Nadine Woods interviews our Chief Operating Officer, David Brunt, on how OCMS has adjusted to the Covid challenge.
What are the biggest changes you have had to make?
There were 2 main areas. The first big challenge for us was how to take new students through their research induction for the PhD programme when they can’t be here in Oxford. And the other was the necessity of moving weekly Montagu Barker Lectures from being a physical event to virtual events.
How did you tackle the research induction?
It was the faculty who did most of the work to move the induction to an online programme – the OCMS Programme for Research Induction (OPRI). From an operations standpoint we just needed to provide the enabling tools for the new programme to be online.
What tools were these?
We essentially created an internal student website with all the essential programme information they need, using our Google platform that OCMS runs on. Also we took advantage of Google Classrooms for module specific content and interactions. Classrooms are great because it allows the students to work through their induction modules at their own pace, have specific times of face-to-face interaction and also communicate together and with the faculty on the subject in question – irrespective of the time zone.
What did you have to do to make the Montagu Barker Lectures work online?
This was an easier problem to solve. We used our video conferencing technology to broadcast the lectures and also encourage interaction with attendees at the lectures. There was a real positive consequence when we did this because we found that more people were able to participate from around the world than had ever been the case before. Attendance at the lectures increased gradually, but when we started to tell people about the lectures on a regular basis, we found the audience grew quite quickly. We now send out a weekly email to over 200 people who have requested to be kept informed and load every lecture up on our website.
So would you say that there have been positives out of COVID?
Absolutely.. What has impressed me is that the challenges have led the staff of OCMS to be innovative in how they solve the significant challenges they faced and that through this we have done things that we may never have done, or not as quickly. And in most cases it has led to better outcomes.