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TEL Blog

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TEL Blog

Every month, the Technology Enhanced Learning team will post on a variety of topics surrounding the use of technology to support teaching and learning. 

Eight accessibility workflows that improve the digital experience for all 

Nicola Walters
WCAG 2.1 AA web accessibility protocols aren’t just about making web content more inclusive and accessible for those with accessibility needs.  Changes we make benefit ALL staff and students and improve the digital experience for all. 

  1. Heading styles 
    Using heading styles in documents allows for better structured documents and easy table of contents generation, thus improving a user’s navigation experience and ability to locate information in the document. 
    Find out how to use heading styles >
    Read more about creating a table of contents >

  2. Closed captions (CCs)  
    CCs provided with video and audio content allow students to access materials without needing headphones. This adds huge value in both noisy and quiet environments such as on the train, library or any situation where listening with the volume up is inconvenient! 

    Contact about generating closed captions for your video content.  

  3. Transcripts  
    Transcripts for audio-visual content allow users to go back to find specific information using the "Find (ctrl+f)" keyboard function.   
    Navigation can be further improved by giving your transcript a table of contents created by using heading styles (as above). The contents table provides a direct link to document contents.  
    Both transcriptions and closed captions can reduce frustration for English as a second language (ESOL) students and allow users to return to seek clarity.  

    For assistance in creating a transcript from a video or audio file contact:

  4. Content descriptions 
    Feedback regarding learning management systems often highlight the frustration learners feel when trying to locate information and documents.  Providing descriptions for content you add helps users to identify content. 

  5. Good slide design  
    Of course, good slide design benefits everyone. Distilling complex ideas into concise visual statements, keeping text to the minimum and only focusing on one key idea per slide helps everyone by reducing cognitive load and assists lecturers to achieve clarity of message. Remember, you can use the notes pane to provide further details regarding the content in your slides. 

  6. Logical layout 
    Being consistent with the way items are presented. This could be in relation to the general style of our PowerPoints, Word documents or how we layout content in the learning management system (LMS). This assists users as familiarity helps users to more easily locate, navigate and reduces frustration. 

  7. Contrast ratio 
    Ensuring good contrast ratio to WCAG 2.1 AA standard is useful for those who are seeing content on smaller screens and when any screen glare, such as in sunlight, is present. You can check your contrast using a contrast checker.  Remember, don’t use white backgrounds as these can cause problems for those with dyslexia!

  8. ALT text 
    Additional descriptions (ALT text) for charts and images – particularly where a standalone image is used in a document without any other context - it allows all users after the event to better interpret original meaning. 

For any advice or to access training relating to the above please contact

New easier ways for you to request services from the BSMS TEL team 

TEL Team 

The BSMS TEL team have made it even easier for you to request a range of support services using three new online forms:

Request training – we offer specific training or support with using any digital tools in teaching. This might be 1-2-1 or to organise a group session.

Request a new Digital Learning Resource – get guidance and expertise from the TEL team to develop a  bespoke learning resource to help your students. E.g. a quiz, interactive video, e-learning resource.

Request equipment to borrow – You can borrow equipment from the TEL team to make your own learning resources. For example, microphones for screen capture or video cameras for filming.

When you submit this form, the TEL team will be notified and will get in contact with you to discuss the next step. Get in touch with us now to discuss your needs!


7 ways to make your PowerPoint presentations more effective and accessible for all learners  

By Nicola Walters 

Most of us use PowerPoint for our lectures and presentations. There are several features and techniques available that help ensure your slides are effective and accessible to all learners. How many of the following tips do you use? 

  1. Focus on one idea/point per slide. This increases the chance of the audience remembering the key points. Avoid lots of text on the slide; the Notes pane can provide learners with the necessary text and additional information they need.  

  1. Where possible, use images instead of text to convey ideas or to enhance your main idea.  Be sure to provide Alt Text for images you insert (click the link for an explanation of what Alt Text is) and provide a description of the context or meaning of the images. You can use PowerPoint’s Notes pane for this. 

