How do students feel about moving to virtual classrooms?

On Friday 20th March 2020, following government guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic, FI closed its centres across the network to our staff and our learners.  From that point, our classes moved from the physical classroom to virtual classrooms.

In late May 2020 we surveyed those learners who had traditionally studied in centre and had then moved to the virtual classroom to find out how they had found the transition.

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How do students feel about moving to virtual classrooms?

On Friday 20th March 2020, following government guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic, FI closed its centres across the network to our staff and our learners.  From that point, our classes moved from the physical classroom to virtual classrooms.

In late May 2020 we surveyed those learners who had traditionally studied in centre and had then moved to the virtual classroom to find out how they had found the transition.

The results of our virtual classrooms survey

We had a great response to our survey.  Some students were studying as apprentices and others as examination only learners. We have students who are sponsored by their employers and others were funding their training themselves.

92% of our respondents felt fully informed about the change from a First Intuition centre to our virtual classroom. Feedback we received included:

“It’s nice feeling that someone’s in control of the situation.”

90% felt that the level of interaction was good or above.  As part of the change we built in more polls and online quizzes designed to replicate the engagement that learners would be used to in our centres.

“First online session I have attended and found it excellent. Highly recommend!!”

Some of our learners reported that it was easier to be involved with class discussions as you could do so anonymously rather than speaking up in class.

“Very supportive and efficient service, FI really goes the extra mile!”

Indeed 90% felt that they were able to communicate with the tutor during classes using chat boxes or raising their virtual hands to ask questions.

The challenge of transitioning to virtual classes

Robust technology and reliable broadband were initially a challenge for many organisations moving to online meeting solutions. Schools, offices and even Joe Wicks’ PE lessons were competing for core hours. Our sessions are delivered through Adobe who increased their capacity over the early weeks.

Having colleagues on standby to support with IT issues and to communicate with learners using other platforms meant that we were able to continue to deliver during this time.

The professional qualifications that we deliver were also experiencing rapid changes in this period leading to cancelled exam sessions.

For FI this meant the need to create bridging programmes to support our learners who had commenced their studies for a June exam that is now deferred to September 2020.

Our learners are attending additional webinars and submitting work for marking to keep their knowledge and technique fresh for the revision courses later this year.

As we move into the next phase

It is important to FI that our learners are supported. Consequently 97% of our respondents felt that they were fully supported and knew who they could approach for assistance.

Our learners reported challenges with their physical workspace and home distractions. However, the flexibility to view recordings of our live sessions gives more opportunity to schedule study time around working remotely.

Thank you to our students, clients and staff for continuing to support our learners through their professional qualifications.

Finally, what happens next?

As we continue to deliver our programmes virtually, we are building in more opportunities for interaction.  Quizzes, polls and collaborative brainstorms will form part of our delivery together with short, regular screen breaks.

We are also following up on the mock results and level of interaction of our learners – FI’s very own track and trace system!

Finally, later this year we are launching our new learning platform.  This comes with increased functionality for online studying.

Find out more about how FI has navigated change in response to the public health crisis

Read what to expect from a virtual classroom

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