‘It has been really reassuring for me seeing how the history department has handled the move to online learning’. A History student reflects on studying in a pandemic

Today we have another post from one of our History students at Northampton. Charlotte has just completed year two and reflects on studying History in a pandemic. 

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We have all been impacted by Covid-19 for months now and I just wanted to give people a bit of an insight about my experience of how the History department at the University of Northampton has addressed this.

Seeing Covid-19 moving across Europe was quite a scary experience. Never before have I and many others lived during a pandemic. Not only did I have mine and my family’s health to worry about but there was the uncertainty of what will happen with schools, universities and work.

Thankfully, the history department shouldered part of that burden. We moved to online learning instantly! It was a lot to adapt to but a lot of the infrastructure for integrated learning was already in place.

We were kept updated about what would be happening and what options were being explored regarding assessments. We were given three separate dates to sit exams and submit work to relieve some of the pressure.

For example, we could sit exams on the original dates in May or the future dates in July and August with no detriment to our grades. The exams were also going to be online, with an extra hour and open book. Personally, this was a massive weight off my mind. I have two children and so having the flexibility to sit exams at different dates was a huge help.

The history department held regular virtual drop in sessions where we could all speak about our concerns with the course, life in lockdown and the future. They have been so supportive and have said they will continue to hold virtual drop in sessions over the summer, even though we wouldn’t be at university then. Staff also held virtual exam revision sessions.

This wasn’t easy for students or staff as normally we would have face to face interaction. It was a huge help though knowing that the staff were also trying to adjust to online learning and all that entailed.

Access to resources was another concern for a lot of us. No one could go and get library books due to the lockdown, so the lecturers put this forward to the library staff to try and digitise more books. In the grand scheme, not having library books was not a massive priority but for us university students it was a real concern. We were given information about different organisations that were giving free access to their materials which I definitely utilised!

On a lighter note, the history society and staff organised a virtual quiz that students could attend, and the staff had question rounds. Some staff were not as kind with their questions…I’ll mention no names! This was a really fun evening where we got to see students from other year groups and have a bit of a giggle. Some students were more competitive than others and I look forward to many more virtual history quizzes in the future.

It has been really reassuring for me seeing how the history department has handled the move to online learning. It definitely gives me peace of mind that should we have to have integrated learning in the future, the department will be able to handle it with ease.

Charlotte, Second Year undergraduate, BA (Hons) History 

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