might be a useful way of conceptualising the fundamentals of learning and teaching in a research intensive STEMMB context. The discovery mindset is an idea that comes from organisational psychology. It is linked to Carol Dweck's ideas of the 'growth mindset', Julia Galef's writing on the 'scout mindset' and research from on the Møller Institute which they frame as evidencing the importance of an 'explorer mindset'. What these all have in common is valuing individual and collaborative curiosity and the importance of reframing challenge and change to find opportunity. Perhaps now is the perfect time to consider whether these ideas might help us build on the successes (and failures) of our covid response to deliver authentic, inclusive and sustainable education that represents Imperial's strengths and disciplinary cultures in a changed and less certain post-covid international Higher Education sector.

Reframing the path to becoming an expert
By Professor Roger Kneebone
Recording

In this talk, Roger explores the concept of mastery by drawing from his extensive experience of collaborating with a number of well-established experts in a variety of fields and professions, ranging from taxidermy, harpsichord construction, improvisation musicians, and magicians to unpack and explore the different stages at which mastery and expertise develop. Roger holds concurrent positions as Lead for the Centre for Engagement & Simulation Science at Imperial, Lead for the Centre for Performance Science which is a joint venture between Imperial and the Royal College of Music, as well as Professor of Anatomy in the Royal Academy of Arts, which enable him to explore the point at which Science, Performance, and Craft converge. Journeying through this multidisciplinary convergence we are invited to track the path to mastery from apprenticeship to the sharing of expertise.  

Student Union perspective on what success looks like
By Michaela Flegrova
Recording

Panel discussion on Insights from across Education Week
By Emma McCoy, Martyn Kingsbury, Shireen Lock, Michaela Flegrova, Phil Ramsden
Recording

 

Additional Resources

Please note that recordings and presentations from each day can be found under each sub-theme listed above