Keith's Blog

Apps for Teaching - Learning - Research

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.


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



  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


Copyright Essentials

📥  Copyright, LITEbox

Reflecting on the excellent LITEbox Copyright event yesterday, I wanted to provide some succinct guidelines for academics regarding copyright and the use of third-party materials. Many thanks to Lisa Slater, Legal Adviser, for her comments and advice. For further details about copyright please see


  • Academics own the copyright in their scholarly materials such as lecture slides and publications
  • The university has a licence to use these materials (see IP policy for detail)

Using Third-party materials

When used internally within the University by students, third-party materials incorporated inside an academic’s materials are unlikely to entail substantial risk, and we can very often rely on an educational exception or ‘fair-use’ provided that

  • the amount taken is reasonable
  • proper attribution is included (e.g. a Harvard type reference)

When third party materials are included inside an academic’s materials that are available externally to the university then the risk of infringement is substantially higher. Examples include publishing on a web-site, blogs, a post on Facebook or slides that are published on a conference web-site.

The safest and risk-free way to licence third party materials is to go through the library, or AV for video oriented issues such as using BOB.

Extracts from books:

Using extracts or images from publications such as books and journals require that you scan/obtain the copies though the library to meet the terms of the CLA licence administered by the library. The library can be contacted on:

Hosting behind SSO (Single Sign On)

Any risk of infringement action is reduced by hosting material that is restricted by the university single-sign-on. This includes Moodle and the Wiki.


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.


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


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







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.


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:


The Team


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.




Top 5 Apps Requested by Students

📥  Apps, student

App Ideas Logo

I've just received the results for the App Ideas Competition, which have been filtered to only include votes from students with email domains  So, I can officially announce that 'Boris the Bus Tracker' has won, and that Ellis Nugent has won a £200 Amazon voucher.

40 ideas were suggested by students, and over 400 people voted. Although there were a range of different ideas, the most prominent were for:

  • Transport - Buses and Car-Sharing
  • Education - such as lectures available on phone, and facilitating note-taking, peer assisted learning, task management, etc
  • Information - Guides for prospective/current students and ways to streamline booking facilities or finding the available computers/seats etc

Ian Robinson, Chief Executive, Students' Union said:

"The App-Ideas Competition highlighted  a number of ideas for improving aspects of their university life. The Students' Union is looking forward to providing help and support to promote and implement some of these excellent apps.''

The Top 5 Apps were as follows, including a short summary of text as submitted by the authors:

Boris the Bus Tracker
by Ellis Nugent


Where is the bus? Just ask Boris the Bus Tracker! Open the app and he will pinpoint the exact locations of your bus!

You will visualise the bath area just like GOOGLE MAPS and Boris will pinpoint the exact locations of the buses!

You will see exactly what road the busses are on IN REAL TIME!

Lecture Companion
by Alex Davies


Every student is tired of having to trawl through Moodle to find their lectures. Lecture Companion streamlines the process by synchronising the lecture content directly to your phone or tablet.

Saving time, effort and frustration, you will be able to bring up the slides for your lecture as soon as it starts. From here you can make notes however you want; annotating diagrams, highlighting important facts and adding your own text to the slides.

By Ting long Hui

Have you ever tried to reserve a football pitch, a meeting room or even a book in the library?! If you do, you probably have realized that the platforms you use to book them are not integrated,or it takes you ages to reserve the facility.

What if there is an app in the uni like "one-click-buy" function on Amazon, which enables you to book whatever you want with just clicking several buttons, the process which used to take minutes would be reduced to seconds.

The Queue
by Aleksandar Penev


The app will have a live feed from a camera mounted on the bus stop to allow users to see how long the queue is. Rather than waiting outside in the harsh meteorological condition that England has to offer, students will be able to wait for a shorter queue somewhere indoors, where they will also be able to complete some extra work.

Guide to: University of Bath
By George Mclean


This app is a complete guide for students and all those interested in the University of Bath. It will include all the essential information for life on campus, bringing together all the information available from word of mouth, the internet, and Facebook into one app.




