Adapting to Digital

The COVID19 pandemic had a massive impact on our plans for Co-IMMUNicate. We were able to have some time in the classroom in 2020 (Year 1) but were unable to complete the pupil-led project design due to lockdown. In Year 2, we ran a contracted version online over a week but again decided not to run the pupil-led design after consultation between the researchers and the teachers.  

We adapted to digital delivery in a number of ways – first by producing online content for the Glasgow Science Festival, ‘Science on your Sofa’ in 2020 and 2021. These videos helped us to disseminate information about the immune response to viral infections related to the activities we’d run with the pupils earlier in the year. Although this was much less interactive than presenting in-person at the science festival, our videos enabled us to have a much wider reach. 

Second, we used video conferencing to keep in touch with each other, run feedback sessions for the Co-IMMUNicate App, and run activities with the pupils in Spring 2021. Interacting with the pupils by video conference was tough – we couldn’t see the class as a whole and found it difficult to judge their engagement when talking through the introductory slides.  

We managed online interactions by keeping presentations to a minimum and making sure we had pre-planned questions for the pupils and plenty of time planned for their answers. Pupils were invited to come to the front to ask/answer questions and many were willing to do so. Technology also helped us to interact with the pupils while they worked on worksheets as the teacher ‘walked’ us around the class via a school tablet.  

Overall, interacting digitally was less enjoyable than in-person delivery and it was much harder for the researchers to gauge the pupils’ engagement. It was, however, better to have some form of interaction and maintain some progress of the project.