Undergraduate students participate in virtual assessment during Covid lockdown

Big Blue Button conference call

CIDT staff last met face-to-face with third year students from the ‘Environmental Issues of the Developing World’ module on 16 March 2020. This module taught by CIDT is part of the Urban Geography and Climate Change degree offered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

In that final face to face session we discussed the ‘possibility’ of online teaching ‘in case’ we were to be ‘locked down’, something none of us really understood the meaning of at that stage.

By the end of that tumultuous week the whole University had been shut down. However, both CIDT staff and students decided to persevere. All students continued to attend weekly four-hour lectures online and 1:1 tutorials were also conducted virtually. CIDT staff were very impressed at how quickly this group of students adapted to virtual learning.

In late May, CIDT staff coordinated their first ever online group presentation student assessment! Under normal circumstances, students would make such presentations face to face with their tutors, but this year due to Covid19, the assessment had to be online via conferencing software Big Blue Button. This posed a challenge to both students and lecturers who, though well versed in distanced conferencing, were concerned that the challenge of conducting distanced, assessed presentations and marking would be too demanding for all concerned.

Nevertheless, the students rose to the challenge by working doubly hard. Through numerous group calls and effective team working they were able to produce effective presentations. This involved getting to grips with the conference technologies and also ensuring they had a strong wi-fi signal in their different locked-down home environments, ranging from the Midlands, London, Devon and even the south of France.

We at CIDT are happy and proud to report that both group presentations were well-conceived, very interesting and well presented, and that the four-hour Big Blue Button (BBB) conference took place without a hitch!

Big Blue Button conference call

Above: Screenshot of the Big Blue Button conference call between students and CIDT.

We would like to congratulate all eight students on the module for their dedication during such an unprecedented time and wish them success and good luck in their postgraduate endeavours.

One student commented:

“Please give my thanks to all the members of the CIDT team that contributed to the module, it was incredibly informative and really beneficial to have specialists in each field that could give examples and had personal knowledge of the taught curriculum. Hopefully one day I’ll come across them as I continue my professional career in the sector. The entire module was brilliantly organised and a pleasure to take part in and the passion of each of the contributors really came through and helped to inspire.”

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