Keith's Blog

Apps for Teaching - Learning - Research

Topic: Apps

UniDoodle

📥  Apps, Enagagement, Feedback, Mobile, student, Technology

UniDoodle: An Interactive Classroom App

A couple of weeks ago, my colleague Dr. Fiona Dickinson asked for help finding an app which could be used by students to ‘draw at her’ during a lecture. In other words, to allow students to draw using their mobile devices, and to immediately allow her to view all their drawings. The aim was to address some of the common mistakes that students often make in a way that is reflective of a visual subject like chemistry.

My TEL colleagues suggested UniDoodle, a new app that is in beta, and available as iOS and Android apps. It also has the advantage that it is currently free to use.

UniDoodle Logo

On the UniDoodle web-site the app is described as follows:

UniDoodle is a classroom response system app which allows students to quickly submit sketch-style answers via their iOS or Android device to questions asked by their teacher in class.

After some preliminary practice, Fiona decided to give it a go. So, about halfway through the lecture, Unidoodle was used to display a question that comprised of a visual representation of a chemical structure, which the students were asked to modify on their devices:

Student drawing on phone

The end result was an array of responses from students, some of which are shown below.

Response from students

 

The Feedback from Fiona:

UniDoodle was simple to use (in fact they don’t even provide instructions) for both me and the students. The best bit was it allowed me to engage with the students in a unique way providing feedback on topics which I know are conceptually difficult to understand are common errors in the exams. From my early experiences I will be continuing using UniDoodle in this course and will look to expand its use to other units on which I teach.

 

An Experiment with Social Media

📥  Apps, Co-Design, Enagagement, Feedback, Peer Learning, Social Learning Network

Introduction

Study-Space is a Social Media/eFeedback type of app that I built which has been designed and coded in collaboration with students.  The idea was conceived about 18 months ago as a way to overcome some of the issues encountered with mainstream Social Media.

This blog represents the one year milestone since the app was first piloted, and is an opportunity for me to pause to review the impact and collate some of the comments from students and academics.  A total of some 600 undergraduates across the university have used the app, with some excellent feedback and evaluation results from students.

There has been significant interest both internally and externally. As a result, we are currently looking at extending the app for use by researchers, and for use at other institutions.

The first pilot commenced in March 2016 in the department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. Since that time it has been used on a number of programme units across the university. Evaluation data is very positive, and there is strong agreement from students that the app serves as a complement to the materials on Moodle. Recently, the app has been used with Staff-Student Liaison committees, and we have just commenced trials with virtual spaces for groups of Postgraduate Research students. It is also being considered for use on high-profile courses such as the Executive MBA in the School of Management.

The app provides for virtual, semi-formal spaces where students and teaching staff can interact inside and outside the classroom. Available for iOS/Android/Web it is only available from the in-house app store (you won't find it on the global app-stores), and is an app that offers a safe space that provides two layers of protection for students:

  • Privacy - data is internal to the university. This is crucial for students because it does not impact on their mainstream digital identity
  • Anonymity - students are able to post questions without judgement by their peers.
The app provides a safe virtual space for teaching and learning

The app provides a safe virtual space for teaching and learning

A Student Viewpoint

Toby Barrat is a final year undergraduate who has coded parts of the app, and also used the app for study on a programme unit:

Developing Study-Space has really helped to open my eyes to the potential that lies in the app, and the wider benefits of improving student engagement in higher education. Study-Space acts as a semi-formal conversation facilitator between students and academics which can help make the learning process more efficient for all involved.

From a student perspective, the forums developing on the app reflect opportunities to gain answers to the questions you have, but also to the questions you wish you had. The anonymity removes the fear of asking questions which could be perceived as being simple, but also gives the chance to give honest feedback about your level of understanding.

On the academic side, conversations on the app can be used to tailor revision and problem sessions in the areas that are needed. In my opinion, the most exciting element of Study-Space is its ability to engage students in peer to peer learning, and I personally have benefited from a question asked and answered exclusively by students in the app; the exchange reminded me of something which ended up being in the exam, and I no doubt gained marks because of it. Study-Space acts as an extra tool to be used alongside the systems we have in place at the University, such as Moodle and Samis, and adds functionality in areas which are lacking in the current arrangement. It would have been great if I had had the opportunity to use Study-Space during my 5 years at the University.

