Health’s Got Talent: Student, Academic and Ed Tech collaboration

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In April 2015 I met with Ursula Smith, Programme Manager for undergraduate Child Health programmes and now Associate Dean for Postgraduate Taught, CPPD and Workforce Development in SHS. She told me about a project she had wanted to start which would take students out of the lecture room and clinical skills lab, and give them a chance to put their learning into practice in a real-life setting. Skip forward a month and Ursula, two students Stephanie Loizou and John Lawlor, and I won second prize at Health Has Got Talent, the school’s annual presentation and prize-giving event to reward innovation in teaching.

What Ursula wanted to do was simple but not often achieved. She wanted to give students the chance to take their formal learning from their second year project and put it into practice by creating something that would be useful to patients, parents or carers, service users or other students either in a clinical setting or in “real life”. It would be up to the students what they focused on, choosing a topic they either saw something that needed to be addressed or drew on personal experience. Ursula wanted to use technology to allow the students to create a resource that would extend learning beyond formal assessment.

Together with my Multimedia colleague Martin Agombar I worked with the two students who signed up to the project, to understand what they wanted to work on and then suggest a platform or tool they could use to build their resource. John had an idea for an informative website about transgender in mental health. He wanted to educate people to challenge stereotypes and preconceptions about transgender patients. Using City Blogs, the university’s free blogging system, we built him a website which he used to re-purpose the work he had done on this topic for his second year project, re-writing and reformatting it for the web.

Stephanie’s project was more personal and as of yet is still in development because it required more work to create what she needed to build the resource. She wanted to create a resource for parents and carers of newborn babies who are frequently bewildered or confused by the instrumentation and technology on premature wards. We plan to make her online guide available to parents and carers while they are actually on the ward with their babies. Like John’s project it draws on the research Stephanie did for her second year project and makes academic research accessible and relevant to service users and the public exactly when and where it is needed.

A lot of the educational principles and the technologies that enabled these two projects are easily translatable to many other situations. In the MILL we have a range of facilities and equipment available for students as well as staff to borrow, for multimedia creation such as photography, video making, audio recording and editing. You don’t need advanced skills to make a video or an interactive multimedia resource. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have them! But more important is an idea and a willingness to experiment in a new medium. Our team is here to advise academics on how students, as well as staff, can use multimedia technologies.

This year for the first time we will be opening up some of our training courses in a range of multimedia technologies and techniques to students as well as staff. Our new service META (Multimedia-Enhanced Teaching Approaches) is a support package for staff in which we offer you tailored suggestions and recommendations for enhanced use of multimedia on your module or programme. We also have a range of free-to-use DIY and high-quality video and audio recording equipment for short-term loan.

For more information on any of the above please go to our website at or email If you have an idea for using video, audio, multimedia or digital publishing in your teaching, we’d like to discuss it with you, regardless of your skill or experience level.

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