The Clinical Teacher
Introduction Bringing a subject to life, to inspire and motivate students has been a key challenge during the Covid-19 pandemic. Teaching online for a long period of time quickly becomes passive and homogenous. Students understandably disengage, affecting their attendance and student outcomes. There are the additional access difficulties to synchronous activities, due to timezones, digital poverty or poor internet connectivity. On a background of curriculum change, difficult timing with
... nts and a need to provide better preparation for clinical placements, a physical escape room activity in a life sciences teaching session had been mooted. Physical escape rooms are gaining popularity in medical education, with benefits in team building, communication and knowledge acquisition. (Guckian et al., 2020). Methods The face to face nature of this session was disrupted by the pandemic, and instead an online escape room experience was designed to teach year 1 medical students at Plymouth University scientific concepts behind labour and birth. Best practice in game design was sought from game designers, and considerations of the audience, theme, narrative, flow and player experience, were used to design the activity. The technology used was readily available to students at home. Analytics were collected which assessed students' engagement, learning and pace through the activity. Students and staff also submitted feedback. Findings Students spent on average 1 hour 18 minutes on the activity, and demonstrated a good level of knowledge with an average score of 77%. Analytics revealed that this activity was highly engaging, comparing favourably with the majority of taught lectures. From student and staff feedback and informal discussions, we learned that whilst we had designed this as an individual activity, students had used this collaboratively within their tutorial groups, and even inter-professionally. Discussion The online escape room creates opportunities for successful inter-professional collaboration and team building. There is no doubt that the pandemic has disrupted provision of medical education, with the extent, novel use, reach and limits of technology creating challenges for educators. It has forced us to innovate, redesign and reimagine medical education and medical practice. Having lived through this pandemic age, we further understand that whilst technology can be exploited to enhance the learning experience, it cannot replace all aspects of human connection.