A free resource to help teachers and students to gain a deeper understanding of how the body works has been launched by The Physiological Society in partnership with the University of Liverpool.
The resource, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), has been specifically designed to support the A-level Biology curriculum, with a focus on the respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Physiology: The Science of Life, is an interactive course that uses innovative teaching approaches to convey complex concepts and topics. Some of the concepts include gaseous exchange, spirometry, nervous coordination and control; topics that we know – from consultation with students and teachers – are more difficult to understand.
As well as the curriculum-linked content, there is an opportunity to be guided through the process of data collection, analysis and presentation and to learn more about the latest discoveries from scientists working in the areas covered in the MOOC. The MOOC will also provide an insight into studying a biomedical science subject at university – looking beyond the walls of several institutions that offer physiology or related degrees.
The lead physiologist for the course, Dr Terry Gleave, said “I love physiology as it is all about investigating how things in nature work. In order to be able to use something properly and efficiently or to fix something that is broken, you must first understand in detail how the item works. That is the same for the human body. This, short course has been designed around the syllabi of the major UK A-level exam boards. So provides an excellent resource to support and extend the face to face teaching in the classroom”
The MOOC is a 3-week course, starting on 25 September, and is hosted on one of the leading MOOC platforms, FutureLearn. The platform allows easy navigation and the employment of a range of different media (such as video, animation, articles and quizzes) to ensure accessibility of the content. There is also a discussion forum that allows learners of all backgrounds to chat informally amongst themselves and with moderators. All aspects of the course have been developed with a ‘mobile first’ mindset so that students can get a great experience on their smartphones.
We hope that you might consider taking part in the MOOC and promoting it to your students, especially those considering a degree in the biomedical sciences. If you do take part, please contribute to the discussion boards and consider using some of the resources in your own teaching. For your students, the MOOC will not only support their study, but will provide a good addition to UCAS applications and offer an insight to the transition to university and the career opportunities that might follow.
Research has found some entire year groups take part in MOOCs such as these that enrich classroom based learning. In some schools, ‘MOOC Groups’ form, whereby students do the course in their own time then meet as a group with a teacher to discuss progress and learnings. Alternatively, it might be that – as a teacher – you choose to suggest the MOOC as part of an enrichment programme to stretch selected Gifted and Talented students.