History students share their experiences of online lectures and seminars

As the School of History has adjusted to new ways of working this year, read about how our students and teaching staff have embraced new ways of learning.

Having the nature of your degree change completely in a short space of time can cause an air of uncertainty, but the way it was handled was extremely organised and structured. I was worried about how the uncertain climate would affect my studies, but the School of History created an effective online learning system by making countless resources available and incorporating a dynamic range of learning mediums. Our tutors were exceedingly helpful and their continual reassurance and support throughout the whole process made what would have been an otherwise frightening procedure both stimulating and enjoyable.

- Megan, History student

While studying, researching and teaching during a global pandemic has been very challenging, School of History students and staff have worked together to use the technological tools available to ensure a smooth and successful transition to online teaching.

History student Suzanne felt “fully supported, both academically and personally, throughout this unprecedented period through regular email correspondence, one-to-one online meetings and the teaching and recording of online seminars. I found the online discussions, via Minerva, particularly helpful in further consolidating my understanding of those topics which had been remotely delivered. From my perspective, the School of History’s enforced transition to online teaching has been skilfully and sensitively handled, and this is a testament to the caring and professional nature of the department.”

Some students were naturally worried about practical issues, such as being able to maintain contact with tutors and classmates. Fortunately, History student Oliver felt well supported: "The most remarkable aspect about the transfer to online teaching was the personal response and communication led by my module leaders. I arranged one-to-one meetings with all my tutors where I could discuss my work just like any other office hour. They kept consistent communication throughout this time, keeping the process as transparent as possible."

Earlier in the year, the School of History and the Institute for Medieval Studies were recognised in the University’s Partnership awards, which is an annual event to give thanks to staff and students for working together to provide an exceptional learning experience.

This passion for creating a positive impact, providing feedback, and inspirational, globally-minded teaching is at the heart of everything we do, and it shone through as we adjusted to a new way of working. Student Natalie felt that “all of the School of History staff went above and beyond what I would have expected in terms of communication and commitment to maintaining the quality of teaching. I really appreciated this and I know a lot of my peers did as well.”

Jessica, who was completing her first year, adds: “I really enjoyed my International History seminar with Francesca Morphakis, who adapted very well to online teaching and was still able to make the session fun and engaging, despite it being online. I had worked on a presentation which was due the week before the university shut down – I therefore thought it would not be possible to present it and was disheartened after spending so much time on it. However, through online learning, I was able to present and share my work with my peers.”

School of History lecturer Dr John Gallagher offers a perspective from our academic staff about remote learning and teaching: "Even in challenging times for teachers and students, the School of History has been quick to adapt to online learning, with colleagues using exciting and innovative methods to engage with their students. From online resources to online assessments, and in classroom sessions, chats, and one-on-one check-ins, the School's teaching staff have brought expertise and enthusiasm to the online learning experience, and ensured that our students don't lose out on the experience of studying history at Leeds."

I was pleasantly surprised with the adjustment to moving everything online. I also appreciated that we had an online forum where we could answer some of the discussion questions before the seminar, as I felt that this encouraged everyone to come to the seminar with several ideas that they were ready to discuss. Staff took the time to ensure that we were all getting the most out of the online teaching and minimise the disruption to our studies, despite it being really difficult circumstances.

- Georgia, History student