Academics' Viewpoint

John Chew, Department of Chemical Engineering:

I have always been a firm believer of active learning and teaching. I started using the Study-Space App in two of the units that I teach this Semester. The students and I feel that the App allowed and encouraged staff-student and student-student interactions inside and outside of lectures in a simple but effective way. I have now decided to use it in all the units that I teach.

Dr Steve Cayzer, Department of Mechanical Engineering

I used Study-Space to promote student engagement on my MSc programme. I was impressed by how easy it was to post up questions and polls, gathering quick and anonymous feedback. I designed an agile workshop around the app, challenging students to discuss and propose high value change requests. I invited Keith to discuss the results with the students; the result was a highly interactive, deeply immersive learning experience for the students, also yielding valuable insights for Study-Space development.

Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo, Department of Chemical Engineering:

I believe that Study-Space is a brilliant platform to engage with  students and to allow them to interact to each others. I use it to ask them for feedback , to test their knowledge with a quiz, to clarify some aspects of my lectures, to post useful links and references or simply as a question/answers tool. I can see that the students like Study-Space by their level of engagement with it and by their positive comments during informal chats. By using Study-Space I do not need any longer to reply to lots of individual emails. Often students have the same kind of questions, which on Study-Space can be replied once and in such a way that everyone can read it! The app is of clear benefit to the students during both teaching time and revision.

I am currently using this app for three modules during the current academic year and I believe I'll keep using it in the next academic year.

Dr Felia Allum, Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies:

Study Space has added a new, extra and exciting dimension to my teaching as I seek to make my teaching more interactive, but in reality it has complimented it perfectly. It has given students and lecturers alike, a new and virtual way of engaging among peers and teaching; a constant, interactive and engaging form of communication in class but also during the week in preparation before class.

Recently, I have developed active learning in one of my 4th yr units. The whole unit is dedicated to students studying Italian mafias and designing their own student led role-play. This experimental teaching and learning approach moves away from traditional forms of teaching to enabling students to engage and learn in different, more stimulating ways. It was unclear to me how technology could help me in this. However, Study-Space has been the most appropriate app that has accompanied me in the development of this new way/format of teaching. Study-Space has been the perfect forum for this process, inside and outside of the class-room.

Dr Albert Bolhuis, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology

As convenor for PA20024, the Study-Space app has provided a convenient way to engage with students outside of lectures, and enables staff to monitor how well students have understood the material that was taught. The app is easy to use and the workload is minimal. Importantly, students are not only asking, but also answering questions that have been posted, and the app thus facilitates a lively peer support community for the unit.

Dr Julie Letchford, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology

As an academic delivering lectures, practicals and workshops on this unit, I’m always keen to obtain student feedback. The voting element built into this App provides a really useful way of easily achieving this immediately after the session.

Summary

The app started as an experiment based on previous attempts using main-stream Social Media for teaching and learning. By providing two layers of privacy for users, the app that we built seems to have overcome the barriers, and has struck a chord with both students and academics. It represents a platform that augments and complements our VLE by providing safe and secure social channels to enable peer learning both inside and outside the classroom.

Save

 

Student Co-Design using Agile

📥  Agile, Apps, Co-Design, Enagagement, social media, Software Development

Following an invitation from Dr Steve Cazyer, Director of Studies, I was involved with a session for the MSc Innovation and Technology Management. This involved some 30 international students studying the programme unit 'Managing Product Development'.

For me, it was an opportunity to find out the features that I should incorporate into the next version of Study-Space which is an enterprise app that is currently being developed and trialed at the university (including Steve's unit) and which shows some promise as a collaborative learning environment or Social Learning Network (SLN). For the students, it was an opportunity to engage and learn about Agile Software development using an authentic real-world example.

Part of the session involved an activity where the students as 'clients' were required to produce a list of enhancements for the app, which they prioritise and pass to the developer (that's me).

agile-students3
The results for each group reveal some really interesting ideas, such as the facility to upload study material to the app, and discussion boards. I never really expected these! Anyway, pulling these ideas together, Steve facilitated a vote for the top priorities from the entire group, which indicates that the facility to add pictures is the most requested enhancement:

agile-prioritiesI will be taking these ideas forward with the Study-Space development team which comprises of a small group of students that are currently developing the specification and coding the next version. So far,  the 'ground-up' approach seems to be working exceptionally well. The ethos is very much around the idea of 'An App developed by Students for Students'.

