Making a synchronous online seminar engaging: cardiology case-study focused session (Blackboard Collaborate)

Angus Nightingale designed a cardiology seminar to hook students’ interest ahead of interacting with case studies. 54 of 69 students who responded to a survey identified this session as useful or inspiring.

Following an initial icebreaker, Angus asked students to identify abnormalities in 6 ECGs. This initial quiz question kept students intrigued; the ECGs were key to the 5 case studies that followed. Each case study had a similar structure (1. presentation and history, 2. show ECG, 3. student poll on management, 4. detail of case, 5. presenter’s interpretation and 6. recommended management).

Tools and resources used: Blackboard Collaborate including use of polling facility, ECGs, slides, mouse pointer.

Full story

This session focused on how to read ECGs and make a diagnosis through a series of case studies. The presenter started with a short ice-breaker while students were still arriving. Students were invited to write in the chat a new skill they had learned during lockdown. Students said this helped them feel engaged and connected, and they liked seeing their friends’ names come up in the chat.

This session was selected by more students (54 of 69 students who completed a questionnaire for a research project) than any other sessions in this series as having been useful or inspiring.

Angus then went through the 5 cases in turn. Each one followed a similar structure, with some variations depending on the specifics of the case. A brief outline of the presentation and history was given. The patient’s ECG was then shown and then a poll question was used to ask students how they would manage the patient, with 4 options given. The associated slide showed the 4 management options and a reminder of the main features of the case. The presenter responded with his own answer and a brief explanation. The presenter followed with more information relevant to the particular case, and a discussion of the significant features of the ECG, using the pointer to draw attention to them.

Structure of case studies

  1. Presentation and history
  2. Show ECG for the case
  3. Show poll on management
  4. Other features relevant to particular case (e.g. 1st case introduces Red Flags for cardiology assessment – these are referred to repeatedly during the rest of the presentation, Case 2 presents options for patient self-monitoring)
  5. Presenter’s interpretation of the ECG – Used pointer to indicate features of the ECG
  6. Recommended management

End of each case study

At the end of the 5 cases the presenter summed up the key learning points from the session and confirmed the correct answers for the quiz at the beginning. He used a poll for students on a scale of 1 – 6 to indicate how many of the 6 they had got correct (some students said they had got 0, which they found disheartening).


Students liked this session because the presenter ‘explained things clearly so they were understandable and not too complicated’ and because it made effective use of interactivity, for example, that the introductory quiz helped them to stay engaged throughout the session.

Tools help

See also

David Little case study