Engaging students through the virtual environment: introducing the 'puppet master' online practicals (oral presentation)

Activity: Scholarly activities in Learning and Teaching reflectionPeer reviewed publication reflection


Delivering a presentation on a teaching innovation developed to address the challenges of a sudden transition to online classes. The presentation was for the UK College of Paramedics International Education Conference.
It was the first time I had done anything like this, so every part of the process was new to me, starting with the process of drafting an abstract for submission. There were 4 of us on the team working on the abstract as we had all been involved in developing and implementing the teaching innovation known as the Puppet Master online practicals. The deadline for submission was quite short and we were all busy with other teaching tasks, so it was a challenge getting everyone together for the discussion on how best to approach the abstract. Only one of the team had prior experience of developing abstracts for submission so it was agreed they would take the lead and would mentor the rest of the team in the process. She created the first draft making sure the link to the conference themes was clearly addressed and then sent it to the other team members to add further points for inclusion along with supporting references as relevant. The team was asked to pay particular attention to the parts of the abstract most relevant to their individual experience. Once all of us had finished our contributions to the abstract, the lead author edited it to ensure it flowed and that we had met the word count. It was then sent round for one final review before submitting. 
On reflection, I found this approach to be beneficial as we weren’t sure where to start so having someone provide a structure and offer guidance and feedback was helpful. I would feel more confident in attempting to write a conference abstract in future with minimal guidance.
On acceptance of our abstract the next step was to put together a presentation ready for the conference. Again, the timeline was short as the organisers had requested a pre-recorded version due to the conference being delivered online. We each took a different section of the presentation, developed the slide content, added presenter notes, and identified suitable references. Once everyone had completed their individual sections, the lead presenter took over the editing of the whole presentation to ensure all the key points were covered in a logical order. As the presentation was being pre-recorded this gave the whole team a chance to present rather than having just one presenter. Each team member presented the section they had worked on as they had the best knowledge of the content. Breaking the task down into smaller sections and sharing the work made it easier and splitting the presentation between the team made it much less daunting. It was a really positive experience, and everyone took a really collegial and supportive approach.
In future I would try and be prepared further in advance to allow plenty of time to complete the work. There are a limited number of paramedic conferences at set times of the year so it would be a good idea to draft an abstract ready to build on once conference themes and deadlines are released. 
I would also make sure I had everything ready on the day in case I needed to do a live presentation which almost happened in this case due to a technical issue with the pre-recorded presentation. While the problem was due to an issue at the organisers end, it was stressful when it looked like the whole team would need to jump into the live conference at the last minute in order to deliver a live version of the pre-recorded presentation.
Period15 Apr 2021
Event titleCollege of Paramedics International Education Conference 2021
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational