As the semester draws to a close and everybody is settled into life at Futureworks, we thought it would be interesting to have a look back over the year we’ve had, and the changes that we have had to face together during such unprecedented times.
This September we welcomed a whole new cohort of wonderful students through our doors. The enrolment process was very different from previous years due to COVID-19 concerns and everybody involved in organising the event put a huge amount of work in to keep things running safely and smoothly. Safety measures were put into place such as reducing the number of people in the building at any one time, making masks compulsory, introducing floor markers to keep people separated from one another, and we had hygiene stations at several intervals throughout the entire building to encourage visitors to wash their hands. Lastly, a very large proportion of the usually bustling event was moved online and took place digitally, which of course kept everything so much safer.
This meant that the process also took a lot longer – traditionally enrolment takes place over five days, but this year it took two weeks to make sure we did our best to keep everyone safe.
“This year has definitely been interesting. I’ve worked enrolment for three years in a row now and this is the first time I can say that it’s been quiet! I’d say it’s been a very unique experience” – Czarina Mallen, 3rd Year Digital Animation with Illustration and a regular helper at events.
“Usually it’s a constant stream of people, all day – so we’re always ready to jump in to answer questions and fix any problems. We’re always in that kind of ‘alert’ mindset. Now however, we’ve been having a break between enrolling much smaller groups of people – which I think is both good and bad. It’s almost a downside because we’re not so much in that constant ‘ready-to-go’ stage, so there’s less of a ‘buzz’ about the whole thing – but at the same time the break between groups allows us to get all the paperwork done that we usually would have to do afterwards.” – Kate Le Cocq, Head of Student Affairs.
“Although it was different and quite challenging to plan, I also think that some of the changes we had to make this year were really beneficial and will be things we continue to do going forward. It’s nice to be able to take some positives from this experience and use them to keep improving the way we do things.” – Sarah Strachan, Senior Student Experience Officer.
A mixed approach to teaching.
Similarly, a large proportion of the curriculum at Futureworks has been moved online into a digital format this year. Technology such as Discord, Zoom and Teams have proved vital to providing our students with the best possible level of teaching, all whilst keeping them safe. The alterations to teaching actually may have brought about some improvements, according to some of our tutors.
“Obviously the pandemic has affected our teaching since the lock-down and we’ve had to move quickly to deliver teaching, tutorials and support online. Based upon my interactions with students online, classes have felt the same as in physical classrooms.”
“Tutors are marking and moderating work remotely and we’ve been recording video feedback for students. This is out of the “norm” but we feel that the students appreciate this change. We can be much more specific with our feedback. This may be the new approach for us after the lock-down.” –Ken Lau, Head of School of Art & Design.
Whilst a huge effort has been made to ensure that we are delivering the highest quality content online, this doesn’t mean that there haven’t been face-to-face lessons too where possible. The nature of our courses means that there are lots of lessons which involve learning to use equipment, studios and other facilities, and we have made sure that these have been able to happen safely too. Take a look at the pictures of some of our second year Game & Interactive Audio students out and about as part of their Sound Design module!
Regardless of the teaching format and the challenges that COVID-19 has brought, our students are continuing to produce amazing work. Examples of this can be seen across our social media – we are still dedicated to celebrating the success and creativity of projects that our extremely talented students are working on, and we have no plans to stop!
Student Partner elections.
The start to the year might look quite different from the outside, but in many ways it is still business as usual. This semester we have elected our new group of Student Partners, who had their first official meeting this week. The Partners are a hugely important part of Futureworks – they are elected by their peers to represent each course, discuss issues students are facing, and help facilitate student-led events and activities. We are always proud of the work that our Student Partners do and we can’t wait to see what this year will bring for them.
Students at Futureworks don’t just get involved with representation at an internal level – this semester we have also welcomed our first group of Widening Participation Ambassadors, a collection of students from across all courses who have completed training in order to be able to provide workshops for young people who are thinking about going into higher education, or those who are interested in careers in the creative industries. This is a fantastic achievement for all of these students, and also for our Widening Participation Officer Lorraine Ballintine, who has led this project. We will be bringing you a post about the Ambassadors very soon, so make sure to check back to find out what they’ve been working on.
We are also gearing up for the next meeting of our Industry Advisory Group, a collection of creative professionals who work with Futureworks to help broaden and enhance the depth of knowledge and key skills of our students. You can find out more about the members of the IAG here, or keep an eye out for future blog posts about their work.
As you can see it’s been a very busy start to the academic year, and we think that all of the staff and students have worked brilliantly to make it as smooth and successful as possible. We’re so proud of the work that everyone has done, and despite these strange times we can’t wait to see what 2021 will bring!