Connection is the magic word during the first lessons

Finally study programmes have been allowed to physically host lessons on campus. Connecting first-year students, who usually don’t see each other ‘live’ for more than a few hours per week, seems to be a key matter.

How to get first-year students to get to know each other, make them feel at home and connected to one another on the 1.5-meter campus? That has been THE question lecturers have asked themselves in corona times. Since before the summer break, the Educational Innovation team has picked up that task. The team asked lecturers and colleagues via Yammer to share their tips with regards to group-forming, social cohesion and the 1.5-meter campus. That led to this document: Introduction and welcoming first-years.

Core groups

In this document, you can find tips for the introduction, the first lessons and the first semester. One of those tips is to divide a group into smaller ‘core groups’, in which about six students get together on campus physically, while the lessons for the entire group happen online. If students from the same geographical region are in the same core group, it’s easier for them to meet up to work off-campus.

Important tips for lecturers: Show much active involvement, ask for updates from your students and invest in cooperation and student-focused assignments.

Small talk

Reinforcing the interaction during the online lessons is a new priority for lecturers and they have gotten quite creative with regards to that: ‘Try to contact absent students’, ‘Make sure you’re online rather early and make small talk first’, ‘Have students react a lot in chat, guide the input from extraverted students and engage the introverted students.’ 

Small scale

Allard Welmers from the Educational Innovation team noticed that the COVID-crisis changed working and studying overnight. “Normally you would carefully choose which part of your education you would offer online, but now everything had to become digital. We saw that lecturers had lots of ideas about how to do that, but not enough time to share their ideas. That’s why we put all the ideas together and made the conversation about this easier.”

What’s an important tip according to him? “Try to look for a small scale, both online and offline and focus on personal contact.” The Educational Innovation team wants to keep thinking about supporting and stimulating expertise among lecturers during these corona times.

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