The new and technologically-improved normal

For the new academic year, Oak Hill’s classrooms have been adapted to facilitate learning both in person and live online via Zoom.

For many weeks now the media has been full of discussion about how students of all ages have been affected in their learning by the coronavirus. Just before lockdown started in the U.K., all of Oak Hill’s teaching and as much of community life as possible was moved online so that learning continued in a virtual form. What about now?

For the new academic year, Oak Hill’s classrooms have been adapted to facilitate learning both in person and live online via Zoom. We believe that there are many benefits to face to face teaching but want all students to be able to access teaching in the current circumstances. Having learning online as well as in person will give students the means of easily attending lectures if they are unable to be there physically, and will mean that the College can continue to learn together even when they cannot meet together.  

The five largest rooms at College including the Chapel and the Dining Room have been redesigned with a new layout and new equipment. Additional cameras and microphones are now included to not only share a high-quality feed of the tutor and lecture presentation, but also share the classroom, so that online students are able to see and hear interactions within the room. Speakers and screens have been added to rooms to ensure that online students can be easily seen and heard by everyone in the classroom.



New opportunities for growth

At the heart of the new undergraduate course is the desire to see everything we do as formative of Christian character and wisdom. Of course, none of us foresaw Covid coming but have been reflecting carefully on the new opportunities it gives us to cultivate that character and wisdom. So we’ve installed a lot of new kit but also been developing guides to how we practice creative and small scale acts of hospitality. We’ve been working through how we are going to accommodate and care for each other whether we participate in class or online (by room or by Zoom). We’re praying it’s a year where we learn, in countless ways, the value of attending to others’ needs, bearing with one another and fostering godly patience and trust, in the face of all that lies beyond our control.

In addition, plans are in place for all aspects of College life to happen, such as community worship in Chapel, Fellowship Groups, and church placements.  These things will happen differently, so people are safe and feel safe whether it will be for a limited time frame, socially distanced, in very small groups, online or outside.  But there will still be all these opportunities for students and staff to meet together, to reflect and to grow in the character, competencies and core knowledge and skills needed for ministry in the real world.