Dr Natalie L Courtney and Dr Ourania Varsou
If there is one thing that the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that we can and should make better use of technology, ensuring we use it to our advantage. There is now an understanding that many of the activities that we once thought were only possible in person, can still be done online. For example, I can safely say, I had never been to an online conference before 2020!
I began my role as a Lecturer in Human Anatomy in the summer of 2021, when although we were beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, most were continuing to work from home. Therefore, I was reliant upon online video calls to interact with new colleagues and to integrate into the School and team. Since I was entering this new role from a research-focused postdoctoral position, it felt important for me to build a good relationship with those around me so they could assist and provide guidance.
Additionally, I was meeting online with my academic peer mentor who was assigned to me as part of the University of Glasgow’s mentoring scheme (University of Glasgow, n.d.). This scheme is designed to have many benefits, including ensuring new staff feel supported, encouraged and can build networks, as well as offering the mentor an opportunity to inspire others and reflect on their teaching.
Together, my mentor and I reflected on our new appreciation of using online technologies in teaching. In doing so, we designed and piloted novel models to co-teach Neuroanatomy for 3rd Year BSc Anatomy students in a hybrid format. This meant that while I was teaching in person, my mentor was online, utilising new audio-visual systems that had recently been installed in our teaching laboratory. There were three approaches that we piloted, including set-ups where I lead the teaching of the class and my mentor provided online assistance but also where my mentor took the lead, delivering the content of the lesson via zoom whilst I provided in person support to the students. These approaches not only facilitated co-teaching thereby giving students access to two members of academic staff with different experiences but also provided me with added support and the opportunity to receive feedback on my teaching. Furthermore, I was able to observe how a more experienced member of the team delivered their lesson which was beneficial for my development and confidence.
The methods we used and our thoughts on each can be found in our reflective case study in the Creative Academic Magazine 20th edition to be published in December 2021 (Courtney et al, 2021). As a new member of academic staff at the University of Glasgow, I would encourage those who take on the role of academic peer mentor to consider these approaches with your mentee. Not only could both of you learn from each other, perhaps developing a consistency in the lessons that are delivered within a team, but students can benefit from having two members of staff co-teaching. Thankfully, due to the hybrid format we employed this co-teaching is more flexible and reminds us that what we once thought was only possible in person, can now also be achieved by taking advantage of online technologies.
University of Glasgow (n.d.) Mentoring at the University of Glasgow [website]. Available at: https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/humanresources/organisationaldevelopment/toolkitstosupportyourlearning/mentoringtoolkit/#benefitsofmentoring [Accessed 23 November 2021].
Courtney, N.L., Welsh, M. & Varsou O. (2021) Hybrid Co-Teaching Using Technology: Could this be a Model for Peer-Mentoring? Creative Academic Magazine, 20.
Tait, K., Poyade, M. & Clancy, J. A. (2020) eLearning and embryology: Designing an application to improve 3D comprehension of embryological structures. Biomedical Visualisation. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 1262 (1), 19-38. Available at: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-43961-3_2 [Accessed 15 Oct 2021].