Ten tips for FASoS BA students as we move to online education

FASoS students already know a lot about independent learning and self-directed study. You can do this!

Here are some tips to help you as we re-start education today.

  1. Be kind to your fellow students, tutors, and other university staff. These are strange and difficult times. We don’t know everyone’s personal situations. On top of trying to manage a rapidly changing situation at the university, people are also concerned about living in shared housing, being far from home, elderly relatives, looking after children, or something else that contributes to the general anxiety.
  2. Be patient with your tutors. Teaching staff have had very little time to adapt themselves and the course material to the new situation, and many staff are also dealing with unexpected changes to their working routines. Maybe not everything will work perfectly. Offer feedback in a helpful and constructive manner.
  3. Be patient with the technology. Staff have been communicating a lot with each other in recent days, via Skype and other meeting software. Sometimes it works well, sometimes not so much. Sometimes turning something off and on again really does solve the problem. Check what software you need, and make time to install and test it before a lecture or tutor group begins. Staff are using software supported by the university, but there are different options, so maybe not every course will be the same. Some options are better for lectures, others for real-time communication. Staff will make choices based on what they think works best for their course. We are likely to make much more use of the communication possibilities within the student portal in the coming weeks, so take time to familiarise yourself with that.
  4. Find a routine that works for you. This is something we discussed in first year mentor sessions, and becomes particularly acute now. Especially with resits coming up, plan your deadlines. But also plan your days and weeks, so that you have time for study and also time to relax and get some fresh air (if advised by the public health authorities where you are).
  5. Follow all of the advice about maintaining distance from other people – but that is physical distance. Use whatever means available to intensify social contact and to keep in touch with your fellow students, friends and family. Set up online hangouts. Those of you who play online games can work together to triumph over dragons. Agree to watch a film at the same time, and then discuss it online.
  6. Share resources and experiences. Some of you may be really good with finding sources, others are better at using new systems. Learn from each other. The library is offering lots of online help, and is also working hard to ensure all material that is needed for period 4 is digitally available.
  7. This is a good time to re-read the course book for the mentor programme that you received early in your first year, about where to get support, from the Front Desk, study advisers, mentors, student services, etc.
  8. Embrace the learning opportunity. Be open to what online educational environments might offer. It is possible to have meaningful encounters online, but you might need to develop new ways of speaking, listening and engaging with others. Online communities can also be exciting and supportive. Using online systems to communicate and hold meetings are often used in professional environments, so this is also preparing you for future work.
  9. If you are experiencing difficulties, remember that there are many ways to get support from the University and our Faculty. If you are ill or are worried about your family to the extent that it is interfering with your ability to take your exams or hand in an assignment, reach out to the Front Office or the Board of Examiners. If you have questions but don’t know who you can talk to, you can reach out to your tutors or mentors, or you can send your questions to the Student Representatives on Instagram or via email.
  10. Look after yourself, and each other.

If necessary, we will update this document, building on our experiences in the coming weeks, and in time for the start of Period 5. If you have suggestions, share them with your student reps for now, while we think about how best to organise revising our tips.

Resources

Questions to reflect upon
Once normality returns, there will be much to learn. As we go through this experience, each of us with our different expertise and knowledge can contribute to the discussions.

  • How does online interaction differ from face-to-face interaction? Each form has its own advantages and disadvantages. What kinds of students might benefit from online interactions?
  • What do the different measures taken in different countries tell us about Europe as an ideal? How do the responses reflect different political and cultural traditions?
  • What can we learn from history, and earlier plagues and pandemics, about public health? Maybe not the best moment to read them, but there are many novels that imaginatively examine what happens when groups, towns and countries face similar situations.

Prepared by BA Programme Directors, Coordinator for Continuing Professional Development, and FASoS Student Representatives, 18 March 2020

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