My blended learning experience: Gabriele Kalantaite
Student experience 27th November 2020
Gabriele Kalantaite, a third-year Materials Science and Engineering student, tells us how she’s found the switch to blended learning so far.
Hello from the main library – a place where I come every day to do assignments, watch lectures, talk to librarians for some social interaction (and demonstrate my graphene mask). I’m Gabriele, a third-year Materials Science and Engineering student, and I’d like to share my experience of blended learning for this academic year.
To begin with, the Department of Materials has moved everything to online platforms – all lectures, tutorials, workshops, labs, meetings with academic advisors… everything’s in Zoom. At the beginning I didn’t like it at all – it was hard to focus on lectures being in my room with all the distractions (fridge and bed being the biggest ones), so I decided to divide my room into spaces and create some rules for them, for instance no phone in the study space. Even though we have only one live lecture per module per week, I still try to do asynchronous activities ahead of time, so my time management skills improved.
It’s amazing to see how much effort lecturers put into their activities: quizzes, menti polls, worksheets, online tours of the labs, showing us the equipment, live experiments and demonstrations from labs just so we feel like we are actually there. And all my negativity started evaporating when I realised how much time I’ve saved: from just turning on my laptop and eating breakfast during my first lecture, to watching recordings of lectures I couldn’t attend. It gave me so much flexibility and comfort!
Wellbeing and support
Have you ever tried to sing in front of camera, when no one hears you, and you see your face mimicking the words? It’s a very strange and funny feeling. As this year is different, I’ve decided to join a wellbeing choir SingIt!. I’ve always sung and this year I wanted to meet other people, so now every Wednesday evening I sing very awkwardly without hearing other people. However, this one hour a week charges me with such great mood that I can survive all difficulties.
Talking about wellbeing and support, I’m stressed out mostly all of the time –due to workload, being behind, procrastination, but I got so much support from the University to tackle it! Firstly, I became a buddy for other students who are in a similar situation to me, then I contacted my counsellor and tried doing meditation. It always helps me to relax, calm my mind and I realised that sometimes it is okay to procrastinate (or spend five hours talking to your best friend about cats), and every day I try to spot something good that happened to me and appreciate those moments, rather than hearing about Covid 24/7.
Overall, the lack of social interaction (and sometimes the only person I talk to in the whole week is the barista when I ask for my n-th cup of gingerbread latte) has demotivated me a bit, but a wish to pursue a scientist’s career is keeping me on track and sometimes I like this new normal.