Life was very different when all of a sudden lockdown started in March as travel to India (my home country) was due to be banned within two days. I decided to stay in Bath independently as me and my family were a bit concerned for me to travel from the UK to India.
The learning transition has been new and challenging for both the department and students. There are various things which I will discuss in terms of learning transition moving from offline to online learning.
I always tried to stick to my routine of getting up on time and making my bed as soon as I wake up so that I don't go back to sleep again.
I would get ready and head out for my one walk allowed at the time. After coming back, I would get ready and prepare myself breakfast and then sit down for my morning lectures at 9:15. I generally had morning lectures at 9:15 and had a mix of lectures and lab sessions for 4 to 5 hours per day for 3 to 4 days a week. My course had all coursework and no examinations in semester 2. The coursework deadlines were approaching at the start of April and I had very few classes left.
Online to offline structure
All the classes and lab sessions were held online. The university provided us with Microsoft Teams access for both the classroom lectures and also lab sessions. I also had access to recordings of the lectures through Panopto.
The professors had different preferred ways of teaching. All of my Professors preferred handing out pre-recorded lectures a day before the actual lecture. They gave us the actual lecture time to ask any questions. This structure helped me a lot as I could study according to my feasibility and also pause the video to make notes easily. I could even cut down on the travel time and also seek more help from other resources as well. I could get enough time, as a lecture used to be generally of 50 minutes, in order to ask questions and also could listen to my cohorts' questions too.
This turned out to be a win-win situation for everyone. This type of teaching has made me more self-reliant and has taught me the importance of self-study. This teaching has given me more free time to explore other things as I could cut down on travel time, waiting for bus, waiting for classes to start etc. With so many pros, it did also have some cons with some initial technical problems in running lab sessions, as those required a specific allocation and the code could not be shared in the live meeting.
Our tutors overcame this giving us time allocated for private meetings and helping us out where we were stuck. The department would always try to support us by the best means they can. Since I am also the Academic Representative for the MSc Data Science course, and I work closely with the department to represent my cohorts, I have always recieved positive turnarounds for any complicated issues raised.
Support offered online by the Department and University
There were various types of support offered by my department. Some of my cohorts struggled initially as they were finding it more difficult to study through pre-recorded lectures. Some of the Professors then started delivering live lectures during the scheduled lecture time. We could even request extensions for our work as many of my cohorts were struggling to focus on their studies.
We had remote access available if we need it, as the codes in data science require a good processor for execution. The Director of Studies was easily approachable along with personal tutors if we wanted to talk about anything.
Benefits and positives online teaching has given me
Online teaching has taught me the power of ownership and responsibility while at the same time making me more self-dependent. It has not only helped me to focus more on my studies but also gave me more time to enjoy and cherish beautiful Bath. I had never had the time to explore Bath as such before as I could do now. It taught me that self-love and self-care hold more priority than anything else. I have learned to be more disciplined to keep on track with my coursework and my degree instead of becoming lazy or feeling upset because of the pandemic. It's not only just the university but also the support of my family and friends which helped me through this tough time.