Software enables secure online exams for BSMS students

After a successful pilot last year, some of the postgraduate taught courses at BSMS have started delivering fully electronic exams. Last month, students studying on the Clinical Radiology course completed multiple-choice exams for the module topics Anatomy and Physics, which were delivered through University of Brighton’s ‘studentcentral’ virtual learning environment and secure software, Impero.

Nick Feather
Nick Feather

Apart from the obvious benefit of exam attempts being automatically scored by the system, there were additional positive reasons for trialling this online delivery over a paper-based approach:

Firstly, a comprehensive question bank can be developed within studentcentral which can be adapted to create individual exams; you don’t have to create the test in another piece of software. If using multiple-choice, the correct answer can be set within the system and all relevant staff (internal and external) can be provided with access. Studentcentral also supports essay style answers for online exams.

Secondly, in terms of security, the online exam can be made available to students within a defined timeframe (e.g. the link appears just 15 minutes before the start of the exam) and a custom password was provided to grant access. The questions were presented randomly as a list on a single webpage, so students each had a unique view of the exam ‘paper’. The Falmer Library computer room used for this exam has a network of PCs running classroom management software, Impero. This software enables internet access to be restricted on those machines to ‘white-listed’ websites so students are prevented from visiting any websites not applicable to the exam, as well as from accessing USB or network drives.

Thirdly, the system offers question analysis data. As an example, it is possible to quickly retrieve a difficulty score for each question, alongside ‘average score’ and ‘standard deviation’ and ‘standard error’. All this data can be downloaded as a report.

Finally, when scores are released to students, these are available through ‘MyGrades’ within studentcentral so students can see their scores where they expect to see them (and, therefore, consistent with University of Brighton’s EMA policy). The ‘post date’ – ie. when the grades are made available to students – can be set by the course team.

The Department of Medical Education (DME) are planning to rollout this online delivery of exams to further modules. If you would like more information about this type of assessment via studentcentral, or Impero software, please contact your learning technologist: Tim Vincent (undergraduate) or Nick Feather (postgraduate).

 

Postcards from Helsinki: Top tips from the AMEE med ed conference

Click on this icon to go to the conference information

BSMS had the highest representation yet at AMEE 2017 – one of the largest international conferences in medical education. Ten of us joined almost 4000 other educators in Helsinki to present papers and posters on our research, and run a popular conference workshop “Technology Enhanced Learning… For Dummies!”. There was much to learn but here are some personal take-home reflections:

Dr Claire Smith
  • I was struck by the diversity of experiences across the world, yet also by the similarities of issues facing HEIs
  • There exists such a position as Director of Virtual Human Anatomy rather than ‘Head of Anatomy’ – could I be virtual?!
  • Also noticed the friendless of everyone and the ease of talking to new people
  • Top Tip: Get to session rooms early to get a seat – for many sessions I sat on the floor!
  • Presenting at an international conference with colleagues from so many countries made me focus on ensuring my poster presentation was accessible those for whom English is not their first language. However, I was deeply impressed by how many people spoke flawless medical English when this wasn’t their first language!
  • Attending a debate on the necessity of human cadaveric dissection in teaching anatomy teaching encouraged me to reflect on how much of what we teach is because ‘that’s just the way that it is done’ – we need to question the status quo and keep pushing the boundaries of educational practice.
  • There is much value in the time spent having informal discussions with colleagues over the local brew!

Dr Nikki Dearnley

Dr Jim Price

I was privileged to attend a two significant international Medical Educational Conferences on behalf of BSMS in 2017, both at Helsinki in August:

Faculty Development: Affirming Global Connections and Advancing Diversity

  • We need to take the concept of ‘Faculty Development’ much more seriously in the UK, as they do in other countries, notably the USA.
  • We need to ‘look outwards’ and embrace collaborative approaches, both in educational research and in models of Faculty Development.
  • We need to consider a ‘Core Curriculum’ for Faculty Development for medical and clinical educators which has, as yet, not been articulated in the UK.

The Power to Surprise: AMEE Annucal Conference 2017

  • Think about using alternative methods to teach clinical practice – for example the AMEE Fringe included a session on “Celebration of Knowledge: Singing and Dancing in a large, undergraduate classroom” – with real singing and dancing – excellent!
  • The symposium on “Wicked Issues in Contemporary Medical Education” – emphasised the importance of uncertainty and complexity in the clinical teaching domain. How should we all incorporate this into our teaching practice?
  • Lastly, there were numerous presentations on the ‘Flipped Classroom’, but I think we all need to reflect calmly on how much digital learning should interface with face-to-face discussion and conversation. The ‘blended learning’ debate is still alive and kicking!

Also, the BSMS team made many presentations, posters and orals, and in particular a Conference Workshop on “Technology Enhanced Learning… For Dummies!” which received excellent reviews and evaluation, and has now been accepted as a prestigious ‘Pre-Conference Workshop’ for AMEE 2018.

  • This was my first experience of such a large conference – it felt quite overwhelming
  • Giving a chaired and timed poster presentation was harder than I expected. You have to be concise and have an audience but I was very please with mine though!
  • Lots of people to talk too, and lots of great food, including elk and reindeer!
  • Top tip: Avoid creating an e-poster – I went to one session and they turned out to be not what I expected, more difficult to interpret and not necessarily any more advantageous than a traditional hard-copy poster.

