King’s Summer Programmes delivers pre-university and undergraduate-level summer school courses to students from around the world, as well as creating study abroad experiences for year-round King’s students. The emergency deployment of online provision in 2020 posed particular challenges to provide our style of educational experience for students, and the effective use of Microsoft Teams helped to deliver this in addition to a lot of hard work and dedication from tutors and professional services colleagues – in this blog I’m going to focus on Teams though.
Summer education brings the best of King’s research-enhanced education to students from King’s worldwide partners and elsewhere, in partnership with our fantastic tutors from a wide variety of departments and schools throughout the university. However, Summer education also necessarily has its own distinctive flavour due to its short timespan, varied student groups and position outside of ‘typical’ degree programmes.
Our courses are generally two or three weeks and consist of a wide international mix of students who have never met before. In June 2020, we were among the first in the university to deliver courses to new student groups (as opposed to shifting existing cohorts into online-only teaching), and it was of paramount importance for us to maintain the intensity and community spirit that characterise summer education. We felt that students needed as much real-time interaction as possible and to feel that they were in a shared space which they could help shape.
Summer Programmes have always made use of KEATS even when on campus, and in 2020 were lucky to be able to use the OPEE design system to deliver a polished and responsive learning environment. However, due to concerns above, we also wanted to make use of a Team for each student group (as opposed to simply using Teams Meetings for live classes).
The various channels meant that students could connect outside of class time, ask questions and get quick updates, chat and share their thoughts, and generally feel that they had a shared space rather than a teacher-designed VLE.
There was an administrative burden to this, in terms of monitoring and moderating channels, managing enrolments, providing additional induction and generally being on hand to solve technical problems at all hours. It was the online equivalent of our office in the Strand campus, which in a ‘normal’ summer is a hive of student inquiry and support. Lots of the lessons we learned dealing with problems on an ad-hoc basis can now be formalised into processes for future online courses.
For our particular brand of intensive summer programmes, using Teams in the way outlined above was really successful. Using KEATS and Teams Meetings alone, we would have struggled to replicate some of the highly participative, collegial elements of Summer courses which are so important to us.
- Summer Times, our department’s own educational blog, has further stories from the last decade of summer teaching.
- Our website is also a good place to check out more about summer education at King’s.
Written by Michael Salmon
Michael Salmon is Associate Director (Curriculum Renewal) for King’s Summer Programmes department. Prior to joining Summer Programmes, he worked within Online, Professional & Executive Education, and before that he acquired extensive teaching and lecturing experience elsewhere in UKHE, often with a technology-enhanced learning focus.
Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the above article or Summer Programmes’ work more generally.