Nicola and I have successfully worked in partnership using multimedia for education for a number of years and we were delighted to be given the opportunity to present some of our work together. Of course, the down side was to (somehow) fit so many pieces of work into one presentation.
We wanted to share the advantages of working with colleagues from other disciplines on educational projects over a period of time. There are elements of every programme which will, to a greater or lesser extent, connect up to other courses. Dentistry and Law both involve communication skills, evidence based argument and professional behaviours, and we have found both our commonalities and differences have been valuable for learning. In addition, we have avoided one of the common academic failings, which is taking advice from one discipline and disappearing to create something for our own, Instead, we have shared our learning over time, which has facilitated development in ways that we did and did not expect.
Practical barriers to working with other disciplines include insufficient time to be in the same place at the same time and a lack of understanding or experience of the other disciplines. One advantage of multimedia is that it is possible to create video and media resources, with scenarios forming part of assessments, and giving others the opportunity to virtually step into our world in their own time.
In our presentation, we shared examples of how this had worked for us using our experiences. We explained how we had used video for assessments relating to record keeping for the spoken word and for adding in the emotional and authentic dimensions to an assessment. We also shared examples of where the attempted creation of videos exposed areas for improvements in consistency, for example, where videos could not be created to explain an assessment as there was no agreement on the standard to be met.
For both Nicola and I, stepping out of our own educational territory and into someone else’s, and the use of multimedia e.g. video, gives us an alternate perspective of what we are trying to assess. This had the potential to expose elements of learning in our discipline which are so familiar that we view them as obvious. It is easy to forget that students may not have the same understanding. In addition, all too often in education people will share the bits that went right but not the ones that went wrong which were valuable for learning and moving forwards. With this in mind, we chose to bring some of the videos we produced to the conference to illustrate where things had not gone to plan. In essence we had produced a script for a good assessment performance in legal advocacy, which involved questioning a witness. We then asked students from journalism and other disciplines to create a video of this, which they did. What came back was not what we expected but proved to be valuable learning for us. When we stopped laughing at the extraordinarily dramatic courtroom style, strong body language and delivery of words we rechecked the script, which was on paper, supposed to be a good example of an assessment performance.
What this provided was the opportunity to deconstruct the assessment, capturing and illustrating the fact that there was something more to the assessment than the words. As professionals (rightly or wrongly) we have learned common languages and behaviours belonging to our disciplines, academia and our respective professions. At times we do not consider this when we build our assessments and marking criteria and rubrics, but they are there.
Our conclusions were that multimedia in combination with interprofessional working can be used to enhance:
- Identification and assessment of the “ill defined” “soft skills” that we value
- An understanding of the importance of perspective and role communication and co-working by providing a scaffold to support work
- Robustness and shared understanding
There are many opportunities to learn and develop their practice as educators though collaborative working with colleagues and multimedia can enhance and support this process. As such, our message is simple, work together, continue to develop together over time and consider adding in multimedia and other tools to enhance that process.
Ilona Johnson is a Senior Clinical Lecturer and Consultant in Dental Public Health at Cardiff University. She is also a 2017 National Teaching Fellow and a keen innovator in education and interprofessional practice. You can keep updated on the progress of Ilona’s latest projects and her work with Nicola Harris though Twitter @ilona_johnson @n__harris