Barco’s Virtual classroom to expand reach of University College London’s professional development programme

London, UK, 10 June 2020: The prestigious University College London (UCL) recently selected the Barco weConnect virtual classroom technology as one of its teaching platforms for its CPD (Continuing Professional Development) medical education offering. Thanks to weConnect, UCL’s Division of Surgery and Interventional Science can now offer a more engaging remote teaching experience and expand its audience across continents.

UCL is London’s leading multidisciplinary university with more than 13,000 staff and 42,000 students from 150 different countries. UCL is organised into 11 faculties, within which there are over 100 departments, institutes and research centres. Ranking as the world’s eight top university and number one in Europe for Medical Technology (Source: QS World University Rankings), UCL has been educating doctors and scientists in London since 1834.

Remote, real-time teaching

With the selection of Barco weConnect, UCL educators will be able to address the growing need for remote teaching in an engaging, interactive learning environment, both for the teacher and the student. UCL also wants to use the platform to connect globally with other surgeons and medical experts.

The institute has always had an international focus but with the recent spread of COVID-19, the need to connect with experts in Europe, the Americas and Asia, who are at the forefront of COVID-19 expertise, has only increased. Professor John Kelly, consultant urological surgeon, specialising in robotic surgery for bladder and prostate cancer at UCL, comments: “There are many platforms to connect, but we have found that we can use Barco’s system in a way that has not been possible with other technologies. The way teachers and students can interact is unparalleled, and therefore, this system comes at just the right time.”

UCL uses the weConnect platform for synchronous teaching, where remote students can interact with a trainer and/or lecturer. Teachers can see the students’ faces up close and they can interact with them through polls, questions and whiteboarding. 

Two-way engagement

“If people connect to online learning at home, it can still be interactive, but it’s not as interactive as with Barco’s weConnect, where students are virtually in the front row, and know they can be asked a question at any time,” says Dr Justin Collins, urological surgeon at University College London Hospitals. “The real-time interaction and feedback that is made possible by weConnect drives student engagement and enable teachers to understand the levels of engagement.”

Jan van Houtte, General Manager Learning solutions at Barco, says: “One of the main advantages we are particularly proud of is that weConnect enables two-way engagement. Our solution enables open-line discussions in a moderated, controlled and meaningful way. The healthcare market is extremely demanding and the selection of weConnect by UCL shows the robustness of the Barco solution. In general, we notice an increased interest in Barco’s weConnect. These changing times are an accelerator for virtual classrooms. ”

International students

Working with a virtual classroom environment allows you to overcome any restriction on travel. Professor John Kelly comments: “There was an assumption that if you want high-quality education, you need to travel. But we have come to realise that with innovative technology like weConnect, this is no longer true. The system even enables us to offer a much better environment in some respects. COVID-19 might have been the catalyst for this, but we were already moving in this direction.”

Enriched teaching experience

weConnect allows UCL’s Division of Surgery and Interventional Science to get more out of its teaching sessions and, as a result, the institute is already considering using the platform for more applications. One of the biggest advantages, according to Dr. Justin Collins, is that the platform can collect data about the interaction within the class, “when you teach, you usually need to ask questions to confirm that people have understood what you’re saying. With the virtual classroom, the online responses that confirm understanding are collected as data in real time via polls and the interactive whiteboard.”

UCL is also using weConnect for scientific research and publications. The so-called Delphi process, where key opinion leaders on a certain subject matter discuss and aim to reach a consensus, is another application where the Barco virtual classroom is an excellent application. The first accelerated Delphi process has taken place early May with contribution of 24 opinion leaders. The whole process, which normally takes months, was successfully completed within 48 hours.