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‘That’s how I teach my students to communicate effectively online’

Effective communication is one of the most important ‘skills of the 21st century’. People often think that these skills can only be taught face-to-face. However, recent technological developments now make it possible to teach these skills online, for example using the DialogueTrainer tool for conversational scenarios. I’ve been involved in the development of this tool from the very beginning as part of two university-wide projects: Communicate I and II, from 2013 to 2018. I was one of the first to use the tool for teaching in a centralised and large-scale manner in the ‘Professional Conversations’ course within the Psychology study programme. In order to improve the effectiveness of the group conversation scenarios, I embedded the tool in the e-learning modules where students can learn to enhance their communications knowledge and competency by means of a diverse and coherent package of online work formats. In addition to online scenarios, the package includes knowledge clips, good and bad examples of conversations, assignments, questionnaires, quizzes, discussions, polls, assessment questions, etcetera. In so doing, they can learn how difficult communication can be, understand (mis)communication, obtain insight into their own communication habits, and become more effective in holding conversations themselves. This integrated, digital approach is a powerful tool for learning how to communicate, and reinforces the face-to-face education in communication skills. The course is structured as follows: each week, the students prepare for the lab seminar by completing the e-learning modules on topics like listening, giving feedback or collecting information. They don’t have to do the work at a fixed place or time, however; they can complete the assignments at their own pace at a convenient moment, and can do so as often as they like. Each lab seminar deals with the contents of the e-learning module. Course evaluations have shown that students prefer the e-learning modules to lectures. Seminar lecturers have also noticed the difference: students come better prepared to class, which leaves more time for practice and in-depth discussion. Finally, another benefit is that I can also easily give fellow lecturers access to my own e-learning modules. That makes it easier to collaborate, and facilitates active sharing of knowledge across study programmes, faculties, and even universities. Want to find out more? Then take a look at the showcase I’ve created for the course ‘Professional Conversations’ by registering via this link (SolisID): https://lll-platform-uu.nl/enrol/signup/?l=t9233arzGyWI. If you’re interested in what DialogueTrainer has to offer for your curriculum, then visit the Educate-it site or contact Educate-it to ask for practical or didactic support.

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Educational innovation is helping laboratory animals - Benedikte Sam

As the faculty contact for Educate-it at Veterinary Medicine, I get to work with a colleague from the Chair of Quality Promotion at my faculty to organise an Education Sandwich meeting each month. We aim to inform and inspire teachers with recent developments in the fields of education and educational science. These meetings draw a crowd. Three recently developed e-modules were presented at the most recent meeting, whose common thread was that they each contributed to a reduction in animal testing (a priority at our faculty). All three also enabled our students to prepare thoroughly for their practicals: an essential element of becoming a vet. The first module was developed by colleagues involved with the 3R-center, a group dedicated to Replacing, Reducing and Refining testing on animals. The module is available to externals as well as our own students and is directed at improving awareness and knowledge of humane termination in people who work with laboratory animals professionally. The end of this presentation transitioned smoothly into a discussion of the ‘Behaviour and Handling’ self-study module, which helps students prepare for practicals on various species of animals. Students get to see ahead of time what kinds of behaviours they should expect, what procedure they will learn and how to perform that procedure properly. This frees up time in the practical for students to actually practice. A module that ties into that nicely is ‘Clinical Diagnostics, Cat’. The behaviour of cats makes using them as (educational) laboratory animals fairly complex, not least because they are especially susceptible to stress. To allow students to still practice what they need while using as few cats as possible, three measures were implemented: Students can prepare for clinical teaching sessions involving cats at home, using the new e-learning module on clinical diagnostics. That module contains theory, practice, and many videos and exercises. During practicals, the more distressing procedures will no longer be performed on live cats, but on dummy animals (called ‘fluffy cats’), so that students can practice basic procedures under the auspices of the teacher. These fluffy cats are also used for the so-called station exams in the bachelor’s degree programme. Students can prove they possess the required skills and expertise to pass their exam using the dummy. It is inspiring to see how actively teachers are innovating their teaching. And our students share that excitement, since the modules allow them to review and practice as often as they like. I make myself useful to teachers by helping them procure funds and whatever (educational, technical or practical) support they require. I also connect teachers interested in starting similar projects. Obviously, my ‘Education Sandwich’ meetings also provide teachers a platform for sharing their educational accomplishments and developments. Future editions have already been scheduled and will address very different subjects: January 22nd: Chantal Duijn will talk about her doctoral research into EPA’s in veterinary education. February 5th: Ruurd Jorritsma will address sideways entry into the Farm Animals and Veterinary Public Health master’s degree programme. In closing, I would like to share that our students are also developing courses, such as our didactics elective. A teacher had asked them for help: How do I get students to show up for practicals properly prepared? Here’s what they came up with: https://educate-it.uu.nl/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/voorbereiding-praktica-leerlijn-DHV.mp4 Enjoy!