Many thanks to Steve Cayzer and the vibrant bunch of students enrolled on ME50236 who were full of creative energy and a joy to work with!

agile-students1

Save

 

Student Co-Creators and Digital Skills

📥  Animation, Apps, Co-Design, Digital Capabilities, Digital Skills, SSLC, student, Student Authors, Technology, Videos

A couple of years ago, I starting thinking about a Digital Skills Centre (DSC), where academics can go to get media developed, and where the work is co-created by students.  The students thereby gain digital capabilities to enhance their employability. Media might include videos, apps and on-line learning modules. The idea is to provide opportunities for our amazing students to develop Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) materials.

As a preliminary step to help further the DSC, funding has been confirmed for 5 projects that each involve students working as partners and co-creators, with input from academics and the faculty or departmental TEL officers. Although each project addresses a specific area, the overall objective is to establish a scalable working model for collaborative TEL development with students as partners and co-designers.

Students will acquire digital skills and capabilities by working on each of the projects. One aspect of evaluation is to map these to a framework, based on the JISC model, with a view to accreditation as part of the Bath Award that is available to our students.

Many thanks to everyone that has supported this endeavour. However, a big thanks to the project team involving students, academics and especially the Faculty TEL team who represent the Learning Technologists based in the departments and faculties.

Pilot Projects for the Digital Skills Centre

Our bid titled 'Pilot Projects for the Digital Skills Centre' was successful in achieving funding from the Teaching Development Fund (TDF) that encourages applications from teams that are cross departmental, and which involve students. The funding provides for 5 projects, each managed by a Learning Technologist from the Faculty TEL group.

The projects include 2 apps, several videos and an eLearning module. The images shown below are for illustration only, and show how the finished products might look, running on a smart-phone.


Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Faculty of Science

Project: An app for the Staff Student Liaison Committees (SSLCs)
Project Manager: Keith Brown
Students: Toby Barrett and Harry Ball
The Study-Space app being piloted for SSLC

Based on recent trials at the university, the Study-Space app has shown some potential to forge a community of students around a programme unit. This project builds on that potential, and aims to deliver ‘the SSLC app’. This app will be specifically designed to enable reps to collect and collate feedback from students, and to feedback the outcome from SSLC to the students.


School of Management

Project: An interactive eLearning package to explain Stakeholder theory
Project Manager: Paul Pinkney
Academic: Johanne Ward-Grosvold
Student: Sam Turnpenny
stakeholder-blog

Stakeholder theory is a key theoretical premise of modern management practice. It is taught on a number of masters courses and the eLearning package could be used repeatedly

The project undertakes to deliver a module containing animations and a self-test. It aims to ensure that all students have the requisite knowledge of stakeholder theory before attending a given lecture.


Department for Health, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Project: Animation of Medical Issues in Disability Sport
Project Managers: Tracey Duffy and Geraldine Jones
Academic: Beenish Kamal
t6-disk

Existing text-heavy content is to be replaced by visually engaging learning content including videos and animations. The project also includes a social learning aspect where students use social media or forums.

This approach will be trialled on one unit in SPY, with a view to future application on other units within the programme and adaptation for other similar programmes across the university.


Faculty of Engineering & Design

Project: A Professional Practice app
Projet Managers: Yvonne Moore and Rachel Applegate
placement-app-blog

A large proportion of students in Engineering undertake a placement in industry as part of their learning, and in doing so are expected to develop their skills for professional practice.

A mobile app that can provide information in preparation for placement and which can subsequently support the students in placement could be beneficial to a large number of students.  It would also support the employability agenda by preparing graduates for the workplace using material in a form that is familiar to young people.


Academic Skills Centre

Project: Short video to illuminate expectations and perceptions of academic skills and to detail some of the resources and support available
Project Managers: Kevin Renfrew and Keith Brown
skills-promotion2

The aim is to deliver an animated video to capture the reflections and views of staff and students around academic skills. The animation will be co-designed and created by staff and students.


