At both colleges, tutors are all delivering full timetables from home due to the current coronavirus outbreak, but they have also been creating an online learning hub for the thousands of students due to start in September.
The Digital Campus allows school pupils to virtually enrol on college courses and self-study by gaining access to hundreds of learning resources across the wide variety of both colleges’ 16-18-year-old provision. The online initiative is being launched in early May via both colleges’ websites and through Cornwall’s schools and headteachers, who will email enrolment instructions direct to their Year 11 pupils.
Setting up the Digital Campus has called upon Truro and Penwith and Callywith’s teaching staff to re-design existing resources into an online format with support from the Colleges’ I.T Services and E Learning teams. It is hoped that, when launched, the vast majority of the colleges’ 4,000 plus new students due to start in September will access and complete the resources and learning tools and enable them to be well prepared for college and the next phase of their learning .
Andy Stittle, Truro and Penwith’s Director of Partnership, said of the Digital Campus initiative: “With no examination period this year for Year 11 students, the colleges have responded to calls from school headteachers to produce a selection of self-study materials to keep year 11 students engaged in learning based around their intended college courses this September.
“These will be particularly useful in providing some foundation subject knowledge together with a gradual, gentle progression from GCSE to the chosen course at College. The study materials are providing an opportunity to either continue academic study whilst at home, or understand key concepts and skills for a chosen vocational area.”
The Digital Campus is a key aspect of the Colleges’ over-arching ‘Connected College’ initiative, which has been launched this week as a result of the coronavirus crisis to help keep its staff, students and the wider community of Cornwall connected.
In addition to the Digital Campus, Connected College encompasses all the College’s online delivery projects being run as a response to the closure of schools across the region. These include the award-winning Health, Wellbeing and Sport team delivering daily fitness sessions live through YouTube, which have so far been viewed over 2,000 times.
Tutors are launching online Subject Spotlight events on May 11 giving would-be students the opportunity to learn more about the courses and qualifications on offer at both colleges through personal introductory videos hosted on their websites, and a series of online masterclasses from the Truro and Penwith’s higher education teaching staff focussing on cyber security, heritage and media are also planned for May and June.
The College’s first live streamed information session on the new T Level qualification was streamed via the Facebook page on Thursday, April 30 and reached almost 3,000 people.
In addition, Cornwall’s business community is receiving free online skill sessions to learn more on digital marketing and change management throughout May, delivered as part of Truro and Penwith’s European Social Funded projects.
Truro and Penwith College Principal and Callywith Chair David Walrond said of Digital Campus and both colleges’ wider efforts to keep its communities connected: “The current crisis presents major challenges to our colleges and to their present and future stakeholders, but the response from all staff has been outstanding.
“Between them the colleges constitute a massive community with stakeholders across the whole of Cornwall. It is a still expanding community which is crucial to Cornwall’s learning and its social and economic life. Keeping all stakeholders connected, engaged, and still acquiring those skills and knowledge which we and they need is vital to minimise the impact of the crisis.
“That is what these initiatives are aimed at. They are based on ongoing dialogues with all stakeholders and the early feedback from those learners, families, schools and employers has been hugely positive and appreciative. The nature of our thousands of weekly conversations has changed during this extraordinary period, but in many ways we are more connected than ever.”