CJ Taylor

Tim Vincent
  • There is annual growth in mention of digital teaching and learning tools – virtual patients and simulation, video-based resources, fully online courses, mobile learning. The number of students and juniors developing digital learning resources is impressive.
  • Despite the existence of online participation, physical attendance at conferences is clearly still extremely popular. Although one does question whether the self-perpetuating ‘international conference machine’ exists more for the industry than professional development, I am encouraged that the value of meeting in person remains a strong draw. As with lectures, I don’t think face-to-face will disappear; but I do think it should be less prohibitively expensive with more rigorous content…
  • Fringe sessions provide excellent value – these are where you can really get some practical teaching tips delivered in an engaging way (thanks Becky!)
  • Drinks in Helsinki are incredibly expensive (one gin = €11!) Should we try this in the UK to improve alcohol-related disease??
  •  Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (CPT) – The largest study to date on CPT teaching showed there is a wide variation in quantity and quality of CPT education across the EU. Compared to other medical schools, I thought how forward-thinking BSMS is, with a well taught curriculum, amble prescribing practice, the digital formulary SmartDrug.
  • Interprofessional Education (IPE) – There was a rich IPE theme at AMEE. I was particularly impressed with the well-established IPE initiative between Robert Gordon Pharmacy School and Dundee Medical School where students learn together on interprofessional ward rounds. We could seek inspiration from our Scottish colleagues.
  • Swimming in the Icelandic waters is bracing!

Lelia Bissell

Real experience of using PollEverywhere interactive tool in lectures

Ever considered what it’s like using voting software in your teaching? Here are three real-life examples of how BSMS teachers are using PollEverywhere (the live audience response tool in which students can respond to questions using their own phones or laptops – see this page for more details and other interactive tools for teaching):


Marwa Elamin
Senior Lecturer in Neurology

What was the session?
It was a symposium focused on Motor Neuron Disease, with all 2nd year medical students. It was 3 hours long, divided into three sections: 1. Doctor’s perspective (75 min), 2. Multidisciplinary team perspective (45 min), 3. Patient perspective (60 minutes), with a concluding discussion.

What were you looking to achieve?
I used Poll everywhere during the doctor’s perspective part of the seminar mainly in the form 3-4 multiple choice questions about a subtopic (e.g. epidemiology or treatment of MND) before talking about that topic. Participation was anonymous and high for most questions. I showed the students the results of the poll and discussed the right answer. It helped (1) gauge the students prior knowledge about a specific subject ; (2) keep the students engaged and focused in the session.

At the very end of the symposium I used the word cloud format questions to ask the students to submit one word which would express (1) their take away message about how to care for people affected with MND, and (2) their experience during the symposium.

How did the session go?
The session itself went extremely well. Students were easily able to find the website and participate. I was able to hide the the incoming responses until polling was over for each question to ensure students are not influenced by each other’s responses. I was able to generate an ‘executive summary’ of the responses for each question afterwards.
The main negative was that I had to alternate between my PowerPoint slide show and the website. If the poll was embedded in the slides, that would have led to a more smoother delivery but it was not a big issue.
The word cloud option was fantastic and the result were so inspiring that the MND Care and Research Network coordinator uploaded it onto Twitter!

What advice would you give to others who might be considering PollEverywhere?
The platform was very user-friendly. Within 10 minutes I had understood how to use it , add questions, edit them and change their order and segregate them into subgroups. I would use it again.

I would recommend it specifically for (1) sessions that are long and thus there is risk of losing audience concentration; (2) in sessions where audience participation or an evaluation of prior knowledge would be of value. My advice is to ‘bunch’ the questions into groups and experiment with different formats for the questions.


Mike Tarzi
Senior Lecturer & Honorary Consultant Immunologist

What was the session?
Immunology revision sessions with year 1 medical students. Most of the year attended, probably around 90 students.

What were you looking to achieve?
I wanted something to facilitate a quiz session during the lecture.

How did the session go?
Technology worked well enough with no major problems. The sessions worked better than the previous approach (pen and paper followed by facilitated discussion) – much more interactive and I had a better feel for the overall performance of the students.

How did you find using the tool generally?
Easy to use and very intuitive. PollEverywhere worked well in a lecture hall / large group environment.

What advice would you give to others who might be considering PollEverywhere?
Definitely recommended. Seek technical support for the first session!


Elaine MacAninch
Research and Education Dietitian and Lecturer in Nutrition

What was the session?
An evening lecture on sports nutrition for the sports medicine society. I was facilitating the final Q&A session.

What were you looking to achieve? Why did you use PollEverywhere?
I wanted to get an idea of which types of sports the audience were interested in and also how many people were running the Brighton marathon or planning to run a marathon. The audience were also able to type questions throughout the presentation.

How did the session go?
PollEverywhere was successful in achieving the above. It was easy to use and most of the audience participated. It was novel and introduced some humour to the session. There were approximately 10 questions submitted and I was able to amalgamate similar themes to condense to 3-4 questions. This would be tricky if you had lots of questions and requires someone other than the lecturer to be monitoring the questions and facilitating the session. We displayed all of the audience questions on the screen during the Q & A.

How did you find using the tool generally?
It worked fine from the PollEverywhere website. I didn’t manage to embed the tool into my PowerPoint as I was short on time. [You need to download a plug-in to allow you to transfer PollEverywhere to PowerPoint so not possible from an NHS computer.] Remember to make the poll live beforehand to enable to people to actually vote!

What advice would you give to fellow educators considering using voting tools?
I would recommend giving it a go. Keep it simple to start with. We asked a simple question “What type of sport do you participate in?” using the word cloud format. This is useful as a test to see if the poll is working. I am planing to use PollEverywhere to facilitate a True/ False quiz in a big group lecture. Although I am confident in the technology I have also prepared a backup plan (hands up/ stand up if you think true) just in case!


If you would like to use PollEverywhere in your teaching, contact Tim Vincent.

Find out about PollEverywhere and other interactive tools at this page: Interactive tools in the classroom