A student’s perspective on online delivery
Poppy Eastwood is a Student Partner Intern (SPI) and has been part of our Online Blended Learning (OBL) cohort this year. Over the 2020/21 academic year this cohort of SPIs have worked in partnership with staff, undertaking activities such as reviewing academic content and supporting transcription and subtitling projects across the University.
In this post Poppy reflects on her experience of working with Lindsey Jones to enhance online teaching and learning provision from a student’s perspective.
Being a Student Partner Intern has been a really enjoyable experience for me. During these times where we are all working from home it can feel isolating, and this opportunity has given something else for me to be focused on, and provided lots more opportunity for interaction outside of my course. Having different projects to work on each semester has also provided a break from the monotonous working-from-home life.
Over these past 8 weeks, one of the projects I have been working on has been centred around course review and a refresh of some of the programme’s Blackboard modules, to keep them up to date and engaging for current and future students. We were working with Lindsey Jones, a Lecturer in Deaf Education. She came to us and expressed that not all students had been utilising the activities which had been developed to provide opportunities to engage with the module content. She wanted a student’s perspective on why we thought this might be the case – and what ideas we had to improve it and get the students involved.
Some considerations were to be made, including the fact it was an online blended learning course, so everything had to be suitable for online learning and interaction. We also considered the fact that this is a part-time postgraduate course, and the students had other responsibilities including teaching placements, other jobs and families of their own. For this reason, we wanted to ensure the material was not too overwhelming or time-consuming. We discussed the different ways in which people learn; for example, for text-heavy modules we discussed how they could be broken down into smaller segments, or involve the use of diagrams to aid visual learners. We discussed the idea of colour co-ordinated tasks and information, making things more interesting to look at to catch the attention of the students.
In relation to engagement, we talked about having the task requirements and expectations laid out simply and plainly to prevent students feeling overwhelmed. For new methods of engagement, we decided it would be useful to implement short training videos of how to use these methods, explaining how it will benefit them and examples of what they would look like should the student interact with them. Likewise, we reiterated the importance and relevance of constructive feedback – to ensure students can perform to the best of their abilities.
It was interesting to learn and discuss other types of modules and courses, and as an undergraduate student I enjoyed learning more about the structure and delivery of postgraduate courses whilst getting to know a little bit more about other areas of the university.
It was also really nice to work alongside another student partner on this project as we were able to bring in elements of both our different university experiences and discuss how they could complement the modules we were auditing. We were also able to bounce ideas off of each other and have the sort of interaction that is sometimes missing when doing individual work. Similarly, it was enjoyable to work alongside a member of staff who was very engaged, responsive to ideas and is clearly very passionate about the work she does and the experience of her students.
Lindsey Jones has also written a piece reflecting on the value of this partnership work, and if you are interested in learning more about our Student Partner Internships, please see the Student Partners Programme pages.