First week of teaching and learning from home is a success for New College Swindon

By Jamie Hill - 27 March 2020

College & Higher EducationEducation

For many, making the switch to learning, teaching or working from home can seem daunting. However, the first week of New College students and staff operating from home has been a great success.

Lecturers have been using two main methods of running courses online. The first method is using the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). All full-time courses have dedicated pages on the College VLE and they are regularly used by learners to access course materials. The platform is built for distance learning, meaning lecturers have been using it to continue delivering their courses online, through a range of methods. These include: sharing resources, videos, links to articles, grading assignments, giving feedback, online chats, quizzes and more. There has been an increase in the use of the VLE by over 400% in the last week.

All staff and students also have access to Microsoft Teams. It gives the College the ability to connect lecturers and learners in a safe online environment. Lecturers have been using video conferencing built into Teams to deliver lectures, share resources and have real time discussions. In addition to this, they have also been using Office 365, a cloud service where learners can keep work safe, use office tools to create coursework and also install the latest version of Microsoft Office on their home computers.

Staff have not only attended training on these technologies, but also have been incredibly supportive in their teams - sharing good practice, helping out with technical problems and making sure that their team can adapt to this new way of working.

Ian Taylor, Learning Technology Manager, said: “The first week has been incredibly successful. Staff have been so supportive of each other and their learners - really going the extra mile (and then some) to make sure they can teach from home successfully.  We know there have been issues across the globe due to the sheer amount of people using the services we have been using. The IT Team have been working hard to resolve problems and help people work and the staff have been brilliant in helping each other. They really have stepped up to this challenge and I have nothing but admiration for them all.'

Mike Phipps, Assistant Curriculum Manager at New College, commented on his experiences of teaching from home this week. He said: “Whilst is has been a steep learning curve, we have seen both the maths team and the students rise to the challenge of online learning, to the extent that many of them are more engaged than ever before. We are learning new technology and ways of learning that will benefit us all into the future and beyond the coronavirus.”

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