 

 

Using Technology for Engagement and Feedback

📥  Apps, Community, Enagagement, Feedback, Mobile, social media, student, Technology

On 5th November I ran a session for student Academic Reps about the technology for engaging with students and finding a way to obtain comments that can be used to feedback to the Staff Student Liason Committees (SSLC). Although my presentation did focus on some technologies, the take-home message was that it isn't really about the tech: It is about being proactive and forming a community where people are comfortable to feedback their concerns.

 

However, although comminity it key, it is important to select an appropriate technology. Especially with regards to privacy. This is probably not an area where main-stream Social Media is appropriate. Putting myself in the shoes of a student, some questions come to mind:

  • Would I be comfortable with posting my personal thoughts and comments on media that is publicly viewable?
  • Can I trust the privacy statements of the vendors? (Is it really private?)
  • Even if I can satisfy myself that posts are private now, will the privacy policy change in the future? (And do I have any control over this?). See WhatsApp warned over Facebook data share deal

Personally, I wouldn't trust Facebook or Twitter, or any of the mainstream social media channels.

Another privacy issue is related to the reputation of the university, and the public exposure of students' comments. It really isn't appropriate to publish these on-line on a public site, or on mainstream social media. Especially because the comments could be incorrect, malicious or misconstrued.

I would say it is far better to host the technology on private systems that are internal to the university. This, combined with a provision to post anonymously, provides a 'walled garden' where all the issues around privacy are eliminated, and which provides a safe environment for users.

However, the availability and suitability of such an internal system may be a challenge.

Study-Space

Study-Space is an app that I first started to build in September 2015, and which is currently undergoing small-scale trials at the university. Primarily designed for social or collaborative learning, the system is internal to the university and private to each student cohort where it is used. It also allows students to post anonymously, and a few months ago I realised that it is also a good match for collecting student feedback data for SSLCs.

So, at the end of October, the app was tried with two SSLC channels - one for MPharm first year students,and the other for Pharmacology first year students. So far, one channel has received a single post, but the other had many. It will be interesting to see how this develops over the academic year.

Unfortunately, I can't show the results from the live SSLC channels because it is private! However, I did use Study-Space during the session with Academic Reps. The result was that 18 of the 24 Reps installed the ios/Android app, or used the web-app. The results from the interactive session are shown below.

The Next Step

An undergraduate coder has recently commenced work on 'the SSLC App'.  Although loosely based on the Study-Space app, the next step is to look at requirements and find out what is needed in terms of the type of data that should be collected, and the data visualisations required.

 

ss-acad-reps-1

The Study-Space app was used interactively during the session

 

ss-acad-reps-2

The app can also be used as an Audience Response System. In this example, the question asked was 'Could you use this app for your SSLC?'

 

ss-acad-reps-3

The Voting Competition reveals that Study-Space and Panopto were the top-voted answers to the prompt 'Please post any ideas you have for exploiting technology for engagement and feedback. '

Save

 

Stuiz

📥  Apps, Commercialisation, Competition, Jisc, Mobile, student, Technology

A guest blog by our student Azhar Jamal who previously worked for me on some app projects. He entered the Jisc Student Ideas Competition 2016 and has now secured funding to commercialise his own app idea 'Stuiz'.  I wish him every success.  Here he shares his story.

azhar-pitch

Azhar pitching Stuiz at Summer of Student Innovation pitch day 2016 ©Jisc and Matt Lincoln CC BY-NC-ND

Stuiz

by Azhar Jamal

The ‘Summer of Student Innovation’ is a competition held by Jisc. It is open to all students in higher education and a competition entry has to consist of an idea, description and a video. The idea itself just has to be something techy that improves the student experience – that’s what Jisc’s about.

The Idea

My introduction came from Keith Brown – he’s really tuned in to this sort of thing (I worked for him on an app called StudySpace). He mentioned the competition in a conversation and told me to come up with an idea and to go for it. Most Sunday evenings I had friends over for a quiz. After a while I made an app that worked as a buzzer, changing the color of the lights to the color of the team who buzzed. Stuiz came from this – we loved quizzes and we were competitive.

The Entry

When I’m motivated toward a goal, there’s not much that can stop me. In this case the goal was a kick ass video.

