STAFF and students at a leading college which prides itself on innovation are paving the way with on-line learning as they tackle the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 health crisis.
All curriculum areas, from construction to performing arts, English to maths, are tapping into technology to continue their studies through the internet.
Staff are in constant touch with each other through a WhatsApp group helping to shape the curriculum for thousands of full and part-time students.
Students have responded in kind with on-line attendance figures reaching 100 percent in many areas.
Darlington College principal Kate Roe said: “These are challenging times for everyone and the way staff and students have responded comes as absolutely no surprise to me – it’s just another example of the innovative thinking that goes on in college and proof of how engaged our students always are. They really are amazing.”
Business, Digital, Travel and Tourism, Professional Qualifications and Initial Teacher Education Curriculum Manager Samantha Eason added: “Students have engaged fantastically well after the college moved to an on-line platform as a result of Covid-19.
“Young people have embraced the Google on-line learning platforms and been on time and prepared for learning either through Meet, Chat or via Classroom. Lecturers have adapted brilliantly to the new technology that, for some, had never been used until a week ago. Sessions have been restructured, rewritten for different methods of delivery and lecturers have had to get used to working from home.”
Lecturers have reported excellent levels of engagement from all levels of students whose on-line sessions can last up to three hours, with some subjects reporting better attendance than normal.
The English and maths teams have worked with more than 300 students in the first week to stretch and challenge them to achieve their very best work which will be submitted instead of their GCSE exams.
Back-to-back on-line tutorials have been well attended with students logging on for discussions.
Lecturers have reported being inundated with emails from students with completed work and questions.
Apprentices have been working all morning then re-tuning in after lunch to present their work. Lecturers are videoing the sessions to upload as proof of assessments being done.
Placement students are reporting back on how their businesses are coping with the coronavirus crisis highlighting that many are encouraging their staff to volunteer to support the NHS.
The college has recorded statistical engagement over the past week including 404 Google Meets (up 1,683 per cent), 67 new on-line classrooms (up 26 per cent), more than 500 classroom posts (up 42 per cent) and 8,272 files added to drive and classroom technology.
Ms Roe added: “Students and staff at Darlington College have responded brilliantly well to unprecedented conditions and I’m positive will continue to do so until the crisis is over. Just one week in, we have all learned a huge amount about the capabilities of our community and state-of-the-art facilities to the point where future learning will never be the same – it will be better.”
For more information about opportunities at Darlington College visit www.darlington.ac.uk.