Students continue their studies via virtual learning that replicates the classroom environment

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Virtual learning platform allows students to interact with tutors and classmates and take part in group work during COVID-19.

Wednesday 22 April 2020


Degree students in East London are completing their courses in virtual classrooms as they continue to study and achieve during the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 2,200 students at CU London, which has campuses in Dagenham and Greenwich, are using technology to continue their studies as normal.

A virtual learning platform allows students to do everything from receiving face to face lessons where they can not only interact with tutors, but also their classmates, to taking part in group work.

Jonathan Sandling, Head of Academic Studies at CU London – part of the Coventry University Group – said that everything has been accommodated online to ensure students can continue their learning.

We have been really focused on interaction as we didn’t want our students’ learning experience to suddenly switch to an over-reliance on distance learning.

Our aim has been to replicate the classroom environment online, giving students the opportunity to not only interact with tutors but also each other and still be able to facilitate activities such as group work.

The technology we are using allows tutors to deliver content, split students up for group activities and then bring everyone back together for feedback. Students can continue to give presentations, take tests and submit assessments as they would normally.

The online learning area also gives tutors the opportunity to deliver one to one support and provides areas where students can interact with each other outside of the virtual classroom – we haven’t had anything that we can’t accommodate online. As well as the video facilities, tutors continue to be available through email, a virtual chat platform and over the phone.

Our timetables have remained the same, however we are also being flexible in our approach as we understand that some students may now have more complex responsibilities and commitments.

We have seen a huge amount of student engagement and have received a considerable amount of positive feedback. It has been fantastic that we have been able to maintain a high-quality learning experience while following the government guidelines.

Jonathan Sandling, Head of Academic Studies at CU London

CU London health and social care student Gabriella Nwosa said that the online learning platform has not only enabled her to continue her studies, but also develop new skills.

She said: “The thought of a virtual classroom experience initially made me quite anxious, but my tutor is very engaging and has simplified the use of the technology and how to access documents, activities and other resources. I now feel I have the chance to enhance my IT skills in a way I never imagined.”

Staff have also said that moving online has seen them using innovative teaching methods.

Claire Bacon, policing tutor at CU London, added: “My students have embraced online teaching and have enjoyed the discussions and debates. They have managed to attend sessions and have juggled trying to sort out children, parents and siblings who have occasionally appeared in the background. It has been very interesting.”