Student Voice

Media Studies Students Reflect on Remote Learning

Remote learning media studies

By Student Voice

Introduction

The last few years have seen a dramatic shift in the way higher education operates, with remote learning becoming a new norm for students and staff alike. This change has been particularly felt by media studies students, who have had to adapt quickly to a new mode of learning from the quiet of their homes. As we look into the future of education, it's important to understand how this transition to remote learning has not just changed the logistics of obtaining a degree, but also how it has impacted the learning process, engagement, and student well-being. By starting with an overview of this shift, and considering student voices through surveys and text analysis, we set the foundation for a clear exploration of the benefits and challenges faced by media studies students in this new digital arena. This introduction aims to shed light on the importance of adapting teaching methods, enhancing student engagement, and ensuring the well-being of students as they navigate through this important process of remote learning. The perspective and feedback of media studies students will be invaluable as institutions look to refine and improve the digital learning experience.

Course Delivery and Engagement

When we turn our focus to the key area of course delivery and engagement within remote learning scenarios, it becomes apparent that media studies courses faced unique challenges and opportunities. The transition from traditional, face-to-face instruction to online platforms required both staff and students to rethink their engagement strategies. A notable shift was the increased reliance on virtual tools and environments to facilitate interactive learning processes. For media studies, a discipline deeply intertwined with digital mediums and content creation, the online setting offered new ways to look into course materials and engage with content. However, ensuring that this engagement remained high was imperative. Interactive methods, such as live discussions, practical online sessions, and the incorporation of hybrid learning models, became important in bridging the gap between remote learning and the hands-on experience typically associated with media studies. An equally important aspect was acknowledging student voice in this transition. By actively seeking and implementing student feedback, courses could be tailored more effectively to meet their needs, fostering a more involved and engaged learning community. Staff found that engagement wasn't just about live participation but also ensuring students felt heard and that their educational journey was a collaborative process.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Mental health and wellbeing have become increasingly important topics in the world of remote learning. For media studies students, the shift to studying from home has meant more than just adapting to new ways of learning; it has led to feelings of isolation and a sense of loss of community. These challenges have had a clear impact on students' mental wellbeing. Acknowledging this, universities have started to look into different types of support to help students navigate through these times. Staff have initiated virtual meet-ups, online wellness sessions, and dedicated support helplines to ensure students don't feel alone. Moreover, fostering a digital community has been key, with forums and social media groups allowing students to connect with peers facing similar challenges. It's important for institutions to continue enhancing these support systems, recognising the significance of mental health in the overall learning process. Creating a quiet, supportive digital environment is as important as the academic content itself. By focusing on mental health and wellbeing, universities can help media studies students maintain their motivation and continue engaging with their courses in a healthy and productive manner. This approach underlines the understanding that academic success is deeply intertwined with mental wellbeing.

Strikes and Communication

In examining how strikes and communication challenges between staff and media studies students have influenced the remote learning experience, it's clear that these issues have introduced certain delays and hindered timely communication. Strikes, in particular, while an important aspect of staff expressing concerns and demands, have inevitably impacted the normal flow of the academic process. During such periods, students found themselves waiting longer for feedback, experiencing delays in receiving lecture materials, and facing uncertainties regarding course scheduling. This aspect of remote learning highlighted the key role that effective and open communication plays in maintaining a smooth learning process. Institutions and staff worked to address these challenges by setting up more structured communication channels, such as regular email updates, scheduled virtual office hours, and updated FAQs on university websites. These measures aimed to ensure that even in times of disruption, students could have a clear understanding of what to expect and how to proceed with their studies. For media studies students, who often rely on timely feedback and clear guidelines to progress with their projects and assignments, ensuring continuity in communication was important. The experience brought to light the need for developing robust systems that can support student-staff communication effectively, especially in scenarios disrupted by strikes or other unforeseen circumstances. This part of the remote learning experience underscored the need for adaptability and continuous dialogue to overcome challenges and ensure that the educational journey remains on track despite external disruptions.

