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BE NICE SOCIALCounselling students in a virtual lesson. Tutors Robin Herne (bottom left) and Rob Margetson (bottom right).

Virtual classrooms are proving a real hit with students across our University Studies and Access to Higher Education provision.

It has been fantastic to see our courses adopting virtual classrooms,” explained Rachel Kirk, Executive Dean - Higher Education. “Staff have really impressed us with how they have adopted these new strategies and we are receiving exceptional feedback from learners to say they are really enjoying the online learning!”

We caught up with Rob Margetson, who is a lecturer for the Access to Higher Education Counselling course, one of the most challenging subjects to teach online.

Students all come on Microsoft Teams in the morning and we ask them how they are feeling and at the end of the day we’d do a check-out, the same as we would do in class,” Rob said. “For lessons and putting up videos and how to complete assignments, this works wonderfully.

If you’ve got any disabilities it makes it easy, plus students can fit the work and study around their own time that they have available. If they miss a lesson in the morning they can still participate in the evening. It gives them more control. I do a video of lessons and students can access that video on Microsoft Teams and on Moodle. I did three videos explaining theories and it’s especially good for that.”

One of the benefits, Rob explains, is how students can benefit from ‘one-to-one video calls anytime in the day’ in addition to the virtual classes.

The hardest thing for us in counselling is to do the assessments because we normally do that face-to-face but it’s all been working quite well. I did some observations on Friday and it worked really well.”

Robin Herne, a lecturer in Ethics and Religious Studies, added: “Students appear to love the narrated podcasts that I do with Camtasia and those are doing well in terms of virtual response. They can listen anytime, which is useful for mothers or those caring for others so they can listen while doing other things.”