Charlotte Bailey – National Centre for Food Manufacturing – Senior Lecturer – Staff Profile
Work-based distance learners at the National Centre of Food Manufacturing (NCFM) are used to undertaking most of their teaching and learning through an online delivery mechanism. The exception to this is their attendance at three, on campus study, weeks each year. This study week provides the chance to meet and interact with their cohort face to face, undertake group activities and build a community of learning. The pandemic forced us to move all study weeks to virtual and the challenge here was to try to recreate that group learning experience in an online situation. The aim was to recreate these study weeks virtually as our student feedback told us that study weeks are highly valued by our learners.
I came up with the idea of using Padlet to create a number of virtual whiteboards to allow learners to share, in real time, their experience of how ‘Talent’ was managed at their place of work. Breaking up a 3-hour teaching session into short didactic teaching intervals followed by longer opportunities for the group to post their ideas to pre-made Padlets and compare business practice.
This peer-to-peer activity helped to highlight and grouped into common themes, these new ideas were then shared and highlighted as potential opportunities for future improvement with the learners.
Postings were anonymised and therefore low risk in terms of learner participation and allowed for any organisational confidentiality to be maintained. As the end of the session, students were able to download and use their populated group Padlets to complete a personalised learning activity for their apprenticeship portfolio to show evidence of their subject knowledge.
Outcomes and benefits
Below I have placed some of the benefits of using this approach, interspersed with feedback directly from the students on the course. Overall, the ease of use and real-time effect of working as a group for the learners was a positive experience and worked well in trying to recreate the “in the room” experience they look forward to having during study week time (see direct quotes from students below):
“Enjoyed the talent management workshop and the engagement with the other students”Student
“I feel like the group are starting to get to know each other more, and engagement with the sessions was better – rather than just sitting and listening”Student
Another benefit to this related to students being able to express their learning and any gains that were gathered because of this. We found this information by using Microsoft Forms to poll their knowledge level before, as a baseline assessment, and then compared this to a poll taken directly after the event. However, I am pleased to confirm that both myself and students seem to like Padlet so much that I have used it again to allow students to build their own end to end supply chain and I am now in the process of planning similar approaches to support online group tutorial sessions as part of module delivery.
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