At the University of Glasgow Dental School, first year Undergraduate Dentistry is dominated by learning Biological and Medical Sciences. Traditionally, these subjects are taught face-to-face in large class sizes (80–90 students). In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, all in-person courses were adapted for remote-delivery. This response primarily involved embedding learning materials within our Learning Management system for asynchronous access. While this approach offered students flexible access to course materials, we were cognisant of the importance of synchronous interactions for promoting successful student engagement, integration and a sense of community learning. We considered this especially important for first-year dental students starting in September 2020, many of whom were attending University and living away from home for the first time. We used Microsoft Teams to provide a safe, professional space for students to meet, work and learn together. The emphasis was on active learning using a variety of synchronous and asynchronous activities aligned to learning outcomes. We started with a simplified approach and built technological capabilities over time. Induction Icebreakers allowed students to meet and practice the digital skills required to use the technology effectively. Asynchronous activities included discussion forums and uploads of individual pieces of work (virtual microscopy annotations, anatomical drawings). Synchronous activities included a virtual escape room and collaborative student-led projects to produce a range of outputs to support peer-learning. Student engagement was high, as was the quality of their outputs, which were not formerly assessed. Lecturers found the platform time efficient and effective for delivering feedback. This platform and associated formative activities provided students with new opportunities to practice and demonstrate attainment of learning objectives. Furthermore, students had opportunities to develop a wide-range of additional employability skills, including digital, communication, team-working skills and self-directed learning.
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Malcolm, J. & Rea, P. 2021, 'Using Microsoft Teams to Support Active Small Group Learning and Teaching', 14th Annual University of Glasgow Learning and Teaching Conference: Transforming Teaching and Taking Stock, University of Glasgow, 18 July 2021. https://eprints.gla.ac.uk/280226/