School of Life Science induction week: Students’ experiences of induction to online learning in higher education
Case study authors: Dr Nawroz Kareem
School of Life Science, Faculty of Natural Sciences
CDF Framework: Technology Enhanced Learning
The first week of the academic year is a particularly critical time in the lives of first year UG students, with new starters facing a whole new world of academic and social interactions. The more we can do to help students integrate rapidly and successfully into their new environment, the better chance our students will have to settle in and go onto to succeed in their studies.
Induction week is important for students’ transition and engagement with their degree. It affects students retention and success through the establishment of friendship, social integration and sense of belonging to the university community; informing students with degree expectation, and available learning support and tools to build their confidence; to develop a connection with staff and school.
Aim: help students integrate rapidly and more successfully into their studies and student life
How? Build on existing good practice:
- Increase scheduled activities across the week to reduce students’ potential ‘down-time’
- Increased wellbeing activities
- Increased weekend activities: diverse range of social activities ↑ alcohol-based ↓
- Develop group-based project work in schools
- Increased scheduled time for schools
- Facilitates development of friendship groups
- Creative and inspirational program-specific activities
School of Life Sciences designed a hybrid induction week for 2020/21 academic year, over 379 students and more than 35 staff participated.
The induction week included three elements: first was campus-based programs talks, the second was online students group meetings with their tutors, the third was an online pub quiz organised by level 5 and 6 students.
Several digital tools were used, including Microsoft team, BlackBoard (KLE), Sway, flipgrid, genially, virtual simulation labs, random data generator on excel sheet, and 'How to' screencasts.
I think the project increased students and staff confident in transition to online learning. Using the same tools and platform that used to teach students gave student and staff to trial and use these mode of teaching and learning. Increase in the contact hours with the school was very important for students and staff, students were more connected with their peers and staff. Students feedback reflected their feeling during the week and clearly they felt welcomed by the school and Keele community.
In term of impact, I think this induction project demonstrated the possibility of achieving all the aims that I mentioned in the project brief in an online mode of delivery. It also showed the need of improving several aspects and considering the compatibility of the used online tools, and the simile design online academic sessions.
This project also affected the way that the school delivered teaching sessions and make students engaged with learning online.
The next step is reviewing the project will colleagues and students, and develop the existing induction project for the next academic year.
This project can be provided as examples to other disciplines, using similar design and strategies to enhance students’ transition and engagement with their degree.