Course Specific Issues

A look at media studies courses during remote learning reveals several key challenges, especially in areas requiring hands-on experience. For instance, courses involving online branding and technical classes presented unique hurdles. The hands-on nature of media production – think video editing or sound design – didn't translate easily to a remote environment. Students missed out on the physical experience of manipulating equipment and learning through direct interaction with their projects. Additionally, the shift to remote learning meant students often needed individual digital subscriptions for software essential for their courses, adding financial pressure and complicating the learning process. This situation prompted staff to find innovative solutions, like negotiating academic licenses for software or using cloud-based platforms that allow remote access to necessary tools. Yet, the need for a more interactive, hands-on approach remained important, highlighting the gaps that purely online teaching can leave in practical subjects like media studies. Staff worked tirelessly to adapt course materials and find alternatives that could emulate the hands-on experience as closely as possible. Despite these efforts, the transition illustrated the clear and unique challenges faced by courses dependent on direct, practical engagement, driving home the importance of adaptability and creative problem-solving in navigating the nuances of remote learning for media studies.

Flexibility and Accessibility

The shift towards remote learning has brought to light the importance of flexibility and accessibility in higher education, particularly for media studies students who often juggle part-time jobs, full-time employment, or family commitments alongside their studies. The ability to access lectures, resources, and discussions online at any time has been a game-changer for many, providing an opportunity for a more inclusive learning environment. Students are now able to review lecture materials at their own pace, partake in discussions in a way that fits their schedule, and access a wide range of resources without the need to be physically present on campus. This level of accessibility has opened doors for those who previously might have found it challenging to commit to higher education due to time constraints or personal responsibilities. For staff, this means thinking creatively about how to deliver content and engage with students in this digital era. Incorporating clear online discussions and making sure resources are readily available can significantly enhance the learning experience. It’s about ensuring that all students, regardless of their personal circumstances, have the opportunity to engage fully with their studies. Accessibility and flexibility in remote learning are not just about convenience; they are about moving towards a more inclusive and equitable education system where every student has the chance to succeed.

Assessments and Guidelines

In the area of assessments and guidelines, the shift to remote learning presented both challenges and opportunities for media studies students and staff. Managing assessments online meant rethinking how assignments could be structured to meet learning objectives while being fair and accessible to all students. A key concern was the risk of outdated information and unclear objectives in assignment guidelines, which could leave students feeling lost and uncertain about how to proceed. To address this, staff actively sought feedback from students through surveys and regular communication. This feedback was incredibly important in identifying where adjustments were needed, allowing for guidelines to be updated and clarified. Another key aspect was ensuring that the objectives of assignments were reachable within the remote learning context. This meant looking into alternative ways to assess students that didn't rely heavily on traditional exams or in-person presentations, which could disadvantage those facing technical issues or lacking access to quiet spaces. Instead, creative projects, open-book assessments, and reflective journals became more common, offering students various ways to demonstrate their understanding and skills. This shift also emphasised the importance of clear communication between staff and students, ensuring everyone was on the same page regarding what was expected in assessments. By focusing on adaptability and clear guidelines, the process of managing assessments online aimed to be as smooth as possible for media studies students navigating their education remotely.

Equipment and Resources

One of the most important challenges media studies students faced during their remote learning process was accessing the right equipment and resources. With courses often requiring specialised hardware and software for projects, students found it difficult to replicate the resources available on campus from their homes. Poor internet connectivity became a regular barrier, complicating live streaming of lectures and rendering online collaboration platforms less effective. Recognising this, staff and institutions began to look into strategies to support students in this area. Some initiatives included providing loans of cameras, microphones, and other essential equipment. Universities also negotiated with software providers to offer free or discounted access to necessary digital tools, ensuring students could continue with their projects without financial strain. Another key move was enhancing online libraries and resources, making a large range of materials accessible to ensure students could research and complete their assignments effectively. Involving student voice in these decisions was important, as feedback directly influenced the kinds of support provided, tailoring assistance to actual needs rather than perceived ones. The focus wasn't just on making do with what was available but actively seeking to bridge the gap between remote and in-person resources, highlighting the collective effort required to maintain educational quality through unforeseen challenges.

