This is the third and final post in our series ‘Lessons learned during COVID-19’. The first post in this series told stories from UTS Business School and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. In the second post we shared another two stories from the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building. This time, our stories come from the Faculty of Science, where Lisa Sedger shared with us her assessment design of an open textbook exam, and Najah Nassif and Sergio Joshua introduced us to using EdStem for teaching a subject with a laboratory component.

Lisa Sedger – an online open textbook exam with a high level of authenticity

Lisa Sedger teaches 91819 Virology, a very interesting topic in the era of coronavirus. In Autumn session 2020, Lisa was acutely aware of the once in a lifetime opportunity to teach her students virology during a rare global pandemic. Lisa has also updated subject content as a result of the pandemic, through which she could bring real-life events to subject materials. She’s also benefitted from remote teaching tools for subject delivery, although what stood out was the assessment design of the final exam. In the past, the final exam was a standard scheduled exam – an open book exam where students were required to respond to multiple-choice questions and three long answer questions. Students were only allowed access to the subject summary document and restricted from using any other content.

However, Lisa wanted to upscale the opportunity for the coronavirus to shape the final exam and create an assessment task that attempts to evaluate students’ in-depth learning rather than their ability to recall knowledge and memorising content. In the video segment below, Lisa talks about her creative assessment design and shows how she utilised the learning management system test tool to create and run an online open textbook exam with a high level of authenticity. Lisa’s approach to the final exam design entailed:

  1. Writing exam questions that enable students to select one virus and respond to a set of questions
  2. Creating the testing using question banks and deploying the exam into the learning management system
  3. Setting up the online exam content area with clear instructions and using Zoom as an invigilation tool
  4. Creating a practice test for the students to familiarise themselves with the exam format

Najah Nassif and Sergio Joshua – effective discussion boards

Sergio Joshua and Najah Nassif shared their teaching stories of activating the online discussion forums and utilising analytics using the digital learning platform EdStem. Najah and Sergio have taught in 91335 Molecular Biology 2 during Autumn 2020. Their presentation highlighted the interactive discussion forum feature in EdStem. They also discussed the teaching features in EdStem that enable greater control, versatility and tracking. Interestingly, EdStem was an ideal companion for them in adopting the relationship pedagogy, as it supports a peer learning approach. For example, students have used the discussion forums to post questions, endorse others enquiries and maintaining connections with their peers. During their presentation, Najah and Sergio shared an instructional video showing how they used EdStem in their subject.

EdStem has a powerful analytics tool. Najah and Sergio have utilised EdStem analytics to analyse student posts in discussion forums and understand the students’ learning performance. Watch the full presentation to learn more about how Najah and Sergio used EdStem during Autumn 2020. In the quotes below the video, you can see the positive responses from students given to the Student Feedback Survey (SFS) question: “What did you particularly like in this subject?”

Student feedback

The shift to online has definitely been an interesting experience. I actually like the use of Ed discussion more than what we had been using before which was the UTSOnline discussion board where no one really discussed anything. Ed discussion has been helpful and a great way to interact.

The Ed discussion board was a very helpful tool in facilitating easy interaction between tutors and students

I enjoyed the group work and I found a lot of the overall content to be very interesting. The edstem forums were also a very good way of getting quick responses and information needed for work

  • Thanks for some great talks. So interesting to hear about the value of synchronous and asynchronous education while participating in this panel asynchronously 🙂
    Some great advice which I will definitely use in the classZoom.

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