It’s been a busy few weeks, and the scheduled blog posts ran out while my attention was elsewhere because I’ve been teaching full time on the English for Academic Purposes course at Lancaster University. The course is for overseas students to introduce them to academic skills such as essay writing, referencing and collaborative presentations, so that when they begin their courses at the university they are in as good a place as possible to succeed.

Normally, the course takes place face to face for 4 weeks with a week’s preparation for the staff, but this year it was converted to wholly online teaching. We had two weeks part-time to prepare ourselves for the course, but inevitably this took more time than was anticipated, so I’ve been working essentially full time for 6 weeks.

The students handed in their assignments on Monday mornings, which we had to mark and return before seeing each student for an individual tutorial, most of which took place on Mondays and Tuesdays. On Thursday, there was a whole class seminar. Along the way, the students had to produce reflective assignments, videos on Flipgrid, group presentations and various exercises.

It was certainly an interesting experience, if a little hard going at times – the early part of each week, in particular, had a heavy workload. Nevertheless, the staff were grouped into teaching teams made up of a combination of new recruits like me and old hands who had taught the course many times before (albeit face to face in the past!). The teams were under the watchful and supportive eye of an academic co-ordinator – in our case, SuperJavi, who was an absolute superstar.

What was really nice, especially after months of working from home, more or less alone, was to be part of that team – it was lovely to be able to log on each weekday to see how everyone was, and to share our successes and our frustrations (not just about the course but life in general).