#ExeCollTogether – How Exceptional Learning is Continuing at Exeter College

Following the Government announcement that all schools and colleges would be closing to the majority of students from 4.30pm on Friday, 20th March, Exeter College’s plan of action on delivering exceptional learning digitally has launched.  

Our staff have been preparing for this eventuality for some time and students and teachers are now transitioning their learning to an online format using Microsoft Teams, Moodle and College email addresses.  

“We all have a passion for technology, and we’re collectively geared up to continue supporting staff and students via remote working and learning,”

Paul Knee, ICT Manager

Since the Government announcement on last Wednesday, over 390 new online Microsoft Teams have been set up for classes for remote learning, with over 3600 students already prepared to continue their learning for the coming weeks. These figures are expected to rise dramatically as the transition continues. 

Our staff were given time to prepare online content for learners, and our digital services teams (ICT, Innovations and Learning Media Services) have been working tirelessly together to ensure, where possible, students can continue their learning as seamlessly as possible.  

Although we’re no longer physically together, the College community continues. It’s for this reason that the Exeter College social media accounts will be using #ExeCollTogether to share tips and advice from our staff and learners on how they’re getting the most from their learning at home during this uncertain time.  

In addition to teacher-led online activities and learning experiences, students have also been encouraged to form independent online study groups to help keep each other on track with work and maintain online social contact with friends.  

Students on Apprenticeship courses with us have been directed to a Remote Working Guide to support their studies during this interruption.  

Exeter College ICT Manager Paul Knee has been coordinating our digital teams with the rapid transition to online learning through Microsoft Teams and Moodle. He said, “We had been planning for a College-wide move to Microsoft Teams in September, but given the exceptional circumstances of recent weeks, we accelerated this programme to support the urgent need for remote teaching and learning now via the initiative we call Teams Classroom. 

“We all have a passion for technology, and we’re collectively geared up to continue supporting staff and students via remote working and learning.” 

Exeter College Digital Innovation and Engagement Manager Anthony Martin has been leading the drive to digital transformation. He said, “We have been preparing for changes to the workplace of the future and exploring ways of engaging our learners in more immersive digital technology. 

“The preparations being put in place follow our existing Digital Transformation Strategy, which has been developed by the team, and would lead to a September rollout of new digital learning platforms. We’re obviously making that transition in a lot quicker time frame than we had imagined or would have liked, but we do already have a lot of the technology in place to support staff and students to make a success of this. 

“We’re creating a package to support our tutors and get them using their digital skills in an efficient way. We’ve also enabled staff to share their best practice with each other in Microsoft Teams so that everyone is learning together. 

“At present, we’re creating a one-size-fits all system for staff and students, but as time goes on, things will adapt and shift to suit certain courses and learning styles. Sessions will be taught via Teams, video and audio remote lectures, screen sharing and interactive presentations, as well as some independent study activities. 

“We’re keen to ensure this whole process is as seamless as possible for students and that’s why we’re really focusing on supporting everyone to make the best possible start to this that they can. It’s a determination of mine that nobody is left behind.” 

Some online learning sessions have already taken place as students and staff get used to this new way of delivering education. Anthony said the feedback from sessions which have already taken place has been positive. 

“It’s early days, but four or five groups have already given feedback and they’re delighted with how it is working. The students are excited to use the tools, which is great to hear as we move in to this new learning environment. Their feedback is of great comfort to the team, knowing students feel supported in using these tools effectively and helping them continue their studies,” said Anthony.  

“It won’t be perfect from day one but, from what we’ve put together for everyone, it’s certainly going to help the transition.” 

For more information on the closure of Exeter College, please see our Coronavirus Guidance page.