Hello everyone. My name is Bryan and I am a third year Pharmacy student, originally from Hong Kong. Today I am going to give you an insight into my personal experiences with the brand-new blended learning curriculum at the University of Bradford.
Bryan Tsui, Pharmacy MPharm (Hons)
Typical day in MPharm curriculum (blended learning)
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 90% of the face-to-face sessions (team-based learning sessions and lectures) have been moved online. The remaining 10% are practical sessions that we need to attend face-to-face (patient consultation simulation with peers, calculation workshops, and seminars).
In terms of online synchronous sessions, all sessions are delivered through Zoom and an online software called Intedashbaord ®, which specialises in delivering online team-based learning. Most synchronous sessions tend to start at 9am and finish at around 5pm during weekdays, with an exception on Wednesday, when most sessions finish at 1pm.
In addition to the synchronous sessions, there are asynchronous tasks within the blended curriculum where we are required to complete directed reading or passive laboratory tasks online (accuracy checks and clinical prescription checks).
In my opinion, I do believe the decision to move online hasn’t caused much impact compared to face-to-face teaching. In fact, myself and peers within the course are more engaged with the teaching material and the staff responses are no different to face-to-face teaching. Some academic staff go above and beyond to stay behind to give feedback despite the sessions overrunning, so I’d like to give a big shout to those members of staff.
Work-life balance in the pandemic
It can be quite overwhelming with how busy it can get within the blended learning curriculum. Trust me, I personally found it very difficult to cope with the pace in the first two weeks.
The amount of time I spend in front of a screen can vary between five to six hours. Therefore, I cannot emphasise the importance of taking regular breaks after each session, even if it is five to ten minutes to take a short walk within the public area of your student accommodation flat, or having a cup of tea to recharge yourself for the next session; and most importantly, staying away from the monitor for a couple of minutes to allow your eyes some ease.
I personally take an approach to start my day at 9am and aim to finish at 5pm/6pm depending on the session that is scheduled within the curriculum timetable. This solid eight or nine hours allows me to get most of the work done and not have to worry or rush to finish any important asynchronous assignments that are due in the following day.
Tips to maintain positive mental health
It is okay to feel lonely and lack motivation to focus during this difficult time. Recognising the cause and finding appropriate available support is more important than ever under this difficult time, to ensure you are both physically and mentally fit.
The University Counselling and Mental Health Service offer one-to-one support where students can have a chat about their concerns or worries. You can discuss this with your personal academic tutor (PAT) as well.
Finally, if you want to have a private and confidential chat with a professional or find out how other students are coping elsewhere in the country, the Living Well website and Student Space can be good starting places.
Coping with the ever-changing situation
I want to sum up by saying ‘we are all in this together’. We are all trying our very best to cope with the new changes and it is completely understandable to ask for help.
Whether you want to have a chat with someone else or just have a day where you want to completely stay away from technology because you feel like you’ve had enough of it, the important thing is not to keep yourself in the dark. Look out for a listener and I am sure everyone will be more than happy to hear you out.
Stick with the government’s latest guidance and more importantly, stay positive, because lifestyles may be more normal in the summer (depending on the vaccine rollout).