Updated: Oct 18, 2020
Covid-19 has changed university education for students all around the world. Learning to adapt to online courses, battling with the undulating uncertainty around contact time with tutors, and moving back home prematurely. Neon Caffeine’s new intern, Morgan Tame talks about his altered experience as he prepares to enter his final year of university.
How has Covid-19 changed your university education?
There are positives and negatives to take out of the situation. Change is always challenging and can be uncomfortable, however, due to these uncertainties I have been able to become more flexible in my approach to work. Initially, when I found out that the majority of my final year education had been moved to online courses I was disappointed because I value the face to face contact. However, this change has enabled me to become more flexible in the way that I study.
Secondly, Covid-19 has changed my outlook on socialising. Recently I have become the president of the cycling committee and in doing so I am determined to capitalise on the increased popularity of cycling thanks to lockdown. I have utilised social media (mainly Instagram) to communicate with prospective students and posting stories of what our club riders are doing during the lockdown. The goal of regular posting is to inspire students to stay fit during these strange times. Instagram has a host of features like using the carousel on posts to include more than one image, this feature means I can tell a story using images and as a result, the page receives more engagement. I am excited to welcome all the new cyclists into the club next academic year.
How has your university supported you?
Thankfully our university has been very communicative during the lockdown period. In March I felt myself feeling ‘detached’ from the University. The updates came in slowly and were trickled down which meant that my course leaders were unable to answer our questions. They knew as much as the students. Now, I have been receiving regular updates via social media that inform me of the adaptations to learning that has taken place. Recently Professor Steve West (UWE’s Vice-Chancellor) posted a video about what the changes are going to be like in the coming months. I would like to see in the future more members of faculty post videos on how they are going to adapt to this alternative way of teaching because everyone’s method of teaching is different.
How are you going to adapt to this new normal?
The main issue with remote learning is that it can become stale and detached from the social aspect of learning. Initially, I was watching old lecture recordings and I did not feel as engaged as I normally would when in a lecture environment. However, I felt reassured knowing that large lectures will not be directly copied to an online format like there were beforehand, instead UWE’s aim is to replicate the style of TED talks. I have been reassured that lectures remain interactive and engaging when online lectures become a permanent feature in higher education.
How can your university use social media to develop a stronger sense of community over the next 12 months?
The most important aspect to develop a sense of community is to remain engaged and present on the channels which they chose to use. An example of my economics faculty is trying to stay engaged by setting up year group Facebook pages that can discuss any pressing issues with the teachers and course leaders. I do feel like I can informally ask questions to my tutors personally or post a group message where other students can discuss course-related topics.
Overall, Covid-19 has shifted the way that we all live and has forced higher education to adapt the way that learning is delivered. I am excited to start my final year knowing that the University is conscious that it will be a difficult period of change, but they are determined to make it work.