Studying BSc Hons Occupational Therapy during the Covid-19 Pandemic
My name is Isobel Scaife, nine months after the initial COVID-19 outbreak, I started my undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy at Leeds Beckett. In this blog post, I’m going to talk about my experience of online learning so far.
Whereas some might have in-person teaching once or twice a fortnight, my course has been online-only during first semester; something that’s been helpful during this Autumn’s second national lockdown, as I’ve not had to worry about if/how teaching will continue. Our lectures are delivered through Blackboard’s Collaborate, a video platform similar to Skype and Microsoft Teams. It’s easy to use and any worries I had about not being able to access teaching were quickly dispelled. Even if we do have technical difficulties, our lecturers are always understanding!
That being said, some face-to-face teaching will be introduced in second semester which I’m looking forward to. It will be nice to finally meet my course-mates and lecturers in person! I’m equally excited for practice placements, which will take place after Easter. It will be interesting to see how theory is put into practice and experience first-hand what it’s like to work as an Occupational Therapist. We’ve been reassured that placement will take place in some capacity; either in-person, online, or through a blend of the two.
Although socialising has been difficult this year, due to lockdown restrictions and online learning, I still feel like I’ve gotten to know my cohort. During our lectures, we’re often placed in ‘breakout rooms’ to do small group tasks, allowing us to get to know each other. We’ve all been assigned a ‘study buddy’ too; another member of the cohort who we can chat to and work with.
There are plenty of other opportunities to socialise across the university. During first semester, I’ve joined the university’s badminton club, the occupational therapy society, and become one of the two course representatives for my cohort. Taking part in sport once or twice a week hasn’t just helped my physical and mental health during Covid-19, but it’s also allowed me to get to know people from other courses who I might not have met otherwise! The occupational therapy society host their own online events too; it’s been lovely to meet students from the MSc course. It might feel daunting at first, but I really recommend joining a society or sports club when you start university
Things were bound to be different this year, but different doesn’t mean bad. Online learning can be tough, but it’s still enjoyable! Even though we’re not currently meeting in-person, lecturers are easy to contact via email and often respond the same day. Other support is available through the 24/7 online library, or the Student Wellbeing Team if you’re struggling with your mental health.