Navigating technical issues
For more personal interaction, I’ve used Teams for catch ups with colleagues out of work hours – ladies who lunch has become ladies who like lockdown cocktails, or locktails. But with family and friends we’ve been using Zoom or WhatsApp. I don’t think I’ve had a single catch up so far where we’ve all got online and had our chat without any difficulty. Someone always has problems with logging on, sound but no video, or the opposite, buffering and dropouts – not everyone has boosted their broadband like I did. Keeping in touch, so important during lockdown for mental health in particular, has its technical problems, just as online learning and teaching has seen.
Back in the webinar, the students were asked to discuss negative issues, or problems they had experienced. A few of the students agreed that the biggest problem was the lack of social interaction. Some initiatives such as film club nights and other hobby groups had been set up, but the social learning experience students go through sadly can’t be replicated online.
Nobody mentioned poor internet speed but we know access to reliable internet, or even IT equipment is not equitable. Universities, schools and colleges are having to deal with that problem, and it’s relevant in the workplace too. Our office space (a university building) is closed until at least early July and then only for a very small number of staff who need to physically be in the building. Which means my kit with ergonomic keyboard and mouse, noise cancelling headphones, office chair and two screens on a stand at my desk are all inaccessible in the office. I’ve ordered a new stand and an office chair and I’m using an old keyboard with the Windows logo and the AltGR key missing. I don’t really know what the AltGr key does anyway so no big deal.
Back in the classroom there hasn’t been a great deal of other technology seen by our student panel other than the LMS or video, although one student had seen an impressive remote lab lecture using lots of cameras in a Russian university, but he thought it was quite rare to see that in action.