What my learning used to be like:
My first and second year did look completely different to the set up this year. Over the previous 2 years, my learning has consisted of a mixture of lectures and seminars. I had enjoyed my learning experience; it was mainly focused on being led by the lecturer and there were a few discussion opportunities throughout my seminars, even though this sounds disengaging, it worked well for me and my course. I found this way of learning and working easier to create a structured day.
So, what has actually changed?
The thought of a complete restructure of the way I must learn at university, whilst moving into my final year, was quite daunting at the start of September. The restructure towards the digital platform has brought forward a new outlook on learning at university and has allowed courses to steer away from the traditional methods of learning to focus on more engaging material.
Each week, I have tasks to complete, that I can do in my own time and at my own pace. These tasks range from forum discussions, quizzes, film-watching, reading and short-answer questions.
To accompany the new interactive learning; I am still taught through pre-recorded videos, the material that would have previously of been covered in lectures. In addition to the independent working, I still have small group online meetings each week that covers the set work- kind of seminar style, so not completely different.
What was most unexpected for me:
This may come at a surprise for some, but I now have more of a chance to converse with course mates and lecturers. Every week, each of my lecturers host a Q&A session, that gives us the opportunity to ask any course related questions. I’m sure the thought of the zoom breakout rooms brings a slight fear to us all. But as a final year, I appreciate the chance to converse with people on my course and discuss module (or non-module) related stuff.
In one of my modules, we use Padlet to write our comments discussed in the breakout groups. This is a great resource as it is anonymous and allows everyone to contribute to questions even if they’re unsure on their answer.
What I like the most this year:
I love the use of the online platforms for discussions and questions, that can be viewed by everyone. For example, Piazza has been introduced by one of my lecturers this year and I genuinely think it works really well to get answers and view questions of other students. You find answers to those questions that you have secretly been dying to ask. If your lecturers have not made use of Piazza, I would recommend encouraging them to do so!
What I miss the most:
I can’t say that I don’t miss campus learning. Because I do and I presume we all do. There is something far more motivating about getting up for an 8:30 when there is a place to be for it. Procrastinating sat in the forum with a coffee and friends is far more appealing than sat alone procrastinating at home. I definitely have struggled and I sometimes find it harder to get motivated but adding some structure in my day, I’m adapting to a new normal. If you asked me this time last year, I probably would have loved an online 8:30 instead of an in-person one; so I appreciate the extra time asleep now.