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Blending experiences: New tools in pharmacy teaching

Adyary Fallarero

21 September 2015

Adyary Fallarero's course combines face-to-face and online lectures, audio feedback and online assignments.

What would it be like to have a course with different information and connection platforms? And how about audio and video feedback instead of the more usual written one?

These kinds of new ideas were experimented on University Lecturer Adyary Fallarero's course on Microbial lifestyles and Drug discovery of antimicrobials in the spring of 2015.

The course had face-to-face lectures on Viikki Campus with lectures from Dr. Malena Skogman and Dr. Dominik Ausbacher at the Faculty of Pharmacy, Docent Tuula Nyman from the Institute of Biotechnology and Professor Paul Cos from the University of Antwerp in Belgium.

In addition to the "normal" way of lecturing, one lecture was also seen online from Montana State University, USA. The lecturer, Dr. Ausbacher, prepared an online lecture which was presented in three sections, one section per day. At the end of each section there was a quiz, and the answers were given in the next day's lecture.

The students got to participate actively. They had workshops with presentations on animal models of infections. They had prepared the presentations even prior to receiving the lectures. They were also given online assignments, and in a closed Yammer group the teachers and students could interact and exchange documents and comment on each other's questions.

 

Yammer and Jing in active use

Yammer group of the course

 

"I know Yammer is not that commonly used in teaching here, but it is a very useful tool for interacting. If you have used Facebook before, it is easy to learn. You have all your conversations and documents saved, and there's no need for long email chains," says Adyary Fallarero, who during her seven years in Åbo Akademi University was educated in new ways of teaching at Tritonia EduLab in Åbo Akademi University’s campus in Vaasa.

Another, less known tool Adyary Fallarero used for the course was Jing, a freely available screencast software. In Jing, the teacher can give video/audio feedback on the assignments by simply recording a video while commenting on the assignment and making marks on the student’s file, which can be a PowerPoint, a Word document or any other commonly used type.

Short videos can be recorded in this manner and a link is automatically created which can be sent out directly to the students. This is a tool that can additionally be used for giving feedbacks to students doing their master thesis, or their doctoral projects or in the everyday life of a research group.

"This was the feature the students seemed especially to enjoy. You can express more and express things in a way which is not possible when you are giving written feedback."

Most of the participants of the course were doctoral students, and only a couple were doing their Master's degree. In the workshops the doctoral students working with antimicrobials presented their own work, and others had assignments.

At the end of the course, a SWOT analysis was made to assess the feedback of the students.

"Next year I intend to reduce the amount of face-to-face lessons and add more student-to-student contact discussions. The goal is that the students could also give peer evaluations to each others' essays," says Adyary Fallarero who has used peer assessment in her previous teaching experiences.

 

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The course Microbial lifestyles and Drug discovery of antimicrobials was supported by the Doctoral Programme in Drug Research and the FinPharma Doctoral Program.