From changing their teaching styles and assessment platforms to ensuring additional support and resources were available for those who needed them, the coronavirus pandemic has provided plenty of unforeseen challenges that required extra effort from both students and lecturers.
“I organised twilight zoom drop-ins, in addition to daytime ones, to fit in with students’ jobs and different time zones,” explains Lecturer in Business, Jackie Campbell.
“And, I recorded my lecture and seminars with structured activities and had students take breaks and rejoin after researching, and provided additional resources – like instructional videos, Ted Talks and interviews with industry leaders to appeal to different learning styles and the international students who could access them in their own time.
“I also made a very detailed assignment checklist, with structured questions asking them to think about what they had included throughout, including citations, links between topics, critical analysis thoughts and evaluation. It also included reminders of theory, which was essential as they’d had recorded lectures for all three weeks of theory.”
Paul Summers, Course Leader in Project Management adds: “Covid-19 meant we made very rapid changes to an online examination for business students instead of a paper-based one, which was very successful, and enabled students to complete the module without too much disruption.
“It required a significant amount of effort to have 110 questions over the two examinations in place, together with feedback for each question and the four options, but this did mean my team could discuss with students through a Zoom session the areas which caused the students the most problems and cover other topics as requested by the students who attended.”
But it wasn’t just teaching that had to change, with some international students stranded,due to the pandemic, lecturers also found themselves worrying more about their student welfare.
“I made personal contact with my vulnerable international students from India,” continues Jackie, “And corresponded regularly with my Final Major Project student, who was stranded here from Saudi Arabia on her own, to generally chat and help keep her spirits up. I kept that up until she left quarantine.
“I followed up on all non-submissions to check on their well-being and help them with strategies to finish during the extension period, or to apply for extenuating circumstances, and overall feedback from students was hugely positive. They felt looked after, a personal touch, and were able to open up about any emotional distress they were feeling in lockdown and were able to feel more secure, so the Business Level Leaders then were able to support them further, as part of the course community support.”
For Eddie D’Souza, who is in his third year studying BA (Hons) Business Enterprise with Entrepreneurship, the support offered by his lecturers ensured he still felt connected, both with them and his peers.
“At first, I was worried about not getting the same amount of support that I had before the changes,” explains the 22-year-old who moved to Brighton from Mombasa when he was five years old. “Also, I was concerned about how the changes affected assignments, especially group work, but the course team provided a lot of support right from the start, and with tools such as Zoom and Google Drive, it made it possible to still connect with lecturers and course mates.
“I was really surprised that I enjoyed learning and working from home; something I never believed I would say. But the past three months have taught me that I don’t need to work at an office, and this is something I’m going to factor in with further work.”
Student, Sarthak Sharma, is in first year of studying BA (Hons) Business Management.
“I had never had an online class in India so was really worried whether all the information would be provided,” said the 19-year old from India.
“But now, seeing all the hard work our teachers have put in, I am very grateful that they been there and have helped so much, and the learning structure is really good. I have enjoyed the online lectures and studies and we still manage to have fun in the classes online too.”
The business courses usually have a traditional end of year celebration in a restaurant, where they come together to celebrate passing the year and discuss their memories and how they have developed.
“This year we hada virtual celebration,” explains Claire Hughes, Course Leader – Business. “As we wanted them to remember the great community and events they have shared across the year – the team have all worked hard to keep the community feel going and it was especially important to recognise that whilst it was a different end for our final year students, we still wanted to acknowledge their fantastic achievement of completing their degree journeys.”