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UK Pathway Centres learn quickly

INTO Manchester has had to adapt, Sandra Fraser tells the Gazette

How has INTO Manchester adapted to online teaching and learning?

We had to adapt quickly! The centre closed down for a week before Easter and we used this time to prepare for the sudden, unplanned transition to online delivery.

We had to make a paradigm shift in our practice, with very experienced teachers having to re-learn, re-think and re-evaluate their delivery. We all became online learners ourselves and faced a very steep learning curve, taking part in online webinars, and training courses and bespoke training on Bongolearn, the virtual classroom that INTO had selected for use.

Programme teams then worked together to engage in peer teaching practice to consolidate the initial training. This allowed teachers to gain experience and confidence in setting up lessons, using the different tools, and troubleshooting any issues. It also gave us the opportunity to experience it from a student’s perspective and use that to inform our delivery.

What’s worked well for you in terms of engaging students?

Training for students is critical. Online learning was just as new and unexpected for them as it was for staff. We held induction tutorials where the new expectations of online learning were outlined and the features of the virtual classroom were introduced. Tutorials continued throughout the term.

Making sure that students get the same opportunities to work together online as they do in the physical classroom is important and the break-out rooms on Bongolearn facilitate this. Student feedback on this is very positive, as is the use of Microsoft Teams for face-to-face sessions.

How are you managing formal assessment in an online environment?

We reassured students that the skills being assessed were those that they had been developing during their studies. When the format of the online exam was explained, students were able to identify how it related to their coursework.

Teachers also prepared materials following the new format so students could practise the integrated assessment and check they understood all task requirements. Recording presentations and being able to submit securely was key, so we decided on Bongolearn. However, students had had no experience of presenting online, so tutorial support for this was given.

How will online lessons feature in future teaching at INTO Manchester?

Both students and staff prefer being face-to- face, but given the present situation, where this is not possible, we will use the experience gained over the past few months to develop our online delivery for the next academic year.

A hybrid of face-to-face and online delivery is planned, with both synchronous and asynchronous sessions offered. Online delivery offers a range of opportunities too, more blended and flipped learning and greater autonomy for students, which will prepare them further for future academic study.

Images courtesy of Library and NCUK
Sandra Fraser
Sandra Fraser
Sandra is Higher Education and Projects Manager at INTO Manchester, an accredited Study Centre of NCUK, who have a global network of more than 75 Study Centres in over 30 countries. Sandra has worked on NCUK qualifications since 2005 and at INTO Manchester since its inception in 2008.
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