The University plans to provide additional teaching and learning support resources for students and staff in the next academic year due to COVID-19. A group of student interns are contributing to this work through internships in the Centre for Teaching and Learning. We met the interns to find out about their projects, and about the plans for Michaelmas term.
What are you working on to help new and returning students next year?
In Team 1, one of our main projects is to ensure that students can give feedback to steer the University’s teaching strategies. We’ll be analysing the use of university-wide surveys, exploring the creators’ strategies for outreach, and considering alternative strategies which could encourage students to give crucial feedback.
Team 2 will produce a series of podcasts to introduce transitioning students—those joining the University or progressing to further study at Oxford—to different aspects of the Oxford academic experience. Speaking to a diverse selection of interviewees, and representing different academic experiences, we hope to offer guidance and reassurance for the next term and beyond.
We will also be reviewing the University’s current service for digitising real life objects and suggesting how learners might be able to handle and explore objects remotely. Social distancing restrictions mean that access to spaces such as museum collections and labs may be reduced next year: in light of this, we are suggesting new ways in which learners can handle and explore objects remotely.
How are you working with staff on the teaching programme?
One of our projects is to produce guidance videos for staff, which will give information about flexible and inclusive teaching. The videos will emphasise students’ perspectives and address some of the key concerns mentioned in the Trinity Term Teaching and Assessment Survey. Right now, we are looking at existing videos in the public domain to learn how we can structure them well.
What motivated you to help with the University’s plans for next term?
“The position appealed to me for many reasons, with perhaps the most important reason being the desire to help with the improvement of virtual learning for students in Michaelmas 2020. As a recent Masters graduate who took virtual classes and consultation sessions during the pandemic, I have seen first-hand the successes and difficulties that come from remote teaching, and was keen to contribute to the University's efforts towards improving it. I also wanted to give back to the university as I feel it has given so much to me – I applied to Oxford coming from a state school background, and was one of two students from my school to go to Oxbridge in several years.” (Mike Fuller, Mathematics, Pembroke)
What are some benefits of the internship?
“One of the benefits of remote work is that you get to decide your time much more, and where and when to work, which is quite similar to what it is like to do an Oxford degree. That independence and freedom can feel like such a luxury compared to previous, hourly jobs that I’ve had, which were entirely in-person.” (Louis Torracinta, Human Sciences, Wadham)
“I’ve found that we’ve clicked as a team. We span academic disciplines, and range from undergraduates to DPhil candidates, and we benefit from each other’s opinions. I have also enjoyed seeing the learning experience from a staff perspective: it can be very easy to criticise the teaching experience from a student standpoint, like VLEs such as Weblearn or Canvas, but the rationale for decisions is perceptive and evidence-based. Whilst we are student interns, we are treated like staff, and are granted access to these thought processes.” (Freddie Gent, English Language and Literature, LMH)
Have there been any challenges?
“The biggest challenge for me about the remote internship has been adapting to use different types of technology, especially considering how tech focused the discussion of remote learning is. As someone who liked to work in person and on paper, I’ve found shifting to a more digital format a real challenge.” (Rhiannon Ogden-Jones, Law, Corpus Christi)
Besides work, what have you been up to?
“I’m part of a few University committees and am working on Fresher’s week for my college MCR. I am also the Head of Communications for the graduate student organization, Science Innovation Union, and I’m marketing an event on health policy related to COVID-19. One of the most fortunate discoveries I made during lockdown is that I can actually jog (didn’t know my body could do that before”), and I find that extremely relaxing.” (Kalina Naidoo, DPhil Psychiatry, St Catz)
“Outside of work, I have a few productive hobbies other than watching Netflix. During the pandemic, I have learned to cook and am now enjoying experimenting with new dishes from time to time (I have realised it is a really great skill to have as a student). I also enjoy playing the flute and have recently been playing songs from the Phantom of the Opera.” (Angela Liu, Biomedical Sciences, St Hilda’s)