The prestigious University College London (UCL) has selected Barco’s weConnect virtual classroom technology as a teaching platform for its continuing professional development medical education offering. Thanks to weConnect, UCL can offer a more engaging remote teaching experience and expand its audience across continents.
UCL is London’s leading multidisciplinary university, with more than 13,000 staff and 42,000 students from 150 different countries. UCL is organized into 11 faculties, within which there are over 100 departments, institutes and research centers. Ranking as the world’s 8th top university and number 1 In Europe For Medical Technology (according to QS World University Rankings), UCL has been educating doctors and scientists in London since 1834.
High-end healthcare education
The training of medical professionals has a direct impact on the quality of patient lives. Which is why the stakes are high when it comes to educating doctors and scientists. Unfortunately, healthcare organizations today find it increasingly difficult to connect with students in a way that meets their high teaching standards. Because of several recent trends, traditional live, classroom-based teaching is under pressure.
The worldwide social distancing measures of 2020 have made it more difficult for universities and organizations to set up classes where large groups of students are gathered in a single space. The global COVID-19 pandemic has also forced organizations to think twice when it comes to travel. More than ever, they are aware of the cost, both from an economical and an environmental standpoint.
Real-time distance teaching
With the selection of Barco weConnect, UCL educators address the growing need for remote teaching in an engaging, interactive learning environment, both for the teacher and the student. UCL now also uses the platform to connect globally with other surgeons and medical experts.
The institute has always had an international focus, but with the spread of COVID-19, the need to connect with experts in Europe, the Americas and Asia, who are at the forefront of COVID-19 expertise, has only increased.
Professor John Kelly, consultant urological surgeon specializing in robotic surgery for bladder and prostate cancer at UCL comments: “There are many platforms to connect, but we have found that we can use Barco’s system in a way that is not possible with other technologies. The way teachers and students can interact is unparalleled.”
UCL uses the weConnect platform for real-time distance teaching, where remote students can interact with a trainer and/or lecturer. Teachers can see the students’ faces up close and they can interact with them through polls, questions and whiteboarding.
“If people follow online learning at home, it can still be interactive, but it’s not as interactive as with Barco’s weConnect, where students are virtually in the front row, and know they can be asked a question any time,” says Dr Justin Collins, urological surgeon at University College London Hospitals. “The real-time interaction and feedback that is made possible by weConnect drives student engagement.”
Barco’s weConnect virtual classroom can also be instrumental for collaborative scientific research. The so-called Delphi process, where key experts and opinion leaders in the medical sector discuss and try to come to a consensus, is another application where the Barco virtual classroom is ideal for. With Barco weConnect, medical experts can go through the sequential rounds of a typical Delphi process much faster and more efficiently, and as a result reduce the cycle time.
The first accelerated Delphi Process at UCL took place early May 2020 with the contribution of 24 delegates. The whole process which normally takes months was completed in 48 hours.
“We believe the virtual classroom is excellent for these sorts of international committees,” says Professor John Kelly. “Barco’s weConnect enables open-line discussions in a moderated, controlled and meaningful way.”
Enriched teaching experience
One of the biggest advantages, according to Dr. Justin Collins is that the platform can collect data about student engagement, data that can also be used to assess students in real time. “Students often get signed off at the end and they are told they can progress to the next stage of their training. But with Barco’s weConnect, we can do this in a more digital way. We get the data to assess them in real time and to say we know this person is quality assured and can move on to the next stage of their training.”
Front row experience for both student and teacher
Direct interaction with students through polls, questions and whiteboarding
Allows to track student engagement in real time
Supports the Delphi process with open-line discussions in a moderated and controlled way.