  1. Use colourful high contrast graphs. Check your colours are not too low contrast. Higher contrast images are easier to comprehend for those with common dyslexia types. You can check your readability by using a contrast checker

  1. Use helpful colour variations to differentiate objects or text elements. This is beneficial to reduce cognitive load of trying to calculate differentiation and assists with a variety of accessibility needs.  For example, around 1 in 12 males have red green colour deficiency so, in general, it is best to avoid a combination of red, orange, green and browns to differentiate information, especially charts. 

  1. Use readable fonts such as sans serif font styles such as Helvetica, Calibri, and Arial. These have been found to significantly improved reading performance over serif, proportional, and italic fonts. Verdana is also said to be a helpful readable font. 

  1. Use a readable text size – make sure it is large enough for the audience to read easily. Some recommend no small than 24pt. Ultimately, it depends on the screen size in the room so be mindful of making sure fonts are large enough for when you present rather than when you are preparing the slides on your personal computer screen. 

  1. Specify the order of objects in your slides. Did you know that screen reader software (used by visually-impaired people) will read out the order of objects according to the order you added them in not what they contain? It is possible to check and reorder your objects on the slide. Click the link above to find out how to do this. 

For the full guide on making your slides more accessible for all learners, have a look at this Microsoft website that covers Windows, Mac, and mobile versions of PowerPoint: Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities

If you have any queries or would like guidance or training on using any of these tools in your teaching, contact the team at


5 collaboration tools to help you foster Student collaboration in teaching

By Tim Vincent and Nicola Waters

There are several collaboration tools used in teaching that can promote active learning both in lectures/class and outside the classroom.  They offer a rich platform for students to engage with each other and contribute to the class actively. As online tools, they also enable engagement to continue outside the classroom, providing an ongoing participation beyond teaching sessions. Have a go with one of these supported tools: 

Padlet is a ‘digital pinboard’, a website that offers a customisable blank page on which participants can post content – text, thoughts, comments, responses, photos, weblinks, video. To set up a Padlet, you simply create a free account, create a board, customise its settings, share the URL with your learners. They go to the address on their computer or mobile device and start collaborating. See our other blog post for more ideas on how it can help your teaching. 

Sign up for a free account at (restricted to three boards)

Microsoft Word Online is a full web version of Word – students can share a document with selected peers and all of them work collaboratively on one version (instead of sharing multiple versions by email!). You could create an exercise for the students to work on and they can then present it immediately or submit it subsequently. 

Here is some guidance on how to use Word Online to collaborate

EduBlogs is a website and blog tool provided as an education-specific version of the highly successful WordPress. WordPress is an opensource blogging and content management system that has multiuser and multi-blogging features delivered in a contemporary design. It is a flexible system to use with your students to foster online communication and/or web-based projects/content.

Free to use via the University of Brighton. Sign up via this support page

Studentcentral (Blackboard): Wiki Studentcentral’s Wiki tool allows information to be collated and organised by different people on the same page.  Wikis are great tools for collaborative research and planning tasks. Using the version on studentcentral means it is located with all their other existing resources, secure, and fully supported.

Read more about how to create and use Blackboard Wikis on the University of Brighton website.

Nearpod combines your content slides with interactions for students to engage with and it delivers it via mobile devices. There are a wide variety of interactions: As well as quizzes and free-text responses, you can add a corkboard, chalkboard or even a sketchpad to slides which can be edited by anyone who has the link!

Read more about how you can collaborate with Nearpod here

At BSMS we hope to foster a supportive community of innovation.  We also invite you to share your experiences of using TEL in your curriculum delivery.  
Do you have any experience in using these tools in lectures that you would like to share? Please complete the form on our BSMS TEL Demo Area. 
If you have any queries or would like guidance on using any of these tools in your teaching, contact the team at


4 clinical case scenario tools to help students apply Knowledge to practice 

By Tim Vincent

Providing case scenarios is an effective way of helping students apply information to practical situations. It can be a great springboard for discussion and learning exercises in the classroom. At BSMS, we have access to a wealth of real-life examples to draw on that are curated and approved for use in BSMS teaching and student revision. Have a look at some of these: 

Speaking Clinically is a large collection of interviews with real patients talking about their experience of living with a disease. These clips can be a helpful springboard for diagnosis and management but also the wider healthcare context and patient experience.

