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COVID Diaries: Lucy Crockford's teaching from home experience

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26 March 2020

Across the country, millions of people are working in different ways following the Prime Minister’s request to only leave home for a limited number of reasons in a bid to reduce the number of cases and deaths in the current coronavirus crisis.

In response to the current situation, teaching for Harper Adams University students has moved online with lecturers now discovering which methods work best for them. Dr Lucy Crockford, Senior Lecturer in Soil and Water Management, has shared her experience with us.

I’ve been embracing the online teaching with gusto.

I didn’t have a large number of sessions left but, so far, I’ve set up different teams for my modules, transferred content from the Learning Hub onto the Teams App/Class Notebook (I’d already been using the latter but in Teams it creates a new one for you, which has been quite annoying) and have also used the whiteboard for live teaching which the students could interact with.

I record all my lectures and then edit them so they’re not too tedious to sit through. I ask the students questions and they reply in the chat function or talk via microphone but there can be long periods of silence so I try to reduce these.

Of course I’ve had a few mishaps. Because I use dual screen, I’ve recorded the wrong one and only realised after the session (it’s impossible to tell in the session when it’s happening). It took me nearly three hours of re-recording my slide transitions to match my voice-over so that the finished product could be uploaded for students that had missed the session.

My biggest challenge was trying to work out what to do with sessions that were supposed to be in the labs this week. Thankfully, I had some data from last year and so I’ve structured the sessions around interrogating the data which we probably wouldn’t have time to do otherwise because if we were actually in the lab.

Students enjoy doing lab work but it can be a struggle for them to fully appreciate the data after it’s collected, so I feel this year has been more successful on that front. The fact we’re teaching online is also, I think, leading to the facilitation of a flipped classroom approach that I’ve been researching for the last few years for my Action Research, which should bring us into more higher learning.

Finally, I’ve been doing the usual marking – all of it is online this year. Unfortunately, we did have one assessment which was supposed to be a group presentation but this has had to be cancelled. We can’t assume that all of the students have access to sound recording, so we’ve changed the requirement to a pdf submission of the narrative they would have presented. I think some students are disappointed so this would be something to look at going forward.

To be honest, this situation has been the best incentive to finally get to grips with the acres of new tech out there for teaching. Silver linings in a very concerning and upsetting time.

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