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MDX embraces online learning amid coronavirus outbreak

Academic staff and students have been making full use of resources such as Zoom, Adobe Connect and Kaltura

Picture: The School of Nursing stage a Zoom session

Middlesex University staff and students have been using innovative online teaching methods in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The University has moved to teaching online after face-to-face teaching, supervision and academic support was suspended at MDX on Monday March 16 due to the pandemic.

In a determined effort to continue learning, academic staff and students have embraced e-learning and resources such as Zoom, Adobe Connect and Kaltura to continue with lectures, revision and feedback.

Zoom, a free-to-use video conference app, has been extremely popular amid the crisis with more than 50 million downloads on Google Play alone according to the BBC.

The Accounting and Finance department of MDX Business School have streamed online revision classes and provided online feedback and learning materials for its students.

"This is not business as usual, it’s very unusual and these kinds of (Zoom) meetings and keeping in contact, particularly face-to-face contact, are extremely helpful," Alessandra De Tommaso, Senior Lecturer in Law.

Agnes Grondin, a Senior Lecturer in Accounting, has been holding online revision classes which are then uploaded to My Learning, the student virtual learning environment platform.

This has allowed Agnes to keep in touch with students, and provide them with interaction in isolating times.

John Magpayo, an Accounting and Finance technician, has been sending students voice feedback on their work via Adobe Connect, which he described as even more effective than traditional written feedback because students are visually walked through different points.

“Communication is very important during this period and we can always be there for them (the students) using these platforms,” said John.

“Since the students are very technically minded, they have been able to adapt very quickly and embraced the situation.”

Picture: Agnes Grondin produces online revision via Adobe Connect

The Nursing and Midwifery department has also embraced online technology to support BSc students in three fields of nursing – Adult, Children and Young People, Mental Health – along with the students enrolled on the Nursing Associate, Midwifery and BSc Apprenticeship programmes.

Marion Taylor, Director of Programmes for Nursing, said: “We have a wide range of nursing, midwifery and nursing associate programmes that we are running and supporting in these very challenging times for us all, the NHS and Social Care especially.

‘We are meeting with our programme teams using zoom or other technology, and we are supporting online delivery of our programmes using a wide range of platforms with the support of our colleagues in the Centre for Academic Practice Enhancement (CAPE).

“We have good communication processes with our students, hosting zoom and other meetings with them.

“Many of our cohorts are still in the full throes of teaching, and our latest Nursing Associate programme had just two days face-to-face induction in the university before all provision went online.”

Sheila Cunningham, Associate Professor, BSc Nursing has been developing online/virtual lab  physiology activities, while also keeping in contact with students via Twitter and discussion boards.

Pic: The School of Law hold a catch up for Doctoral students

The MDX School of Law has adapted to the extreme circumstances sparked by the COVID-19 crisis with various web-based events including an International Law discussion group and book club.

Dr Joelle Grogan, a Senior Lecturer in EU law, staged the first ever online EU Law lecture on constitutional issues and Brexit via Zoom, which 30 people joined.

The School of Law held an online catch up via Zoom for Doctoral Students, who are based in countries such as India, Turkey and Italy, to share experiences and tips.

Alessandra De Tommaso, a Senior Lecturer in Law who joined the Zoom session, told the students: “It’s vital to understand this is a period of transition and you’re not expected to produce the same as we would under normal circumstances because there’s so much going on.

"One of the most important things you can do is to maintain a structured timetable so you feel like you’re still achieving day after day.

"This is not business as usual, it’s very unusual and these kinds of (Zoom) meetings and keeping in contact, particularly face-to-face contact, are extremely helpful.”

One Doctoral student from Turkey said: “It has been very difficult for me but I’m trying to emulate the learning environment I had before the outbreak.”

The University has brought forward the procurement of 700 laptops to support every student and staff member who needs equipment to enable home working.

MDX programme leaders have been contacting students to inform them of the new online teaching arrangement.

Students can still access the My Learning platform and Adobe Creative Cloud software, the latter has been extended for access until May 31.

Students can find out about the online support available:

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