Tracy Millar – LIBS – Department of Marketing and Tourism – Senior Lecturer/Programme Leader – Staff Profile
What a week! In the space of 4 (very long) days, staff and students alike have risen to the challenge of learning new tech, navigating new systems, and doing their very best to engage online (rather than face to face). And all of that alongside reassuring stressed students and colleagues, reorganising assessments and getting home tech to sync/work. Feedback from students has been good overall, and they at least feel supported and know that their learning can continue. However, I do know that many are struggling with the lack of interaction, both with the staff and with each other, that the face to face teaching gives them, so that is something I will be looking at in the next 2 weeks.
I had my first online lecture on Wednesday, and had an excellent turn-out of my third year students. I was nervous about Collaborate, and do still find it hard to ‘talk to myself’ for 45mins, not being able to read the faces in front of me to check understanding and engagement. BUT I am loving the chat options, and find that the online lecture with a smaller group of students who all know each other (35 in my third year module) has more chatting, fun and interaction than some face to face lectures! I really enjoyed the engaging conversation happening, and the fun the students were having with each other (joking around and making light of a difficult situation). In my larger lecture I should have 150 students, but 60 turned up for my 9am Thursday lecture – not a bad turn out and I was told that’s because they could stay in PJ’s/bed and still access the teaching! Again it was challenging to ‘talk to myself’. Although there were more of them online, less of them engaged directly with me via the chat option, but those who did were helpful, supportive, giving me the feedback I was asking for etc, and that’s definitely better than the response to questions I get in DCB1101 during this usual lecture slot.
Overall, it feels like we have been thrown in at the deep end, but I see everyone around me swimming … we will get to grips with these platforms and hopefully they will expand our options for teaching and learning as we move back towards our usual teaching schedule in September (fingers crossed).
Huge thanks and appreciation to all the digital tools experts (Chang, Ben, Daniel and everyone else in the Digital Education team) who have been holding our hands through this, and the IT team who sat patiently with me getting my laptop to sync etc. to enable me to trial these new ways of working.