Access is provided through BSMS licence – contact the BSMS TEL Team at

Patient Voices is a large collection of digital stories that use video, audio, still images and music to convey patients’, carers’, practitioners’ and managers’ own stories of healthcare in a unique way. Again, these can be used to illustrate a symptom or patient experience.

You can access them for free here: 

CAPSULE, BSMS’ very own case-based quiz app, has over 650 clinical cases across all medical and surgical specialties. They are can be used in class as worked examples or you can get students to complete them during their clinical rotation to support their clinical practice and seminar discussions. You can see how they are performing and engaging with the topics in your specialty.

Free to all BSMS staff and students. Contact for access

BMJ Case Reports
deliver a focused, peer-reviewed, collection of cases in all disciplines so that healthcare professionals, researchers and others can easily find clinically important information on common and rare conditions. Large collection of case reports online with more than 2,800 articles from over 70 countries. 

You can access them here: 

At BSMS we hope to foster a supportive community of innovation.  We also invite you to share your experiences of using TEL in your curriculum delivery.  

Do you have any experience in using these tools in lectures that you would like to share? Please complete the form on our BSMS TEL Demo Area 
If you have any queries or would like guidance on using any of these tools in your teaching, contact the team at


4 quiz tools to help you foster interaction in teaching sessions 

By Tim Vincent

Quiz tools can increase your options when breaking up a didactic session and seeking students to actively engage with the material and so utilise the pedagogical benefits of active learning. Quizzes get learners to think and commit to a response so you can more accurately gauge their comprehension, and make it more enjoyable too! They can be opinion-based polls (no right answer) or can be more formative assessment (with or without scores). There are lots of tools out there but the following are ones that we can support you with:


PollEverywhere is the handy audience response tool to help get interaction going in your teaching sessions. Many lecturers are using it to gauge students’ understanding halfway through a session, or help students with revision, or get students discussing a question in pairs/small groups. Since it’s all electronic, students can respond anonymously (which increases response rate) and you get to keep and reflect on the responses after the session so you can feed that back into your teaching practice.  More information here: 

Full paid-for account with institutional licence through the University of Brighton. Contact the BSMS TEL Team to request an account. 


Kahoot! is a quick-fire quiz tool with points and a scoreboard. It is more of a light-hearted interactive tool that can be great in small or large group settings, individually or in teams. Use it to clarify terminology or understanding of existing knowledge. 

Sign up for a free account at (some restrictions on free version).

Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms (through your Office 365 account) has a simple quiz feature with a variety of question types scores. It is fully web-based and mobile-responsive so it makes it easy for students to complete. The results download directly to Excel. Click here for a video guide to creating a quiz on Forms. 

Available through your University of Brighton Office 365 account (contact University of Brighton Service Desk for access queries).


Nearpod is tool that combines content slides with interactive features such as polls, quizzes, drawing activities, free-text response, and videos. It enables the tutor to move seamlessly between content and activities, for which the students respond on their devices. Because content and activities are viewed on the students’ own devices, it is particularly helpful if there isn’t any teaching PC or projector (it needs a wifi connection though). More information here: 

Full paid-for account with institutional licence through the University of Brighton. Contact the BSMS TEL Team to request an account. 

Get help

If you have any queries or would like support on using any of these tools in your teaching, contact the team at

Share your experience

At BSMS we seek to foster a supportive community of experimentation and innovation in teaching.  Share your experience of using any interactive TEL tools with fellow educators at BSMS using this short form.


5 ways PADLET can enhance your teaching  

We explore some of the benefits of using the collaborative tool to enhance the teaching and learning experience.  

