During my time at university, we have experienced an unexpected outbreak of COVID-19. University has been very supportive during this time so I wanted to write a blog to inform prospective students of this, in case a similar situation was to occur again.
This unexpected pandemic came fast once Coronavirus had come into the United Kingdom. The University had to quickly prepare online resources for students to enable them to still be able to study virtually and not have to physically attend university.
In my course, we learn in a variety of ways, these include: lectures, workshops and problem based learning. So my course had to prepare for all of these different ways of teaching to go virtual.
First, we started to have lectures and workshops via blackboard collaborate, this enables a lecturer to present a lecture to all students virtually. It enables a lecturer to take students through their PowerPoint and we are able to view the slides live at the same time. Blackboard collaborate has a number of different tools for lecturers and students to use, some of these tools include a whiteboard, pencil, text tool and a chat box. Lecturers can record these blackboard collaborate sessions for students to watch again.
Lectures were also pre-recorded using panopto. Panopto allows lecturers to pre-record lectures and for students to either watch lectures at the time allocated or to watch them at a time that suits them best. Panopto has a pause facility which allows you to pause the lecture at the convenient times, there are also tools that allow you to speed up, slow down and rewind the lecture depending on your note taking and learning strategy.
Problem based learning and group work were either done through blackboard collaborate or zoom. Zoom is a website and app which allows a large amount of people to go onto a video call together. Zoom also has several different facilities available like: screen sharing – when working in a group this was helpful to be able to share different group members screen when working on something together, there is also a chat setting on zoom, a microphone icon which enables you to mute and unmute yourself, a camera icon which enables you to turn your camera on and off and you can also record sessions.
During COVID-19, the student intranet has been my most used virtual learning resource. Learning central is one of the facilities available on the student intranet and provides helpful resources like:
- Announcements on modules – announcements are normally made by lecturers involved in the module.
- Module information
- Reading list – this has been particularly beneficial as during the outbreak I have been able to access the reading list from the university’s online library.
- Learning materials – lecturers upload important learning resources to this tab, this enabled me to see the vital learning resources during lockdown.
- Lecture capture recordings
- Assessment – this tab includes a section called ‘submit coursework’ in which you can submit your work, it also includes assessment guidance.
- My marks
- Discussion board – the discussion board gives students a chance to ask lecturers questions about the modules, this can be done anonymously if preferred. This has been especially beneficial during the outbreak as we haven’t been able to see lecturers face to face.
Furthermore, the intranet also includes your student email – which many lecturers use to contact us and it’s how I can contact them; OneDrive – on my course the OneDrive has been particularly helpful when participating in group work, as we are able to share a document together and everyone is able to edit it; Library search – this is the university’s library source, which enables students to search for resources whether this is books or journal articles, my timetable and sims. The student intranet also gives students access to databases which I have found particularly helpful during the outbreak.
From my student experience, my lecturers provided a timetable during the outbreak, this supported me to be able to stay on track during these uncertain times. When on self-study and completing assignments, I ensured I created my own timetable to facilitate me to ensure I complete essays on time.
During COVID-19, all the virtual resources available have been really beneficial during the COVID-19 outbreak to help me to stay on track, carry on studying and complete my coursework. Lectures and group work have been really helpful, and I am so pleased there was a way to carry these on virtually.
I hope this blog has been helpful and provided you with information about how Cardiff University has supported me during these uncertain and difficult times. If you have any questions please feel free to message me using the UniBuddy service.