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A well-informed start to the academic year

Most students have been at home for the majority of the year and the holidays are just beginning. After a busy period filled with uncertainty and fast changes, the holiday period couldn’t come sooner. Educational institutions are making suitable preparations to welcome their students back in September. With each educational institution having their own approach to blended learning, students quite rightly have a number of questions about the upcoming academic year.

In recent months, educational institutions have switched to virtual learning on a large scale, ensuring students can continue to make progress in their studies. In many cases, this will morph into blended learning come September, where some small group sessions will be in person. By the start of the academic year, the virtual learning experience would have had a few months to be optimised as far as possible. Research from the Dutch AT5 indicates that is very much necessary. 75% of all students indicated that the quality of education has gone down since the coronavirus outbreak. One participating student mentioned it was ‘a bit like Netflix, but much more expensive’.

Adjustments in education

Every institution is handling the situation differently. Some institutions are implementing blended learning while in other cases, there will not be any in-person education until at least January 2021. Not only is the location of classes affected but also the usage of campus facilities, such as the library which in some cases won’t be allowed to open. Regardless of the institution a student attends, there will be an impact on students.

Students will have to be familiar with all of these changes. When will they have to be present on campus and when will a class be virtual? Is there a possibility on a certain day students can use the facilities the campus has to offer and if so, under what conditions? As an educational institution, you will have to communicate these measures with students on a large scale, but also individually.

Informing students

In this extraordinary situation, two types of information need to be shared with all students. First off, there are overarching institution-wide updates. What guidelines do students and staff need to take into account? Adjusted opening hours, limits on numbers of people in a certain area, needing to register attendance in certain areas, just to name a few. Furthermore, any changes to the initial measures will need to be communicated to students at the right time. With this information, students know to what extent they will be able to use the campus facilities without adversely affecting their student experience.

Alongside institution-wide updates, there is information which is unique to every individual student. Students want to clearly be able to see in their timetable whether a session is in person or on the VLE, so they can prepare accordingly. 

In both cases, it is imperative to find out what channels your students prefer to receive communication from you, so you can share information efficiently. Being clear and fast with your communication is very important.

Do you need help informing your students at the start of the academic year? We’re happy to help!