University Experience

The introduction of remote learning has significantly changed the traditional university experience for media studies students, particularly in areas of social interaction and community building. The process of making friends and engaging in in-person sessions, which form an important part of university life, has been transformed into a digital endeavour. Students and staff have had to find new ways to foster this sense of community through online platforms. Initiatives like virtual societies, online discussion groups, and digital project collaborations have become spaces where students can connect, share ideas, and support each other. Despite these efforts, the digital medium presents clear challenges in replicating the spontaneous and organic interactions that occur in a physical campus environment. The importance of building a community has never been more important, as it is closely linked with student engagement and overall satisfaction with their learning process. Staff have played an important role in this transition by organising online events, guest lectures, and informal 'coffee chats' to stimulate interaction and engagement beyond the academic content. While the digital platforms offer a new avenue for connection, the experience has highlighted the important balance between online and in-person interactions in shaping the comprehensive university experience for media studies students. The emphasis on community within the digital learning environment underscores the ongoing need to innovate and adapt engagement strategies to preserve the core aspects of university life that students value.

Disorganisation and Delays

One of the more important impediments to a smooth remote learning process for media studies students has been navigating through disorganised course websites and dealing with delayed academic responses. The rapid transition to online learning necessitated by global events led to an understandably hurried assembly of digital learning environments. However, this often resulted in course materials scattered across different platforms, making it challenging for students to find what they needed quickly. The importance of a well-organised online space became clear as students spent valuable time searching for readings, assignment briefs, and lecture recordings. This disorganisation was compounded by delays in academic responses. Whether due to the high volume of emails staff received or the complexities of coordinating work from home, students frequently found themselves waiting longer than anticipated for feedback on their work or answers to urgent queries. This situation highlighted the key role that clear, timely communication and well-structured digital environments play in enabling students to engage effectively with their studies. Staff began to recognise the necessity of dedicating time to organise online materials in a more logical, accessible manner and to establish more efficient systems for responding to student communications. The process of refining these aspects of remote learning is ongoing, with the aim of minimising disorganisation and delays to support students in navigating their courses with confidence.

Wi-Fi Problems

One of the most clear barriers to effective remote learning for media studies students has been reliable Wi-Fi access. It's no secret that smooth and uninterrupted internet connectivity is key to participating in online lectures, accessing course materials, and collaborating with peers on projects. However, not all students have access to strong Wi-Fi connections at home, leading to significant disruptions in their learning process. This issue has forced both students and staff to look into creative solutions to mitigate the impact of poor connectivity. Some students have had to frequent quiet public spaces with free internet access to attend lectures or complete assignments. On the institution's side, efforts have been made to provide support in the form of portable Wi-Fi devices or subsidies for improved home internet plans. Furthermore, staff have adapted by ensuring that lectures and materials can be accessed offline whenever possible, allowing students to download them during periods of better connectivity. This kind of flexibility has been important in helping students stay on track with their studies, despite the challenges posed by Wi-Fi problems. The initiative to address these connectivity issues head-on highlights the collaborative effort required to navigate the complexities of remote learning and ensure that every student can access the education they deserve.

Conclusion

In summarising the exploration of media studies students' perspectives on remote learning, it's evident that this process has ushered in a series of learning curves, both for students and staff. The insights gained underscore the importance of adaptability, accessibility, and the critical role of communication in the digital teaching arena. Students have demonstrated remarkable resilience in adapting to new modes of learning, despite facing challenges such as access to resources, mental wellbeing, and creating a sense of community online. Staff, on their part, have been pivotal in reshaping course delivery to meet the needs of their students, emphasising the need for innovative solutions to foster engagement and ensure educational goals are met.

As we look forward, the lessons learned from this process offer valuable directions for the future of higher education. Emphasising the significance of a collective approach to problem-solving and the continued importance of seeking student feedback will be key to refining remote learning. The transition to online education has not only changed the logistics of teaching and learning but has also highlighted the possibilities for creating a more inclusive and adaptable higher education system. While remote learning presented clear challenges, it also opened opportunities for enhancing the flexibility and accessibility of education, making it imperative for institutions to continue exploring these avenues.

Embracing the changes and challenges brought about by remote learning has led to a richer understanding of what it means to provide education in the digital age. As we move forward, the experiences of media studies students and staff will serve as an important guide in navigating the evolving landscape of higher education, ensuring that the process of learning remains dynamic, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of all students.

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