Utilising the Digital One Minute Paper to improve student experience in post-COVID-19 remote business school teaching

Over the past few years we have been working on updating the traditional, paper-based One Minute Paper (OMP) teaching tool, and creating a Digital One Minute Paper (DOMP) format in order to make it more relevant for today’s connected world. The purpose and rationale for doing this has always been that we believe that the OMP is a useful teaching tool that can be used to increase participation and engagement in large and multi-cultural classroom environments, and therefore improve student experience, however, with the problem of modern constraints on academics, e.g. time pressures and high workloads, using the OMP in its traditional paper format is near impossible in the large classes we face today.

Over the past year we have been funded by the Chartered ABS Scholarship scheme to investigate this in a business school context. The rationale for transferring the OMP into DOMP has never changed, but we were user testing our DOMP software with UK business school academics this spring, when due to COVID-19, much of that testing had to move into online classes. Under those circumstances use of the traditional OMP would not have been possible and as a result, we have coincidentally gained a picture of using the DOMP online and can provide some tips for its use in a post-COVID-19 remote learning environment.

One of the key findings from our user testers – and this concerned any software use as part of teaching – was to use the DOMP as a seamless part of teaching rather than as a separate tool just for collecting feedback. For example, it can be used to build bridges between content to interlink classes. It can easily be used in support of a flipped classroom style of teaching, as well as using it between lectures to inform tutorial or group discussions. It is an especially helpful tool for a flexible approach to teaching content, in other words, using the DOMP to see what the class is interested in and then designing the course along the way to meet these interests. Therefore, it helps you be responsive to individual student needs.

The use of DOMP would be particularly suited to seeing what students are worried about e.g. in relation to their assignments. But with the way we foresee at least the next academic year going, there will be many more issues that students might be worried about, and so using a teaching tool like the DOMP can help you spot those student concerns early on and nip them in the bud. As the DOMP is anonymous, students should not feel worried about voicing any concerns, which they may be too reluctant to raise in more open situations e.g. in a VLE discussion forum. Our user testers found that even in classes with very vocal students, the use of the DOMP still gave lecturers information that they were unaware of. In synchronous online classes, even when students can talk, they tend to use the chat function rather than talking – so DOMP could be used more successfully due to the element of anonymity. Given that it tends to be the same students who always interact (whether in face-to-face classes or online), the DOMP would also allow those less confident to engage.

One of our testers noted that he wants his students to know that he cares about them, and that their feedback has a genuine impact on their learning. We would argue that in remote teaching (and even a blended learning model), we need to be extra vigilant in ensuring that students feel connected to us, so that they do not feel this huge chasm between us and them. The DOMP certainly enables us to achieve some of this. Furthermore, as we cannot rely on visual cues of students’ understanding of content covered, DOMP can be used to direct our work, e.g. if we find that we need to cover something in more detail.

A key learning point from our testers was that they would use the DOMP in a more structured way, thinking pedagogically about what they want to get out of it and have a plan in place rather than just showing up with a DOMP question one week. This also means that some level of preparation of students is needed – effectively selling the benefits to students of spending class time on DOMP exercises. If used more regularly in a course, some of the purposes and methods of using it would be to look for more general feedback early on, and checking core concepts midway, and then perhaps focusing on assignments towards the end of the course.

We will be exploring the findings from our study in more detail and demonstrating the DOMP software we use in our workshop at the Chartered ABS Online Festival of LTSE this autumn. However, we are also looking for more user testers to help develop the software and increase our understanding about the DOMP method. Also if you would simply like to trial the DOMP in one of your classes to evaluate its use for yourself, please just get in touch.

By Dr Paula Karlsson-Brown, Alison Gibb, and Dr Paul Ferri, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow