For the last few months, our staff and students alike have found themselves adjusting to ‘the new normal’, teaching and learning remotely through the help of virtual technology platforms. The determination from all areas of the university to carry on learning has remained steadfast throughout 2020, and the entire LJMU community has shown amazing capabilities when it comes to ensuring that the studying never stops.
LJMU’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences is delivering innovative learning experiences in a series of online workshops and guest talks from various successful figures in the sporting industry. Through the power of Zoom, BSc (Hons) Science and Football students logged in remotely for a guest lecture with Lead Under 23 Fitness Coach for Liverpool Football Club, Jack Ade. Jack gave students a superb overview of his journey to become a fitness coach at one of the biggest football clubs in England. He spoke of the skills needed – not just sportsmanship, but also the grit, determination and perseverance required in order to get to the top.
Students also had the chance to hear from Professor Warren Gregson, Head Physiologist at Qatar FA. Warren elaborated on his roles at the Aspire and Qatar FA project, which has been a long-term plan to set up sports science structures for a range of teams and leagues. This has been a complex process with the overarching goal to improve the playing standard ahead of the Qatar World Cup in 2022, which pupils found particularly exciting to hear about.
Another amazing guest speaker also included Mark Beaumont – an athlete, BAFTA nominated broadcaster, author, business ambassador and multiple world record holder. He gave an incredible interview for our BSc Nutrition and BSc Sport and Nutrition for Health students about fuelling his attempt to cycle around the world in under 80 days. He also offered excellent career advice on how to take ownership of your mind-set and respond to challenges in positive ways.
Such virtual events are a prime example of ‘a new normal’ that can connect students at LJMU direct to industry, despite the backdrop of a national lockdown. Students have still been able to gain amazing insights and connect with inspirational mentors, despite the physical restraints posed by home studying.
And it’s not just the lectures that have been moving online. This year the university also hosted its very first virtual exchange programme during Curriculum Enrichment Week 2020. Students from Liverpool Business School and Yayasan Pendidikan Cheras (YPC) International College in Kuala Lumpur came together virtually to discuss and compare how Covid-19 has impacted businesses in Malaysia and the UK. A total of 25 students took part in the virtual event, collaborating in groups to showcase their own presentations focused on the effects of the pandemic, with a virtual prize-giving ceremony held for the best presentation. It is hoped that this is something that will continue for further academic years to come, with more students collaborating from Yayasan and other partner institutions
The shift to online learning has also raised new questions about how the university can continue to best support blended learning. One of the issues is digital inclusion and whether the needs of all students are continuing to be met. To remedy this, a new LJMU group has been formed to consider and combat these challenges. The virtual meetings will bring together LJMU students and staff, alumni and the broader community seeking to support digital inclusion.
Organiser, Dr Anne-Marie Bartlett, explains: "We want to give staff and students the opportunity to reflect on our recent shift online and to consider the opportunities and limitations for students, particularly those already facing barriers in their learning. The session will explore opportunities to support student mental health and wellbeing through creative and cultural community engagement during and in emergence from coronavirus lockdown."
It is hoped discussions will allow for reflection, and that it will help form a special interest group dedicated to these issues.
LJMU continues to focus on the new semesters ahead and particularly on how we can move forward together, ensuring that the very best standards of learning can continue to be upheld going forward. For updated and detailed information on any of the university’s Covid-19 responses or policy changes, visit our dedicated web-page or to find out how more about studying with us visit our LJMU Connect page. We would also like to say a massive thank you, particularly to our hardworking students and staff, for your continued understanding and help during these challenging times.