Biochemical Society e-course review: Using technology for effective teaching in HE

This e-course ‘Using technology for effective teaching in HE‘ is composed of five modules and the course objectives map onto the UKPSF to support candidates for various levels of fellowship of the HEA. The course is incredibly well supported by educational theory, with references provided throughout. The ideas presented are innovative and would be really useful for anyone looking to redesign or update a module or course. Each section also provides a helpful resources list, including a summary of the platforms available for a particular application and the pros and cons of each one.

Each page of the course has a comments section, where you can interact with other participants and receive feedback or advice from the course tutors. Some of the sections specifically ask you to post particular kinds of answers e.g. a link to a screencast you have produced or an MCQ you have written and an evaluation of the level of learning it tests, along with ideas about how it could be re-written to promote deeper learning. The tutors are very quick to respond to comments and questions.

Module-by-module thoughts

E-portfolios for evidencing professional practice
Students complete forms and questions that document their achievements and the ways in which they have developed professionally. These can be completed over a whole programme of study (e.g. a degree course) or for a specific activity (e.g. a placement or summer project). Each statement of progress should be supported with an example to show how the student has learned from a particular lesson or experience.

Supporting assessment and feedback through digital technologies
This session covers lots of important points and should be compulsory reading for all markers/examiners. The module first described the importance of feedback and the discrepancy between what students and tutors see as useful feedback. It then went on to describe the use of various applications that could help with providing high-quality feedback, including screencasts, audio recordings and how to insert comments or audio clips into work to return to students.

Online test: different approaches to enhance student learning
From in-class quizzes to more elaborate forms of tests, this was a useful module in considering not only what kind of knowledge/understanding the questions we are asking are really testing, but also what are the best platforms available for hosting online tests. The module also considered issues around cheating and student engagement, including offering some practical and creative solutions to these problems.

Using your VLE to support teaching
This module is about how to set up a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It includes a good introduction to what accessibility encompasses and why it is important, including providing a digital accessibility checklist, which is really helpful.

Making the most of tools in your VLE
This is the last module. It uses Moodle as an example VLE, which is handy for me because that’s the one LSHTM uses, so everything I learned here is directly applicable. The lesson tool is one I hadn’t encountered before and is really useful – I would consider using this in my module. The next section was about using the VLE to support wet lab practicals, both pre-lab, post-lab and as using virtual labs as an alternative to real practicals. The module introduced a range of technologies and ideas for using technology to support practical learning – I was surprised by how realistic and potentially useful some of these were. The last section of this module is about using H5P (HTML 5 package) to create learning content, including embedding it within Moodle.


Overall, I thought this course was brilliant for showcasing the range of technologies available to help students learn. It included honest reviews of the pros/cons of many of these technologies. There was also a strong recognition of the importance of using technology as a learning tool not just for the sake of using it.

This was an excellent course that I would recommend to anyone wishing to broaden their expertise in using technology in teaching.

Using technology for effective teaching in HE runs again on 22 June 2020. For more information, visit our website here.

About the author

Dr Beth Sawyer is a Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, where she studies the regulation of translation in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of human tuberculosis. She is module co-organiser for a core module in the distance learning MSc Infectious Diseases and also teaches face-to-face on the MSc Medical Microbiology degree.

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