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Chemistry Embracing the Possibilities

This blog outlines some of the approaches undertaken by colleagues across the Department of Chemistry in responding to the move to a blended form of delivery.

The decisions for development were born out their own personal experience, reflection on taking part in the Digital Teacher programme and experiences of working with university partners Cambridge Educational Group. 


A key focus for the department was the use of video in supporting the student experience and learning journey. The department worked on a number of different areas including:

  • Lab demonstrations
  • Problem solving
  • Content delivery

The formats of the video differed for each area, with some live demonstrations being used alongside very inventive use of green screen to make lecture content more interesting.

Chris Armstrong was at the fore in the use of green screen within the department and has actually produced a video outlining how he did it and sharing tips for those who would like to replicate his approach.

The department also found novel ways of recreating digital projection so as to capture hand written solutions - including DIY setups involving all manner of tools!

Canvas Setup

The department placed a lot of emphasis on how they structured their Canvas courses to ensure clarity for students. Using the Modules feature within Canvas allowed them to organise content into weekly chunks with clear instructions on how and when students would interact with content

Example Canvas structure

Within this you can see a high use of activities designed to promote student engagement and self reflection including Canvas quizzes and discussions. 

The use of quizzes was seen as an important way to encourage students to develop the habit of producing content on a regular basis and to provide an opportunity for feedback from both the academic and their fellow peers. 

Alongside the structure of courses, special thought was given to the use of multimedia to support the student experience, with images used extensively to support theoretical principles and to break up large blocks of text. This also included images of how some experiments could be carried out within the home.

Image showing diffraction of light when shone on a CD
It has been a challenge – being thrown in with only limited equipment. We have learnt so much by trying to find new solutions. The video format has been great – now it is possible to have short extra videos that add explanation and colour to the subject. The use of regular quizzes and formative assignments in canvas has been a great way to tailor what is done in f2f sessions to meet student need. The emphasis on students taking ownership of their own learning should help to produce more self-reliant learners for the future.

Dr Tim Prior reflecting on recent experiences

If you are interested in learning more about how colleagues undertook some of this work please feel free to contact the Teaching Excellence Academy and we can put you in touch.

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