The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for new flexible approaches to teaching and learning to ensure excellent student experience. The delivery of practical classes and skills teaching was significantly affected. This experiential mode of teaching is invaluable in supporting the taught, theoretical component of Bioscience education. Hyflex teaching environments allow a combination of in-person and remote delivery ensuring no student is disadvantaged in terms of learning experience if they are unable to attend laboratory classes in person. It also allows such teaching to be recorded for upload and later reviewed by students to support learning. During lockdown in 2020 of we successfully delivered 8 Hyflex practical teaching sessions in our teaching laboratories in the Centre for Human Applied Physiology (Shepherds House, Guys Campus) using commercially available low-cost portable equipment owned by the applicants (JC and GR). The students were incredibly supportive and grateful for the opportunity to receive some practical teaching, particularly as some were unable to join the in person practical classes.
Due to social distancing and limits on room capacity we repeated each practical on 4 occasions during each day of teaching, with several students joining for both their in-person session as well as the remote Hyflex session at a different time point in the day. All the sessions were uploaded to KEATS for revision purposes.
The funds from the Education Innovation Fund were used to purchase portable, low cost Hyflex equipment enabling any laboratory space with network access to be used. We believe this equipment provision will offer enhanced participation to on-campus activities by those students who cannot attend in person for programmes and modules which have a significant laboratory practical component.
The return to face to face teaching for our MSc programme has not required the use of this equipment in the first semester, but since the arrival of new variants and the probability that one or more students on our programme might be off with COVID in any given week, the system will be used in our semester 2 module, 7BBLM006 Human aerospace and environmental physiology to deliver valuable practical teaching and enable students off campus to ‘virtually participate’ in practical classes.
Dr Gerrard Rafferty
Dr James Clark