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5 July 2020

New: support for UU teachers via Teaching Support

In the recent period, all teachers had to start rearranging their teaching: teaching remotely became the norm. Teachers have quickly set to work on this in order to continue teaching as well as possible. The CvB has repeatedly expressed its appreciation for this tremendous achievement and students were also happy that 'normal' education was given after all. And although education on location will fortunately become possible again more often, it seems that for the time being, remote teaching education will remain very important.  Questions about education  How do you get more interaction with your students online? Which tools can you use? How do you reach your educational goals? And what possibilities are there to test online? The partners in the Centre for Academic Teaching, including Educate-it, Educational Consultancy & Professional Development (O&T) and TAUU, organised webinars and Q&A's to answer these kinds of questions. A teachers' survey showed that teachers could no longer see the wood for the trees: which party can you turn to for which question?That is why it was decided to organise Teaching Support, a helpdesk in which the partners in the Centre for Academic Teaching pool their services and expertise.  All teachers can come here with all their questions. Not just for the present time, but as a new, permanent service.   How do you reach Teaching Support?  Teaching Support will be available from 6 July via teachingsupport@uu.nl or 030-2532197. Teaching Support can be reached from Monday to Friday, from 9.00 to 17.00 hours. You are assisted by a teacher assistant who can help you directly or who knows exactly who can help you with your question. You will then be referred immediately.   An overview of all contact details will become available as a PDF shortly.

20 May 2020

Strengthen-your-education-week online. Block 29 June until 3 July in your diary!

After two successful previous editions, the Strengthen-your-education-week returns this summer. Are you in need of some inspiration and time to strengthen your education? Block 29 June until 3 July in your agenda. Due to the coronavirus regulations, the Strengthen-your-education-week will be held online. In consultation with the faculties this edition will be a ‘light’ version, with 2 or 3 activities per day. Programme Partners of the Centre for Academic Teaching, including Educate-it, Educational Consultancy & Professional Development, the Teaching & Learning Lab and teacher community TAUU will join forces to offer an interesting programme, which will inspire you and help you to develop and strengthen your own teaching. Join to work specifically on your education or simply learn more about good practices! The following topics will be included in the programme: Sustainable education Good practices from periods 3 and 4 Preparatory activities for period 1 2020-2021 The programme is relevant for all UU teachers, including those who have participated in the Strengthen-your-education-week in the past. Participants of the winter-edition were enthusiastic: “Even though I've attended a similar workshop before, it was very nice. The time-span was adequate (in 2 hours you can actually achieve something), the workshop leaders were motivated and really tried to make us think about integrating these ideas into our own teaching”. Stay informed All teachers at Utrecht University are welcome and participation is free! Would you like to stay informed on the programme and receive an email when registration is open? Let us know on this form! Keep me posted!

19 May 2020

Sign up for the new online module ‘Online education: context and design’!

Would you like to know more about what online education is, how to design online education and what it can bring you – also after this period of the corona crisis? Then sign up for this free online course that not only covers the design of online education, but also the theoretical and didactic context of online education and its added value. This training is about what online education is and how you can design your own online education. Based on a number of steps, you will learn how to develop online education. Online education and online teaching are very different from the usual on-campus teaching. For this reason, this training course also specifically addresses online didactics and points for attention when teaching online. The training covers various applications of online education, with more extensive attention being paid to one application: Virtual Exchange. This is an application that allows you to open up your online course for students from partner universities. The UU intends to further develop and deploy this application in the coming years, in collaboration with a number of European universities. The online module takes about 3 hours to finish. If you choose to take the assignments in the course, another 45 minutes will be added. You will be guided by advisors from Educate-it. Sign up here and start right away!

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19 November 2020

Workshop Effective Digital Assessment

This workshop is postponed due to the corona limitations. You will be contacted when a new date has been set. This workshop will offer some rules of thumb for composing a good exam and good (open or closed) exam questions. As an exercise, we will critically examine your past exam questions, looking for ways to improve them and learn how to write even better questions in future. We will also get our hands dirty: you’ll learn how to transfer your exam questions into Remindo and use them to compose an assessment. You’ll also learn how to re-use your questions in later assessments. By working this way, you will start to build a database of questions and answers that will benefit you for years to come. You will be working on your own questions in the workshop. Bring one of your past (summative or formative) assessments with you! You will also need to bring your own laptop. The deadline for signing up is the monday before the workshop The workshop is usually conducted in Dutch. If you’d prefer to take it in English, please email dp.educate-it@uu.nl for a personal appointment.

3 December 2020

Workshops Analysing a Remindo assessment

This workshop is postponed due to the corona limitations. You will be contacted when a new date has been set. Have you performed digital assessments with Remindo before? Would you like to analyse how that went? Then this is the workshop for you. We will answer the following questions: What does analysis in Remindo look like? How do you interpret what it tells you (P, Rir, Rit, Cronbach’s alpha)? What do you do when your students perform very poorly on the assessment? How do you handle questions that either everyone gets or everyone misses? Can you remove questions? Accept ‘wrong’ multiple- choice answers? How do you evaluate the quality of your questions? The deadline for signing up is the monday before the workshop (This workshop is given in Dutch by default, if you want a workshop in English please say so in the registration form)

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