Student Working on Laptop

Taking the Pre-Sessional English courses entirely online during a global pandemic

Katie Hudson, Gary Ellis & Seán Timon
English Language Centre, Directorate of Student Experience and Enhancement

This case study focuses on the development and implementation processes of taking the Pre-Sessional English courses online.

In response to Covid 19, immediate action had to be taken to move our course online with less than 1 month to prepare for student induction. This involved redesigning the student experience, implementing widespread pedagogical changes, and, beyond the initial phase, reflecting and improving our processes and product.

Please briefly describe the activity undertaken for the case study

The decision to adopt Microsoft Teams entirely as our Virtual Learning Environment and conduit for teaching was taken in the first meeting on March 23rd 2020.

We discussed how material adaptation and pedagogy changed from the following courses:

  • The 20 week course (April 2020 - June 2020)
  • The 10 or 6 week courses (July 2020 - Sept 2020)
  • The 40 week course (Sept 2020 - Dec 2020)
How was the activity implemented?

Initial meetings were held to determine the strengths and experiences of the PSE team, leading to the creation of task groups and project allocation. These projects focused on intensive research and development of the Teams platform, adaptation of current teaching materials and assessment for online use and adaptation of administrative and communication processes.

From this point onward we have been continuously learning and improving the student experience on the PSE course through development in the following areas:

  • Integrating the course with the platform
  • Developing and adapting materials (flipped classroom and active learning)
  • Collaborative learning environment
  • Pedagogical approaches and methodology
  • Building an online community for teachers and students
  • Assessment
  • Training staff and students (inductions, re-training as teams updated)
Has this activity improved programme provision and student experience, if so how?

Yes, it has increased our understanding of and proven our ability to provide a course based on:

  • Active and independent learning
  • Student reflection
  • Active teaching
  • Asynchronous and synchronous classrooms
  • Integrated Assessment
  • Heightened collegiality (peer-to-peer CPD)
  • Research-based learning
  • Incorporating multi-media

The process of learning about and implementing this online course has resulted in increased expertise within our team, with a clear roadmap for future training. We have also benefited from increased engagement and collaboration between the ELC and the wider University due to this activity.

Did you experience any challenges in implementation, if so how did you overcome these?
  • Communication processes
  • Task definition
  • Meetings
  • Resource allocation
  • Technology
  • Health
  • Student engagement
  • Material and methodological suitability
How could this case study be transferred to other disciplines?

This is difficult to answer based on our area of focus for this case study.

Creative Commons Licence
Taking the Pre-Sessional English courses entirely online during a global pandemic by Katie Hudson, Gary Ellis and Seán Timon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.