Student engagement with Teams
Nick Bohannon – Principal Lecturer, School of Nursing
Over several years, attempts have been made to improve the connection and communication between students and tutors in the School. Progress has been made in the classroom, but the shared learning seemed to end when the session ended. Further reading and discussion board questions were set, and Facebook was used to try to influence the outcome of classroom learning. However, despite these attempts, it seemed to have little effect.
It was recognised that a way was needed to help students to develop a better understanding of how to manage their digital presence (both personal and professional) without it being a burden on them. As a result of the introduction of Microsoft Teams on the 365 suite and Chris Melia’s (TELT) investigation of its potential, we’ve now been able to make considerable steps forward in student communication and engagement.
After some initial trials with undergraduate groups, a trial was undertaken with a post graduate group of 25 students. These students were from 7 different countries and had all arrived with different first degrees, and hence different academic backgrounds. A few of the students lived in the Preston area, but most of them had to travel, with some travelling for 1.5 hours each way to get to university.
Staff have been very impressed of the uptake of Teams by this group. There have been some 1,100 posts from 25 students in the first 3 months of their course, and 1000 ‘likes’ from student to student in the same time frame. There has been differences of opinion, fallings out, reconciliations, and wonderful examples of how a team of people can get together, and when they do, something wonderful happens. The students on the MSc really like Teams – understandable, given the equally positive response by staff. Responding to student queries often happens out of normal office hours, but using Teams means that it doesn’t feel like work: there’s no requirement to look at Teams, but the few minutes it can take to respond to postings can actually be pleasant.
As well as the MSc, there has been joint presentations with Chris Melia at several conferences – in-house and at the Association of Learning Technology annual conference. There has also been a recent opportunity to present at BETT 2019 with Chris and Andy, which was a huge blast and has raised motivation levels massively. Working with Teams has created an appreciation of how much is out there, and a desire to keep going on the digital journey!