LITEbox Launch

📥  App Factory, Apps, LITEbox, Mobile, Research, student, Technology

How fantastic to bring together all the aspects of how we are using technology for teaching, learning and research across the university! It was good to see so many people at the LITEbox launch on Wednesday, and I really enjoyed presenting my work around apps for teaching and learning. So many people have been commenting on Cristina Dumitru's video so I've posted it for everyone to see:

My colleague Charareh Pourzand also presented our work on a Research App for Light-Activated Sun-cream which has also been causing a bit of stir. We've also now had the opportunity to talk about this app with Jane Millar and demo the App-Factory to her.

I've got a good feeling about LITEbox - to find out more go to:






SEDA Magazine

📥  App Factory, App-Store, Mobile, student, Technology, Uncategorized

My first SEDA article, copy just received in the post. This is Issue 16.1 of the Magazine 'Educational Developments'. Thank-you SEDA: I've received emails from people at other universities who are looking at a similar student app ecosystem at their university, or possibly a national system for HE. Who knows where this might lead...


SEDA Magazine March2015



App-Factory in the Media

📥  App Factory

Not only has the App-Factory been mentioned in the Times Higher, but was selected as a case-study for the JISC Mobile Learning Infokit 2015 released last week:

The JISC Mobile Learning Infokit is on:, and the App-Factory can be found under Pedagogy>Content Creation

The following is the extract from the THE:


Many thanks to my department - Pharmacy and Pharmacology, the Teaching Development Fund and the University of Bath Alumni Fund for supporting my work.

Image by @franckreporter


PAL Apps Student Evaluation

📥  Apps, Mobile, Peer Assisted Learning, student

Student Evaluation of 4 Peer Assisted Learning Apps



The evaluation results for four Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) apps have now been collected. Undergraduates in my department were able to download and install the apps on their Android and iOS devices from October onwards, and many have used the apps for revision prior to their January exams.

These apps were created by two final year students after graduation in 2014, and tackle specific areas in the syllabus that had been identified as difficult for students. These really are apps by students for students.

For me, the evaluation results are overwhelmingly positive and indicate that apps seem to strike a chord with students in a big way. It was beyond my expectations:

Taking an overview of the student surveys across all 4 PAL apps, there is a broad consistency:

  • 90% want to use their phones or tablets for teaching and learning
  • Almost 100% find the PAL app(s) useful
  • Almost 100% find the PAL app(s) easy-to-use
  • The PAL apps were predominantly used for Private Study or Revision

The free text student responses are shown below. These are in response to the question 'Please write any feedback you have about the app'.

Obviously there are one or two issues related to quality-control that we need to check and rectify, but overall this is really positive outcome.  Given this data-set, all I can say, is that apps for teaching and learning do seem to have a lot of untapped potential!

Individual Student Responses

Kidney and Diuretics App

  • Brilliant app, good lectures and videos, quizzes brilliant to bring g all the learning together, brilliant app for the unit!
  • Very easy to use
  • Was very good but I think there was a mistake with one of the questions
  • It's perfect
  • It's really good and should be used for other units as well
  • Good to see the notes written differently to the lecture notes
  • Very concise and easy to read through the topics - quiz was also a useful aspect!
  • It was so simple to use, nicely divided into appropriate sections, with clear diagrams and speaking. It was good to have the video at the end as well, and I felt it progressed at a good speed. On the loop diuretics quiz, the 'Loop diuretics act by inhibiting the:' answer does not match the information given previously nor does the 'The overall effect of potassium-sparing diuretics leads to:' answer on the potassium-sparing drugs quiz. I used the web app.
  • Very easy to use
  • Simple and easy to use. Used most on journeys when laptops are just too big.
  • Quite interactive, good how there are quizzes to do as well.
  • would like more interactive activities and more exam style questions
  • More quiz questions and more challenges. Create different levels like a game to make it more interesting.
  • I like the animations and the quizzes. Could be improved by including more academic content.
  • There is a problem with an answer in the loop-diuretic quiz. Loop diuretics act by inhibiting the luminal Na+/K+/2Cl-cotransporter, yet the answer given is different. (Q7) Otherwise, great app!
  •  I liked how the topic was broken down into appropriate subsections and how clear and concise the information was. Being a visual learner, I found that the video and animations really enhanced my understanding of the topic.
  • Good content, forced to answer quiz in 1 go, randomise question order, app fits the full window of phone
  • I like how it is clear and easy to use, and supplements lecture notes when doing revision. Easily accessed at home
  • I like that it has lots of animation, it enables you to visualise things easier.
  • Nice and colourful. Sometimes in the slides, the back button in the top right hand corner covers some content which can be annoying.
  • i felt the quizzes was too easy or maybe that's just me Q7 I think is wrong on the loop diuretics quiz I believe it acts on luminal na/k/2cl cotransporters

