It is often said that crises drive innovation. At North Notts College (part of the RNN Group) innovations in teaching and learning, utilising G Suite for Education, have been accelerated as tutors and students have become accustomed to lessons involving online classrooms, green screens, webcams and graphic tablets as part of the new normal of a blend of face-to-face and online learning.
Social distancing measures have meant that the return to teaching in September has been very different from pre-COVID. Limits on the number of students permitted in classrooms have meant that all tutors and students at the College have adapted to online learning sessions. While students have enjoyed greater flexibility of when and how they access theory-based learning, tutors have had to adapt to creating content for learners to consume online.
North Notts College Computing Tutor Paul Smith has not only been delivering sessions online but has helped the Group identify the equipment tutors require to create engaging online content in the College’s new Emerald Filming Zone.
Paul said: “It’s been a different way of teaching as we’ve moved some of our lessons to online delivery. The approach I’ve taken is to cover the basics in my online sessions and go into greater depth in our face-to-face sessions. It means that the time that we get with students is more valuable to them; we can focus on the more practical skills and I can provide help and support when they encounter any tricky patches.”
Paul’s colleagues in the Computing department Joshua Johnson and Richard Gent have made use of the filming zone to create content for online sessions delivered through Google Classroom.
Richard said: “Having access to good quality equipment makes a real difference – tools such as the graphic tablet mean that I can show the working out to problems and draw diagrams to illustrate key points – just like I would in a classroom.”
Joshua adds: “Our learners are so used to content being available on-demand through YouTube and other platforms that they expect their online learning to be immersive and engaging. Having a green screen, a good quality webcam and a decent spec’ microphone helps us keep our learners, who have adapted brilliantly to online learning, engaged.”
RNN Group’s Head of Quality and Learning Experience Rebecca Blackburn chairs the organisation’s Digital Strategy Group.
Rebecca said: “Moving to a blended teaching model has not been without its challenges. But, our ambition is to equip all students and staff with the digital knowledge, skills and confidence to be successful in a digital world.
“The ongoing situation has accelerated our progress in terms of our online and blended learning output. However, we are fortunate that our commitment to enhancing digital skills has meant we had a clear strategy in place. Our continued partnership with C-Learning has meant that staff and students have access to fantastic tools from G Suite for Education, which have been vital in ensuring an immersive and engaging learning experience.”
See ‘behind the scenes’ in our Emerald Filming Zone: