Virtual Student Exchange Project


When did you first introduce the innovation?

Less than 12 months ago

Please describe the innovation you have developed

This programme of activities aims to give students a simple experience of radiography and radiography education in another country by creating a virtual space for discussion between similar students at Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Johannesburg. The plan is for two to three interactions each year; essentially discussions and simple topic activities shared via Skype or similar ICT.

What prompted you to develop this innovation?

Increasingly universities are charged with creating Global Citizens. Whilst this is desirable, it is also difficult to achieve, particularly in pre-registration health programmes where such issues as the fullness of the course curriculum seems to present a significant barrier. Furthermore, it is easy to fall into the trap of producing a narrow education where a programme is driven by professional competencies and where the primary focus of the programme is working within the NHS in the UK. This is more important in some professions than others of course. Conversations with similar students working in a different environment allow them to become aware of the some of the assumptions we make about practice in the UK. Lastly, at recruitment stage, several candidates have asked about opportunities for foreign travel, placement or structured schemes such as Erasmus. These would have great value, but are difficult to fit into our teaching year and inevitably incur an expense and whilst this project does not claim to be better, or even as good, as a month-long foreign exchange, it does offer some of these benefits whilst minimising some of the barriers.

In your view, what is it about this innovation that makes it different/important?

Other than ease, low cost and minimal time requirements, this iterative process allows the interactions to develop between sessions, and this lends itself to a greater degree of student involvement in the design of each interaction. allowing the project to become more student-led maximises the opportunity to develop students personally and gain value from the project.

To what extent does your innovation make use of existing approaches, resources or technologies?

Group discussion sessions have used Skype as a vehicle because it is designed for this purpose and is of course free. The intention is to try different software to show presentations over the internet at future interactions, though Skype can also do this.

To what degree has this innovation led to changes in education or clinical practice?

As yet the project is in its infancy having run for just under a year, but the clear initial benefits have made it clear that this projects needs repeating for subsequent cohorts. As staff have developed the technical aspects of this they have gained expertise which is now being considered for other work within the programme.

It is hoped that the link established between the two institutions will lead to other collaborative benefits.

What evidence do you have of the impact of the innovation?

A more formal evaluation needs to be undertaken, and that is one of the ‘next-step’ activities. Informally, feedback from students was that the sessions were enjoyable and they appreciated the potential learning that happened there. Lecturers leading the sessions at each end of the interactions noted the obvious engagement of students; in particular the way in which more quiet students became equal members of the group, talking as enthusiastically as any other.

To what degree has the innovation been disseminated in your organisation or elsewhere?

Thus far the project work has been reported to two committees, but more importantly featured as a workshop at the University’s Learning & Teaching Conference. Key learning themes discussed there were: Working with others in another country, using ICT in classroom settings, interaction between staff and technology, internationalising an existing programme & students as producers of learning.

Please provide details of any plans you have to disseminate the innovation in the future.

Publication of the evaluation of the project is envisaged. As CCCU has two intakes in our BSc Diagnostic Radiography programme a second partner institution is considered a future development. Other CCCU programmes with existing links to other universities are looking at the project.