The preparation for the EAST project is well under its way. The engineering students are already working on developing skills in providing constructive feedback but this year we are joined by medical students. Their collaboration with Glasgow-based students is going to be of slightly different nature and today we looked into that in more detail.
We held two online sessions using a Wiziq room, courtesy of the Islamic University of Gaza. In total, 22 students attended, which was a really good turnout. The technology worked pretty well most of the time with only occasional disruptions. I led the session using slides to help the students remained focused and attentive. They could ask questions throughout the session and as usual they did – I think this is one of the reasons I like working with the students from IUG. They are active, listen carefully and ask good questions.
We covered things we’d done so far like joining a Facebook group, adding an introduction to the Padlet wall and signing a consent form (as for us this project is about gathering data to assess impact of various types of telecollaborative student partnerships on students’ learning). I then briefly outlined the differences between the engineers’ collaboration (mentor-mentee relationship) and medical students’ collaboration (co-researchers). There is a list of medical topics put together by the School of Medicine here in Glasgow, eg prevention of dementia or emerging infectious diseases. The IUG students can add to this list making sure the topic is broad enough to allow for more specialist investigation within. Based on the topic choice, the students will form small research groups consisting of 1 IUG student and 2-3 students from UoG (this is because of the numbers – we have recruited 23 students in Gaza and we have 55 students signed up for the pre-sessional course in biomedical sciences).
The students will use Facebook to make initial contact and they can also use other technologies like email, Skype and Whatsapp. Their first task is to brainstorm what they already know about the topic, exchange knowledge and resources, so for example what dementia is, what its cauases are, etc. Then they need to generate questions to give their research some focus. Each of them should decide on a particular aspect of the medical problem – so they could look into specific contextualised ways in which dementia is prevented in their country/region. While their task is to carry out individual research, they are supposed to use their research group as the sounding board, source of ongoing content-related feedback and a platform where ideas can be shared, discussed, contested, refined, etc. It is hoped that this way of working on one’s own and together at the same time will help them develop as researchers and writers.
As to the outputs, they will produce individual reports at the end of the project – the IUG students’ report is expected to be an extended summary of the research (around 500 words) on which feedback will be provided by both EAP tutors and Medical School staff. There will also be presentations – they will be delivered by groups. This will be an interesting challenge as the students will have to condense and distil their research into a 15-minute presentation, with a contribution from a Gazan student. This may be technologically challenging and in order to be prepared for any eventuality the IUG students will be asked to make a video of their presentation section – this will be a great opportunity for them to practise their English. Feedback again will be provided by EAP and Medical tutors.
As I said before, the IUG students asked some good questions and here is a short summary to make sure that everybody is on the same page:
- How many topics can I choose? We’re asking you to choose two topics – this is to give us some flexibility when it comes to forming groups. We’ll do our best to accommodate everybody’s wishes and ensure they work on their ‘topic number 1’ but some compromises will be needed.
- Is the group presentation going to be given by one member or the whole group? The whole group as we want everybody to have a chance to speak. We also believe making arrangements for a group presentation, ie deciding who is saying what and when, is a great communication exercise.
- When do we choose the topics? You have until Friday, 22/07, to add to the list (and there was already one good suggestion: reproductive health!) and then until 26/07 to specify your choices. UoG students will decide on their choices on 27/07 and this is when the groups will be formed.
- What would the report look like? We will provide guidance and templates to help you organise your report, select content and use sources appropriately so don’t worry.
- What technologies are we going to use to communicate? Due to the different constraints, Facebook or Whatsapp are possibly the easiest but we would encourage you to try to use Skype (despite the time difference and problems with electricity in Gaza) as we believe this would help you to get to know each other and form a better working relationship.
If there are any other questions, please ask in the comments on this blog post.
It was great to talk to the students and I’m looking forward to working with the in the next few weeks!