Using Xerte to make interactive e-tivities for the new IPE curriculum
Through the suggestion of LearnTech Manager Rob Farmer, fellow LearnTech Liane Robinson and myself were invited/sent along to our inaugural two-day Faculty of Health, Education & Society course development workshop to experience, and hopefully contribute to, the discussion and development of the new Interprofessional Education (IPE) module which was to run for level four students in the 19/20 academic curriculum. Social Work England (SWE) state Education and Training Providers should ‘ensure that students are given the opportunity to work with, and learn from, other professions in order to support multidisciplinary working’ (SWE, 2019:11). It is therefore imperative that all Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and SWE Health and Social Care programmes demonstrate commitment, delivery and implementation of IPE. However, perceptions of IPE as an additional learning burden for both academics and students alike are problematic and, as such, IPE has to be incorporated into existing curriculums so as not to create a significant amount of extra work for those teaching and studying on professional services’ courses. Therefore, the challenge facing the development team was ‘How can we create a module that can be’:
- Embedded into existing courses
- Self-led for most of the course
- Engaging for students while instructionally effective
To fulfil this brief, we roughly followed the University of Northampton’s CAIeRO process, which is based on the Carpe Diem (Salmon, 2016) design approach; it was decided that the course would be predominantly delivered via self-directed e-tivities. E-tivities combine an online active, participatory experience for individual learners, as well as those working in groups, and facilitates learners to engage with effective pedagogically informed technologies that enhance their digital fluency. The e-tivities developed for the module would incorporate automated, embedded quizzes, to assess and consolidate IPE concepts learned through seminar discussion, and reading and media resources. When considering which educational technology we could deploy, Xerte’s functionality, which encompasses the interactive, self-directed elements of our remit, appeared the obvious choice. Two of three e-tivities would utilise Xerte technology, therefore the CAIeRO team were split into two groups (one led by Liane and one led by myself). Through a creative banging of heads together, the content and design elements for two e-tivity resources were sketched out; I was nominated to go away and, over a three-month period, create the Xerte e-tivity slides.
Although I had a working knowledge of Xerte, and had used it within my own teaching, the self-directed learning brief meant that I needed to develop slides which promoted this design. The project was interesting in that I had creative freedom to explore and exploit Xerte’s versatility and the range of interactive pages which make Xerte such an effective educational digital tool.
Thus, I was able to embed videos, create multiple choice quizzes, downloadable reflective exercises, and utilise the drag and drop functionality, while the choice of Xerte templates enhanced the presentational style of the finished article making it visually appealing, and professional. However, not all was roses in the Xerte park. The CAIeRO consensus determined that the students should not be able to continue to subsequent pages unless correct answers were given. The multiple choice quiz function did not allow for the checking of multiple answers, which if incorrect, would block the advance of the learner through the slides. Luckily, with the knowledge and expertise of Anne Misselbrook our resident LearnTech Xerte guru, and the wider Xerte community, we were able to source a script which we added to the offending interactive page to produce the desired result.
Technical conundrums aside, it was a challenge to source the relevant content for the e-tivities. Cross departmental input was required, and this took more time than expected, meaning the project overran its projected endpoint.
At the time of writing, the level four module is still running, so students’ thoughts and any learning and teaching impact is yet to be evaluated; however, practical improvements for future e-tivity projects can be discerned. Planning and design has to be more focused with concrete content developed pre-e-tivity construction, rather than ad-hoc proposals, which the e-tivity developer has to keep drafting, and re-drafting. As Phemie Wright has identified (2014), “very little research or literature is available regarding practical [learning] design advice” (p.173). As a result of the IPE project, my advice is, don’t just storyboard, have the content ready to go so that developer concentration is focused on the interactivity, and presentation of the design, ensuring the effective production of impactful learning resources.
Salmon, G. (2016) Carpe Diem – A team based approach to learning design. [Online]. Available at: https://www.gillysalmon.com/carpe-diem.html Accessed 04/10/19.
Salmon, G. (2016) E-tivities. [Online]. Available at: https://www.gillysalmon.com/e-tivities.html Accessed 14/02/20.
Usher, J. (2014) De-Mystifying the CAIeRO. [Online]. Available at: https://blogs.northampton.ac.uk/learntech/2014/12/24/demystifying-the-caiero/ Accessed on 14/02/20.
Wright, P. (2014). “E-tivities from the Front Line”: A Community of Inquiry Case Study Analysis of Educators’ Blog Posts on the Topic of Designing and Delivering Online Learning. Education Sciences, 4(2), pp. 172-192. Available at: https://search.proquest.com/docview/1554606873?accountid=12834&rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo Accessed on 04/10/19.
To view an example of the Xerte slides created for IPE, click on the following link:
 Social Work England (2019) Qualifying Education and Training Standards 2020. London: SWE.
 Rough in that, we loosely applied the 7 CAIeRO stages, but time constraints meant that ideas were never really fleshed out.
 See https://www.gillysalmon.com/e-tivities.html for further information on e-tivities.
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