Welcome Week has always been a big event for our Sports and Exercise Sciences Programmes. Pre-Covid, new students began their Programme with a week full of sporting activities. This allowed new students to meet their peers and, importantly, to become integrated into the wider sports sciences community, including teaching staff, Sports Lab staff and students from all other Levels – undergraduate, Masters and PhD.
This sense of community has been central to the Team’s success in maintaining engagement and increasing retention, which is reflected in the Programme’s above sector NSS scores.
So, when planning Welcome Week for 2020/21, the Team began with their core Welcome Week objective: to build the learning community.
Because of Covid-19 restrictions, new students won’t be able to physically mix with the wider community. One way that the Team are overcoming this is by using Padlet.
A Welcome Padlet is being created at the Section level, hosting short videos from members of the Sports Sciences community. This will enable students to see and hear not only from people who teach them in Semester 1, but also from staff who will teach them and support them in Semester 2 and beyond. This will help with the transition into Semester 2 and across the Levels. New students will also hear from current students. This will show students that they are part of a wider subject/social community, highlighting sources of support.
Padlet is an engaging, interactive medium. Students can post comments and videos, they can respond to others’ posts with likes, or with their own content. Programme-level Padlets will allow students to upload content and interact with students outside of their small teaching ‘pods’ that have been created because of Covid. For example, Sports Rehabilitation students will be brought together in six groups of 10. The Padlet will support Programme-level interactions, which will ease the transition into larger group teaching, once lockdown restrictions ease.
With a little gentle management, Padlet can build a real community online. Colm Gregory has the following tips for using Padlet to meet the community aims of Welcome Week.
- Get in there and experiment! It doesn’t have to be perfect first time. Ask for help from your Learning Technologist and test your ideas on existing students, to get the student perspective. This can help you to ensure that you include content that is what students want and need, making sure that your Padlet is useful for them.
- Don’t be afraid to embed existing resources. On this Padlet, Colm uses student-centred content from CCCU and elsewhere to ease students into their new lives at CCCU.
- If you are allowing students to post and comment, build in time (at least initially) to teach students how to use Padlet. They may be new to the technology and may need to be reminded of ‘house rules’, to ensure that your Padlet is a safe space.
- Padlet works best in Chrome and the Padlet app, on Android or iPhone. Why not explore and see if it can work for you and your students?
For more information on the use of Padlet for Welcome Week in Sports and Exercise Sciences, please contact Colm.Gregory@Canterbury.ac.uk.
For more information on L&T in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Social Sciences, contact Susan.Kenyon@Canterbury.ac.uk.