What an incredible journey it has been! Since March 2020, Life Tools has moved completely online – at first, we wondered how we would manage to do this, but fortunately, with the help of colleagues, we have been able to deliver webinars, develop the Life Tools Blackboard site and promote the programme through the Universities digital channels.
One year on, we look back at our journey!
Since the pandemic started, we have successfully moved in-person webinars to 100% online, continuing to deliver the Life Tools programme throughout the pandemic. We have also developed the Life Tools Blackboard site, offering students easy access to webinars, recordings, podcasts, worksheets, handouts and links to the Life Tools blog. Through this blackboard, we have been able to send a weekly email to students that have enrolled, keeping them up to date and letting them know when webinars are planned for the following week. Students have commented that they find the weekly email helpful to plan for the following week.
Webinars have been delivered in the last year through Blackboard Collaborate (web conferencing), making it easier for students to manage how they want to participate. Students can try out posting a comment on the chat function, use the mic, or posting their comments/questions on Mentimeter (an anonymous audience participation tool). This way, everyone can feel comfortable joining in and hearing about other students’ ideas and getting to know about the student experience during the pandemic. There are no assessments or demands on the Life Tools Programme, so students can join the webinars when they want to.
Delivering webinars online has meant that the programme is more accessible and inclusive than ever. Many students can join the webinars when self-isolating, from their home in the UK or abroad – allowing students at the Malaysia campus to join in too.
We have found since moving online that student has engagement increased – 87% (2020 autumn term) compared to the 2019 autumn term – something we are really proud of.
Life Tools programme online:
The Life Tools programme aims to provide students with the knowledge and strategies for personal and professional development. It has been instrumental for many students to manage the transition to online learning, managing uncertainty and the thoughts and feelings associated with a changing world presenting new demands.
Feedback is collected regularly and used to develop the programme to be responsive to student interests, making it more relevant and engaging.
Students have said that they have felt more connected to the University during the pandemic and that attending webinars regularly helped create structure, manage the academic pressure, be more productive, boost motivation and keep well in this new situation. Students have used words such as “useful, motivating, relaxing, insightful, reassuring, connectivity and beneficial” to describe their experience of the online programme.
Denis Persichini, third-year Psychology student stated: “I found Life Tools to be really positive from the very first session. Dr Peña Bizama creates a safe and friendly community environment where students can share their experiences and concerns, encouraging us to break down mental health stereotypes and normalising everyday mental wellbeing challenges. I appreciate the variety of topics that are offered each week and how they are specifically tailored to students’ needs and experiences. It also provides a good space to reflect on our personal development (also applicable to life/work contexts). In fact, the sessions provide practical guidance and relevant suggestions that students can apply immediately to daily situations.”
“I am currently part of a research team exploring students’ experiences of the programme and the most common feedback we receive is that the sessions provide a confident and empathetic environment which has especially helped students during the pandemic. I hope that more students are able to join the programme in the future as it truly is an invaluable tool to improve your wellbeing.”
Students can find out more about Life Tools, and enrol on the Blackboard programme by going to the Life Tools page on Essentials, where students will find details of the webinars coming up.