When looking at the past entries, I noticed all of the videos were just someone talking to their webcam and I got bored fairly quickly. Camp Rock taught me “Don’t fit in, stand out”, I knew then I wasn’t going to make something like that. At the time, movies like Civil War and Batman Vs Superman had trailers out so I took inspiration from them and decided to do something that had that dark, boomy, teaser trailer feel. After firming up the idea, I started thinking about the storyboard of the video and the characters.

Unfortunately, this was smack bang in the middle of revision season so everyone felt super guilty about doing anything other than work so there was a lot of meticulous planning about where everyone had to be at what time. Luckily, I’m blessed with lovely friends; Will, Liv, Lawrence and Connie were lovely to work with as well as Georgia who lent me her camera and helped with filming. With them and the planning, we got everything for the trailer filmed in a few hours.

The closest thing id done to video editing was short animations in after effects. Once I started in Premiere Pro, I got very into it. I stuck to my storyboard pretty closely as I had a good idea of what it was going to look like – I feel due to the amount of time spent just thinking and imagining beforehand, the actual editing was a lot faster (even though it did take a while). The actual editing was nothing more than; placing shots, trimming, color grading and a little bit of adding text animations via after effects. Georgia’s advice on how to shoot (as well as her camera) aided the video in looking as good as it did.

After I created the video, I had to deal with the sound. I knew which sounds I wanted when but I didn’t have the time to download a new program and learn how to make a soundtrack – so I spoke to a friend, Beth Hall, who is a great musician and was studying Music Tech. I sent her the video and told her what sounds I knew I wanted, outside that she had creative reign and did a great job.

The part after the trailer I thought was necessary as I thought more people would prefer watch a video explaining the idea rather than reading it. This took a lot longer than you’d think as I kept messing up / it got dark / someone was mowing the lawn / my hair was dodgy. After a while I decided I was being too picky and got it done on two takes, in the final video I cut between these two depending on which sounded better at a specific time.

 

The Marketing

I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I decided to go for a staggered release, this way it would motivate the people I asked to ask friends and would have given me a good idea of how many votes I needed. The first people I told were my family, who by themselves got a ton of votes. Soon after this I told the friends I lived with and then friends from different groups (some from my course, some from back home etc). The real jump came from emails, of which first went round to physics students then to other students at the university. By end of the voting period I had 477 votes, the highest. I went on to be selected for the next stage.

The Design Sprint

“Describe Stuiz in 2 minutes… aaaand go!”

Those were the firsts words spoken to me after meeting my mentors, Holly and Nadine. They were lovely and in a somewhat prophetic nature, they won the competition the year before with SALT

The Design Sprint  took place over 4 days at Aston University in Birmingham. The most helpful activities for me were; developing the idea, considering the competition, looking at user journeys and creating a wireframe. The exact activities we did during the four days are similar to those of any design sprint. As helpful the activities were (and some of them really were), a lot of the growth and development of Stuiz came from conversations with people at the sprint. There was a general air of self-motivated progress which came through in all the conversations, from providing monetisation strategies to criticising the wording of a line in a pitch.

And even ignoring the buffet breakfasts, 3 course dinners and steam room, it was a great experience.

The Pitch

After finishing the design sprint, I went to Malaga for a holiday before the final pitch.

It took place at the Jisc Office in London, right on the Thames. I watched a few of my friends pitch to the panel of four Jisc reps. I’m normally not too bad at public speaking but as always, the butterflies made an appearance. When it got to my pitch, I was pretty confident (despite messing up the wording once or twice). After the 5 minute pitch, I was questioned for 15 minutes about Stuiz. As the pitch is capped as 5 minutes, I chose to only mention certain aspects in the pitch so to incite the asking of questions that I had solid answers (and slides) for. Apart from these, there were a few questions I hadn’t predicted but I answered them well. If you know your idea inside and out, this bit's easy.

The Result

Jisc chose to take Stuiz forward and make it into a product. I’ll see you on it soon.

If you’re a student who’s thinking about doing it, do it - you’ve got nothing to lose and so much to gain.

Special thanks to; Keith Brown, Will Van Der Weyden, Laurence Cartwright, Olivia Jones, Connie Hogg, Georgia Keats and Jisc.