Clinical Quiz App

  • Really good app especially as a revision aid
  • The app covers a lot of topics, and the questions are very reasonable. Nice layout and colours too.
  • really really good, like the quizzes, very useful for revision, might have been nice if all the right answers had an explanation about why it was right, but not completely necessary, also nice design and easy to use
  • I like that you can also do the quizzes on the computer. They are much better than normal Moodle quizzes because they are faster and don't have loading times. The feedback underneath the question is also useful.
  • Very good, quick quizzes
  • I think the App is really really good, and it's such a good opportunity to test your knowledge when you have a spare few minutes - wherever you are! The only way to improve it would be to add more questions,
  • Really like the app, lots of topics and questions.
  • I like that all of the topics covered in the PA30243 module are in the app and separated out in an easy to find format. The quizzes are hard but that is good as it pushes you to learn more around your topic.
  • I like the app but there could be more questions similar to the actual exam, and maybe a few clinical cases to study
  • Really useful practice for the exam
  • Really helpful app especially for revision. Would be useful to have more explanations under the options once you have chosen your answer.
  • The questions can focus less on number memorizing stuff, for eg what is the normal range of albumin. Instead more questions can be asked on the application of clinical knowledge

Digoxin App

  • Good content which is easily displayed and useful for revision
  • Easy to use and very good for revision
  • Very good
  • It wad very easy to follow and topic was easier rob understand
  • Good to consolidate facts learnt from the lectures
  • I enjoyed using the web app on my laptop. It split up the topic well and there was a good use of diagrams and videos. I think it would be good to include the reason why an increased calcium concentration is beneficial in the video or prior to it.
  • Easy to use and work through the different sections. On phones the screen size isn't great, only small when phone held vertical and then if turned on side the app doesn't fit the screen properly - could be something to adjust
  • Very easy to use, very clear information given
  • Good to use to sum up the different lectures in which digoxin is associated with.
  • It's just great that there if all the information needed without the hassle of opening Web pages, logging in etc.
  • Animations are excellent. Could be improved by adding more quizzes to test your knowledge.
  • Fit phone video, randomise question order
  • I like the extra detail which enhances understanding of the drugs which helps with revision.
  • I like the animation

OTC Remedies App

  • I really liked this app and was really easy to use. good revision aid
  • Simple to use and helps test my knowledge. The layout and colours are nice too.
  • the design wasn't as neat as it could have been , didn't work particularly well on phone screen, but overall not a massive problem. they were very good for RTS exam revision, particularly for journeys or times when it's not possible to have notes with you.
  • Questions are too easy
  • More questions please, very helpful!
  • I think the app has been really useful as I could use it as a boost to my revision before the test and I learnt things from it that I hadn't previously known about.
  • The app is good but I dislike the layout of the teaching note - they are in an unnecessary presentation format. However the questions are quite useful. Maybe a few more topics could be included?
  • The back button in the top left corner covers some of the writing in the quizzes. Not really necessary for the info parts to be videos but would make more sense just to read the text. But very useful revision too

Response Rates

Finally, the response rates for each survey:

Kidney and Diuretics App - 23%

34 students out of a total of 151

Clinical Quiz App - 15%

18 students out of a total of 117

Digoxin App - 14%

21 students out of a total of 151

OTC Remedies App - 16 %

19 students out of a total of 117