By Nicola Walters 

Padlet offers a customisable online pinboard that participants can contribute multimedia content and comments to. You can see an example here (BSMS staff only).  Boards offer the opportunity to enhance the teaching and learning experience in the following ways: 

  1. A rich source of contributions. Teachers can utilise contributions as discussion points during a lecture. Gather your students' thoughts and contributions before, during and after a teaching session. You might pose a question to your students before class or ask them to comment during and after on different topics from your lecture. Before is a demonstration of the flipped learning model. 
  2. Explore, build and discuss ideas. Padlet makes an excellent brainstorming tool. Users can add their ideas supported by papers, multimedia and other supporting evidence. Other users can comment and expand on individual contributions. 
  3. Share and comment on learning resources collaboratively. For example, you might ask students to read and comment on a case vignette, a journal article or research. 
  4. Foster a community of enquiry. Padlet provides a space to explore ideas.  For example, exploring differential diagnosis - working together to list and share evidence of conditions that might cause a patient's symptoms. 
  5. Encourage contribution and build confidence. Some students could feel more confident expressing their thoughts and opinions on a Padlet than in the class. It enables us to hear every individual's ideas and democratise the classroom. 

Can you think of any ways to use Padlet in MedEd? Please add them to our Padlet board here (BSMS staff only). 

If you have any questions about Padlet, please contact 

Welcome to the new TEL website

Announcing the new Technology-Enhanced Learning support website for faculty.  

By Tim Vincent

We are pleased to launch this new resource to support all our educators at BSMS in the use of digital tools in teaching. At BSMS, we seek to make our teaching as effective as possible to provide the best learning opportunities for our students.

The new BSMS TEL support site has two functions: 

  1. Communication – keeping you up to date with activities and relevant information that affects your teaching practice, including inspiring Case Studies of colleagues’ honest experiences with TEL. 
  2. Resource hub – an easily-accessible location for you to find resources to support your exploration and understanding of tools and technologies in teaching. 

To this aim, we help our teachers to make an informed decision about using technology in teaching, with pedagogically-sound methodologies, to maximise learning effectiveness and student experience. 

As a joint medical school, we recognise that the majority of our educators are healthcare professionals and academics working across multiple institutions. Therefore, our purpose is to help our course teams meet the demands of teaching across the interface of the universities and healthcare environments.  

The range of digital tools in teaching and learning is growing so our teaching faculty need to be equipped with the capabilities to employ these appropriately and effectively as role-models to our students. 

The website is for anyone involved with teaching our students: university-based academics; hospital-based clinicians; community-based healthcare professionals; course administrators. 

Engaging learners with video

Four ways to engage your learners with video. Pointers to effective video content for online learning. 

The following recommendations are made based on the findings of an empirical study of MOOC videos by (Guo et al, 2014).

By Nicola Walters

  1. Shorter videos are much more engaging. Invest in pre-production planning. For example, segment content delivery and, ultimately, the videos into topic chunks rather than a continuous video. If the only option is for the recording of a lecture, how can delivery be structured to enable ‘chunking’ of the content for the final videos?  
  2. Don’t just narrate PowerPoint slides;  include the instructor in the video. An empirical study of MOOC videos (Guo et al, 2014) found that videos that intersperse with the instructor’s ‘talking head’ resulted in more engagement time and users were more likely to attempt post-assessment problems than when using slides alone. Here, we are not talking about big-budget planning – a high-quality webcam recording offering good eye contact will improve the video. 
  3. Discussing or presenting a problem? Consider ‘drawing-out’ the problem. Think back to the days of chalkboard lecturing. Is it possible to verbally and visually exemplify concepts in real-time? These videos offer greater engagement. The study by Guo et al, 2014 found that students engaged for up to twice as long as PowerPoints or screencasts and more individuals attempted post-video problems. Ask the TEL team regarding software that will enable you to create real-time drawings/animations to use in your videos.  
  4. Consider the format – is a recorded lecture the right tool for the job? If your content is instructional, then present your information in an instructional video format rather than a recorded lecture. Students engage differently with instructional tutorials – tending to go back and visit them more frequently. You should consider making your video interactive so that students can head to the relevant section of the video and access relevant content on-demand. At BSMS, we recently worked on a fully interactive medical history take. Read more about this here. 

The most important factor to consider here is that in creating online content, we need to deconstruct and evaluate the effectiveness of traditional delivery methods to maximise the online format. 

For advice or assistance in producing video content, please contact the BSMS TEL Team


How Video Production Affects Student Engagement:  An Empirical Study of MOOC Videos