The current COVID-19 pandemic has affected every area of our lives. Here at Cranfield, our staff and students have risen to the challenge by embracing online delivery of lectures, tutorials and project work.
Cranfield has invested significantly in the delivery of online education in recent years - including the launch of the Grenville Turner Broadcast Facility, and a dedicated Technology Enhanced Learning Team.
Hear from some of our students about their experiences of this new kind of virtual learning below.
Marta Sanzo - Food Systems and Management MSc:
“Working online has triggered us to be more conclusive in our group project meetings, leading them to be more productive and efficient. We have had the opportunity to prove another way of working where every single moment has been meaningful, and we have taken full advantage of it.”
Abdoul-Rasheed Okegan - Renewable Energy MSc:
“When the group project officially commenced, we were able to meet and liaise in person, which I personally found really fruitful and engaging. On the 23 March 2020, this would all change due to COVID-19.
75% of the students from my group returned to their homes to be with their loved ones upon hearing of the national lockdown measures and this would introduce a new phase of the way the group project would be delivered. We were pushed towards virtual meetings, predominately using Skype and Microsoft Teams on occasion.
The biggest challenges were liaising with colleagues in three different time zones, including China. Nevertheless, the conclusion of the project is near and we are all looking forward to delivering a successful presentation. I have to thank my group project team members and supervisor for always being available and working hard throughout these unprecedented times, and showing resilience and persevering towards the delivery of the group project.”
Raquel Redondo Aparicio - Renewable Energy MSc:
“At the beginning I thought my experience of working remotely was going to be scary, as I was not going to be able to meet my team or my tutor for the group project face-to-face. However, it turned out to be very exciting!
I realised I was learning new things that I wouldn't have been able to learn otherwise. For instance, I got to use Crescent, one of Cranfield's supercomputers, and learned a bit of Linux coding. If I had stayed on campus, I wouldn't have needed it! Now that the group project is coming to an end, I realise working remotely has not really been a barrier to get the work done and obtain good results. It has been a challenging experience and positive aspects came from it.”
Marcel De Melo Gomes - Advanced Motorsport Mechatroncs MSc:
“Our group project is to convert a baseline racing vehicle (Westfield SDV) into a hybrid electric vehicle using an electric motor on the front axle and an internal combustion engine running hydrogen fuel to power the rear axle. The new vehicle is aimed at a new racing series in the Middle East. My role is running the powertrain simulation, taking inputs from different team members alongside the baseline vehicle model to create MATLAB/Simulink scripts to analyse and optimise vehicle powertrain performance.
Our project team is now spread across different time zones. We have been using remote networking tools such as Microsoft Teams and OneDrive to communicate and share files alongside WhatsApp for social interactions. We meet virtually twice a week with the team leader coordinating the activity. The academic team at Cranfield have done a good job and support us through bi-weekly virtual update meetings, alongside being accessible through email to answer Q&As. Being a technical course we also require access to software such as MATLAB/Simulink and IPG CarMaker; Cranfield has managed to provide remote access to these software packages using the VPN system which has worked really well - we have had great support.”
Joseph Fayolle - Advanced Chemical Engineering MSc:
“Doing the end of my Cranfield MSc in France was not expected at all! I think for all of us, students and academics, it has been quite a challenge to change our way of working in a matter of days. Having everything on campus at Cranfield is such an advantage to us while doing our MSc. Working remotely has been a challenge at times and I think it is a way to work that will be more and more present in the future after COVID-19.
I think remote learning has helped and encouraged us to work more independently. However, we are encircled with new technologies, with meetings on Skype, Zoom or Teams. This makes it easy to stay connected with classmates and academics as well as still being able to access campus laptops to perform simulations on specific software. For our group project, as we could not complete any lab work, it minimised the changes attained for our work. But I would just finish on the fact that human contact is extremely important, and I will always prefer a real face-to-face meeting than a video call!"
Timeyin Dabor - Management and Entrepreneurship MSc:
"I was a bit nervous for our first Zoom lecture as I did not know what to expect; even though we had some test runs, it did not feel the same as learning face to face. I am studying the Management and Entrepreneurship MSc and our first online lecture was on 14 April 2020. It was for the Social Entrepreneurship module, which we studied alongside the Management and Corporate Sustainability MSc cohort.
The first class was a bit trying because getting started was a bit difficult for me. We weren’t provided with the learning materials (slides, case studies) beforehand on Blackboard but they were eventually uploaded and the lecturer sent additional ones via email too. Initially it was hard to follow but during our discussion and Q&A sessions, valid questions were raised and answered. We were split into teams to carry out our group discussions in preparation for our presentation. We also had ample time for breaks. One thing I really enjoyed was being split into break out rooms several times with different people in the class so it made us interact more than we normally would. I’ve probably missed a few things but, so far, I’ve been happy with the remote teaching experience. The challenge will be keeping the students engaged. I also think the student turnout was good, the majority of us logged into the meetings. We are currently done with the online classes for the Social Entrepreneurship module, and we are now looking forward to having our thesis proposal briefings and Evidence-based Management module in the following weeks.
I am thankful to the staff and faculty at Cranfield University for working hard to deliver our remaining classes online."
Efstratios Botsoglou - Management MSc:
Our daily lives and educational experience at Cranfield has changed over last month. All of our lectures have moved online, giving us the opportunity to complete our studies as smoothly as possible. Initially, I thought that face-to-face learning was irreplaceable and quality could be lost with distance learning. However, day by day my perception is changing, by seeing the effort our professors are going to in order to maintain the high standards of our studies.
It is amazing how the online learning process mitigates spatial distances. Connected through the platform that Cranfield has provided us with, we can work and keep in touch with our classmates whenever we want whilst still feeling very close to each other. Of course, we need to be flexible and adaptable when taking time differences into account and good time management is necessary for us all to work together.
Henry Iwunze - Executive MBA:
“It took me a little bit to get used to sitting in front of the screen for such a long period. However, the frequent breaks made this much more comfortable, and I like the idea I can revisit the recording [of lectures] in the future. Besides, online study is allowing us not only to save on fuel and accommodation costs but also simultaneously protect the environment.”
Stan Rodgers - Executive MBA Defence Export:
“I enjoyed this new way of learning. I also like the idea of having the voice over for the slides. We had lectures entirely pre-recorded, which allow us to listen at our own pace, and then we held discussion groups at an agreed time to talk about the content. It worked well.”
Kristy McCrindle - Executive MBA:
“I am embracing this new way of learning and working in the virtual world for the past few weeks has definitely helped me adapt. I have completed many an online course in my time but virtual live lectures are different; they bring the human side to the virtual learning world. The lecturer is teaching in real time and still yearns for engagement and interactions from us students.”