 

Study-Space App

📥  Apps, Community, Mobile, Peer Assisted Learning, Peer Support, social media, student

Study-Space is a small-scale experimental social-media type app, implemented as a forum, but with a few extra features.

studyspace

Based on previous experience with Facebook groups and the input and encouragement from students, an app was implemented for iOS and Android.

An over-riding issue for students was convenience:

‘if you make it easy enough, then we will use it’

The internal nature of the app alleviates some issues privacy that have caused some concern amongst students in previous studies using mainstream public social media. [1]

In a nutshell, the work is an experiment to determine if a homegrown app could be a viable platform to support a closed community of students helping each other. The closed context provides a secure area for users to experiment in the course of their learning, and does not directly impact on an individual's public or mainstream online identity.

The trial

The pilot ran mid-February to mid-May 2016 with a cohort of around 140 pharmacy students.

Some of the key features of the app include:

  • Private – only available to a small cohort of 140 students
  • Focussed - one programme unit
  • Anonymity – most students have chosen to post anonymously
  • Quick and convenient – it is available as an iOS or android app, or a web-site
  • Simple – a forum of text posts combined with some special types of posts for academics:
  • Voting competitions
  • Questions/Surveys in MCQ format

What happened

Although the app is an optional supplement to the unit, is has been used by around 60% of the cohort. There has been a good level of activity, mostly based around various questions and answers posted by students such as shown below:

Study Space running in a web-browser

An example of a student answering a question from another student

We have yet to properly evaluate the app because the students are revising and taking exams right now. However, the feedback so far:

The Academic View

Dr Albert Bolhuis

As convenor for PA20024, the Study-Space app has provided a convenient way to engage with students outside of lectures, and enables staff to monitor how well students have understood the material that was taught. The app is easy to use and the workload is minimal. Importantly, students are not only asking, but also answering questions that have been posted, and the app thus facilitates a lively peer support community for the unit.

Dr Julie Letchford

As an academic delivering lectures, practicals and workshops on this unit, I’m always keen to obtain student feedback. The voting element built into this App provides a really useful way of easily achieving this immediately after the session.

The Students View

Student comments from the end of unit evaluation include:

Feedback via StudySpace has been very useful.

The app was a great idea for getting feedback to us.

I think the app has been a very good improvement to this unit and the lecturers are always there to answer questions as well as us

I think the idea of the Study Space app is good!

... and the app has been very useful as people can ask questions and get replies extremely quickly

The studyspace app which was trialed during this unit is really useful and I feel it would benefit being used in other units too

Study Space App is really helpful; I hope it can be rolled out in other units (it would have been of even more use in 242/Drug Met perhaps?)

Future Development

Based on the evidence so far and interest from academics, it now seems likely that further trials will take place across the university in the next semester. In particular, one area for exploration that hasn’t been tried yet is synchronous use during lectures.

Please let me know if you are interested

 

References:

  1. The role of social media in undergraduate pharmacy education

Alyson Brown @alyjbrown and Brian Addison @BrianAddison75 –
Robert Gordon University

Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference 2015

 

Antibiotics Guardian App

  , ,

📥  Alumni Assisted Learning, Apps

Our Contribution to Fighting Antibiotic Resistance

Alumni Adam Norman has really pulled out the stops to finish this latest Alumni-Assisted Learning (AAL) app. In just three weeks, in his spare time, Adam created the educational content.  The app was released to students last Thursday, in-time for Global Antibiotic Awareness Week 2015, and so far 50 Pharmacy undergraduates have already given it a go and completed an on-line survey. Currently, the app is only available internally, but we will be modifying the app according to student feedback and will be working towards a version that will be suitable for Apple App-Store and Google Play.

AB

The app aims:

1. To introduce and review the basics of bacterial infections and how they are treated

2. To introduce and review the concept of antibiotic resistance and why it is important

3. To introduce and review the strategies being proposed to reduce/prevent the development of resistance

4. To motivate the app user to sign up for the Antibiotic Guardian scheme

AB4

A Student Survey

The survey will remain open until the end of Antibiotics Awareness Week.  So far we have collected responses from 50 students and the results are fantastic! They found it easy-to-use, useful, and it increased their awareness of antibiotic resistance. Please check out all their comments:

Evaluation Results

AB3 AB2

 

 

 

 

 

Placements App

📥  Alumni Assisted Learning, App Factory, Apps, Peer Assisted Learning, student

A new app has been completed for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Created by recent alumni Adam Norman, the target users are students in every year of the pharmacy degree course. It aims to to provide comprehensive information about getting the most out of practice-based learning in the degree and work experience, in order to help the student successfully apply for (and complete) the pre-registration year.

placements11

The app is the first output from the App-Factory Alumni Fund project, and incorporates slideshows, videos and quizzes. It covers topics such as:

  • Preparing for a placement
  • Personal skills, attributes and values
  • Communication, teamwork and leadership
  • Professionalism and ethics

The app is currently undergoing quality checks by academics, and initial feedback is very positive. My colleague Julie Letchford commented that 'there's loads of detail here which will be very useful to students going on any placement in pharmacy or indeed any subject area'

It is hoped to release the app in the near future, and to evaluate with students from each year group of the MPharm degreee.

placements2 placements3 placements4 Alumni Fund LOGO Long Dark-on-Light

 

 

 

Apps for Promoting Research

📥  Apps, Mobile, Research, student

Light-Activated Sun Cream App

Small Poster Light Activated Sun Cream
May was Skin Cancer Awareness month, and on Thursday 28th May a small group from the department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology set-up a display in the Lime Tree Cafe at lunchtime.  The event was organised by the central Research Marketing team under the umbrella of 'Research Rocket on Tour' which promotes research straight to the student body.

For us, there were two specific aims:

  • to promote our research around Light-Activated Sun Cream
  • to raise awareness of the dangers of Sun-Light

In order to help achieve this aim, we decided to trial the use of app that could be demonstrated on tablets and installed on students mobile devices.

An App for Disseminating Research

I've already evaluated custom apps for teaching and learning, and discovered that this medium is very popular with students. This is hardly surprising, given that young people are increasingly using apps and mobile devices, and that they belong to an 'App Culture' that pervades every aspect of their lives.

Although we started building the app just a week before the event, it was possible to adapt both existing materials (powerpoint slides) and new material (an animation and quiz) into the app.

The new animation was created using VideoScribe. This took a couple of hours to create and was very last minute, so it still requires some refinement. However, it does clarify how our sun cream works.

The Results

The real stars were the team, who took their iPads or Android tablets and directly engaged with students. I was particularly impressed with Ali and Sharareh who mingled and promoted the app to the customers. The app provided a good vehicle that made it possible to actively engage with young people and it seemed to work really well as a promotional tool.

In all, 28 feedback questionnaires were received from students in the cafe. Most of these were completed between noon and 1pm when there was the most traffic in the Lime Tree.

Ali demonstrating the app on a tablet

Apart from anything else, there was a real buzz and excitement amongst the team. At the time, it certainly felt that the app was a success. The evidence also supports this:

Evaluation Results: Survey-Lime-Tree-2015

Although it is a relatively small sample of students, the results indicate that the team did a fantastic job promoting our research, and the main message appears to have been conveyed:

Did-the-app-increase-awareness

The Team

groupphoto2

The team from the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. From left to right:

Ali Miri, Olivier Reelfs, Kunal Tewari, Ian Eggleston, Charareh Pourzand, Sharareh Houshmandyar, Keith Brown, Ruggero Dondi

Also, many thanks to Maree Perkins from the central Research Marketing team for her support and laughter!

The Future

Dissemination of research is now a common requirement imposed by funding bodies. This is often achieved by the use of twitter, blogs or web sites. The use of apps in this context represents a new approach that could appeal to a different type of audience and extend the reach of existing provisions, both for public engagement and to enhance the international reputation of the university for world-class research.

Our Suncream app is currently only available from the internal app-store that is private to staff and students. However, the placement of apps in the global app-stores such the Apple App-Store and Google Play also represents an opportunity for further exploration and evaluation. Given that the App-Factory makes it quick and easy to create apps, I am keen to further exploit apps for the promotion and dissemination of research, both internally and externally.

Based on the success of this event, we are now aiming to repeat the experience later this year with an enhanced version of the app. Our awards winning alumni Cristina Dumitru has agreed to do produce some additional animations that will be incorporated into the app over the summer. I can't wait.