Although things are beginning to get back to normal, we have to consider and respect the fact that the Covid pandemic is ongoing, and there are likely to be restrictions in place that might impact daily life and your university experience. In order to protect the core learning on your degree programme, and to ensure that those classes, labs and practical activities can happen safely on campus and in person, we will be keeping our Change Makers learning online this year. This helps to free up classrooms and pressure on campus to allow your other classes to take place as safely as possible.
We don’t know what is going to happen with regards to the pandemic. Restrictions might change in the UK, or in your home countries. Things may well become more difficult as winter approaches.
So we want to be as flexible as possible to cope with any eventuality, with the minimum disruption to your learning. We learned a lot from our classes last year, where we had some really great experiences. We will be deploying all that learning to make our classes this year even more special.
The Change Makers team have worked really hard to come up with a plan that provides you with the most flexible, engaging and rewarding learning experience for your Change Makers module. We want to make our classes accessible to every student – no matter what time zone or country you find yourself in, no matter what restrictions might be in place.
And so we have gone through a pretty radical reconceptualisation of what a class should be, how it should work, and what we should expect of you as students.
It might sound a little complicated to begin with, but actually, it makes a lot of sense once you get used to the idea.
Instead of thinking of your Change Makers class as being one two hour block of learning, from 4-6pm on a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday evening, think about having a ‘learning week’. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend more time studying, instead it means that you might be able to complete your learning between 4-6pm on the usual day, or it might mean that you will benefit from splitting your learning up to different times throughout the week.
The learning week
Your Change Makers learning week begins at 4pm (UK time) on the day of your timetabled class, and ends at 4pm the following week, the day before your next class. This gives you as much time as possible to complete your learning activities, but also gives your teachers a one day window to review your progress before the next week commences.
The learning week is made up of three different activities.
- Check In
- Class Activity
- Interchange Reflective Activity
Scroll through the images below to see what your learning week will look like.
Every student in the class must complete the Check In within 24 hours of the class commencing.
So if you are:
- a second year student, you must complete your Check In between 4pm (UK time) on the Monday of your class and 4pm (UK time) on Tuesday
- a third/fourth year student, you must complete your Check In between 4pm (UK time) and 4pm (UK time) on Friday
- a first year student, you must complete your Check In between 4pm (UK time) on the Tuesday of your class and 4pm (UK time) on Wednesday.
The Check In is a question that you must post an answer to in our virtual classroom. You will be notified that the question has been posted and is available to answer, and you must post your answer.
Answering your Check In question is the equivalent to attendance monitoring – you must therefore answer at least 75% of the questions during the module to be eligible to pass the module. The answer is not marked – we are not judging the quality or nature of your answer, merely the fact that you have provided an answer.
We will use the answers as a basis to understand your progress during the module, and we will discuss interesting points raised in the following class.
Thinking about and answering the question will contribute greatly to your learning in the module, although it will not be directly related to the key learning activity for each week.
The Check In will take no longer than a few minutes to complete and will require you to think about the activities from class and then respond to the question. You will also be able to see the responses of other students, and will be able to comment and discuss each other’s answers in a supportive and encouraging way.
If you do not complete your Check In question, we will be very worried about you. You will receive an email asking if you are safe and well, and asking why you have not completed the Check In.
We care about every single student taking our modules, and we will follow up with you. The Check In is very important to us, so please take the time to complete it as thoughtfully as you can.
The Check In can be completed individually, and at any time during the 24 hours that is convenient for you. Therefore, if you are in a different time zone and it is not possible to attend the scheduled class at 4pm (UK time), you should go to the virtual classroom, watch the briefing video, check out the class details and summary and complete the Check In as soon as you can during that 24 hour period.
The class activity will be introduced in the briefing video, discussed live during the scheduled class time and then completed at any time during the learning week. There will be ample time during the scheduled class time to complete the task, or it can be completed later.
The class activity must be completed by 4pm on the day before the next class.
The live discussion of the activity will be documented in class notes available in the virtual classroom, so that if any student is not able to attend the scheduled class due to time zone issues, they can still benefit from the content of that discussion.
Most of the class activities will need to be completed in teams, and we make no apology for the fact that this will be challenging.
One of the key values and missions of a Change Maker module is to prepare you to work in the real world, with real people, with real challenges and difficulties. In our face to face sessions, this might have been working in a hot stuffy classroom with inadequate furniture, or overcoming difficulties with your competing deadlines.
In this new world of online working and a global pandemic, we are all having to struggle with the issues associated with working with our team mates online. Often we are not all free at the same time, or we find ourselves in different countries, time zones or with different sets of competing tasks. And working through these difficulties is important, but challenging.
And so we will be asking you to also work through these difficulties with us in our modules. We will be there to support you every step of the way, but these are real world challenges that you will continue to face in other settings. So let’s use our time together to strategise and build resilience to these challenges.
So. You might find yourself working in a team with students that cannot attend the live class. You might find yourself working with students who have conflicting schedules or priorities. These are all issues that we need to work around, together.
Your class activity can therefore be completed at any time during the week. To offer more classroom support, there are a number of additional plans that we have put in place for you.
Firstly, remember that our virtual classroom is open 24/7. You can go and work in the classroom, ask questions in the classroom and chat with your colleagues in the classroom – at any time. We will be notified if you message us in the classroom, and although we will not be able to answer instantly, we will answer all messages within 24 hours.
Secondly, we have weekly Mix and Match hours, when the teaching staff will be present in the classroom, and available to review work, answer questions live and in person, and video chat. These additional hours have been scheduled for 8am (UK time).
We have chosen this time as it is outside of your main timetable, and therefore equally accessible to all students. Last year we found that students came along to have breakfast together online, ask questions, get feedback, or just chat about life in general. The Zoom links for these extra hours will be posted in the Change Makers Common Room – and we will always let you know which days your teacher will be available. However, you are always welcome to come along and meet up with a different teacher – they will still be happy to meet you and help you with your work.
On Wednesdays, the 8am session will be a bit different. Called the Wednesday Workout, the session will be open to students from all modules and years and will be set up to allow students to spend time discussing different themes or issues that might help with your learning. Themes will include – team working, conflict management, coping with stress, study strategies, equality and diversity and imposter syndrome. You will also be able to suggest other themes that we will gladly host. Elizabeth will begin the discussion and introduce the idea, and then you will be free to discuss further in small groups or just continue chatting with Elizabeth. Elizabeth will also be available to book short 1:1 discussions about any learning, wellbeing or study issues that you might be facing. These can be arranged at any time that is mutually convenient.
This means that there will be lots of additional support available to you during your learning week.
You do not have to attend these additional hours, but they are a way to provide additional interaction for those that have missed the scheduled class interactions, or for teams that are choosing to work at a different time to accommodate their team members’ locations.
You are also free to arrange additional 10 minute meetings with your teachers at any time, subject to their availability.
Interchange Reflective Activity
The final part of the learning week involves completing a reflective activity. This involves answering a further question (a bit like the Check In question) in the Change Makers Common Room. The idea is that you find someone from another Change Makers module, discuss the question with them, and then post your answer in the Interchange.
We trialled this in a number of formats last year, and the students that took part really found this incredibly useful. The real benefit is to ‘compare notes’ on your experience of your module with someone from another module. As our modules share the same principles of design and intention, you will find that you will have a lot in common with other students from different modules.
The Interchange Reflective Activity is not mandatory, but the more you participate, the more you will gain.
There will be spot prizes and rewards for great contributions in the Interchange.