The Year That Was: Student Interns on their EDTL Internship Experience
Over the course of the last Academic Year, the EDTL Student Interns have been hard at work both at a national and University level, creating resources and offering guidance that they wish they had access to as a student. As we approach the end of this academic year, the Student Interns reflect on the opportunity to be an EDTL Student Intern and what the role has offered them.
Whether it has been hosting webinars, creating infographics or running an Instagram page aimed at students, it has been quite a year for the EDTL Student Interns. By both contributing to the EDTL Project as a whole as well as work with the individual EDTL team within their universities, all of the student interns were able to make an impact and contribution on both their own university and the wider digital teaching space. Below, some of our students recount their experience over the last year, what they enjoyed most and what they have learned.
Aoibhinn Nic Giolla Mhartain – UCD
I am currently working as the UCD Student Associate Intern on the EDTL project. I have thoroughly enjoyed this role and I think in many ways it has prepared me for my future professional career as I have improved on many important skills such as teamwork, communication and organisation. Ironically, my own digital and IT skills have improved as I have been required to do many things I had never done before such as creating interactive infographics, web pages and online tutorials for students.
Most recently I was involved in co-hosting a webinar ran by the IUA, ‘Inclusivity in Digital Learning: Student Perspectives’. This webinar focused on both the challenges and possibilities that online learning has posed to students with disabilities. Our speakers illustrated ways in which online learning can enhance inclusivity and can help students to overcome various barriers to higher education in the future if these inclusive practices are maintained. This webinar was widely attended and received very positive feedback and hopefully it will have an impact on inclusivity in higher education in a post-Covid learning environment.
My role has involved both projects within UCD and national initiatives with the IUA. I have worked on reviewing the new UCD Virtual Orientation module and I have been responsible for curating digital resources for students to help facilitate the switch to online learning.I have enjoyed the mix of working with both teams within UCD and with people from other universities. Particularly, I have enjoyed getting to know the interns from all of the other universities, even though we have never met in person we have collaborated on a number of enjoyable projects and campaigns. I have become passionate about higher education as a result of my role with the IUA and I am looking forward to see what higher education will look like in a post-Covid environment!
Ben Ryan – TCD
Working as an EDTL Intern has made me realise just how important it is to be engaged with the teaching and learning process. Before the project, I didn’t pay much attention to how a class was delivered, or which assessment types were being used and the subsequent impact this could have on my learning experience. The project has made me realise that I can have a say in directing my learning, whether this is advocating for a certain type of assessment or activities within a lecture.
I have become much more aware of how I and other students find the learning experience of a particular module, what works and what doesn’t. Crucially, I have learned to express these opinions if I or other students are not happy with a particular aspect of module or assessment. The project has also allowed me to encourage other students to do the same. From our Instagram account we have tried to empower students to use their voice and become much more proactive in their learning experience.
The project has also been an excellent example of working productively in an online environment. As Interns from 7 different universities, in various different degrees and stages of our learning, we have managed to successfully create countless presentations, resources and social media posts. I believe the project has really embraced the message it was trying to convey – that digital tools can be an amazing aid for learning and teaching. I have taken many of the skills and tools used in the project into my academic work and will continue to use them well into the future.
Lauren Muldowney – NUIG
When the opportunity arose to become an EDTL student associate intern towards the end of summer, I decided to venture outside my comfort zone and undertake the role for NUIG, a decision I haven’t regretted since. The past academic year has allowed me to learn about the third level education system, the mechanics of teaching and learning and the many layers that go into effecting change. With the help my supportive colleagues at NUIG and wider project team, my role began with a focus on enhancing teaching and learning locally at NUIG. Our initial work was mainly directed towards first year students who started their university careers in a pandemic. As the year flew by, we then began to reflect on how teaching and learning could look in a post-pandemic future.
It’s been an enriching experience to see how other students adapted to online learning. The Student Intern team is made up of students from an array of disciplines and this has been key in getting a wide range of perspectives. Throughout this year, we have worked together on webinars and crafted infographics in a true test of our online collaboration skills.
Some highlights have been gaining exposure to training and opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. From partaking in podcasts, taking a resource from a draft to a finished product and excellent intern training sessions, this academic year has brought a chance to gain knowledge and experience in areas previously unfamiliar to me. Overall, this time has been defined by listening to both fellow students and educators. The educator-student partnership, which was further embedded into the EDTL project this year, has allowed more student voices to be heard, but I’ve also found myself deepening my understanding and empathy for the effort that staff put into delivering university education.
Katharina Kurz – MU
Being a member of the project enabled me to grow in many ways.
Firstly, being an EDTL Team member gave me a sense of purpose in a time marked by uncertainty and a collective sense of despair. I had the chance to actively improve the situation of a rather forced and unexpected shift to online education due to Covid-19. Using my own experience as a student to feed into wider decisions that reach national impact is a truly rewarding experience. Priority 1 on our agenda became quickly clear; how can we make sure that both students and educators get the support they need when necessarily using more digital tools in their teaching and learning? I feel like I joined the project at the right time – when our work was needed the most.
Secondly, having the opportunity to collaborate with so many wonderful people across the Irish Higher Education sector is an invaluable experience. Attending meetings, sharing my ideas, listening to other people’s ideas, and most importantly: them being heard, taken seriously and incorporated allows me to experience my impact immediately. I gained confidence, tranquillity and new ways of answering the question ‘What does higher education in the 21st century mean, and for who?’
Thirdly, being part of both a smaller Maynooth specific group, and at the same time at a wider national group, plus another social media group as I mentioned earlier, let me improve my already existing passions as a mediator, creative member, organiser and communicator. I developed an understanding of how teamwork online works best. Further, I learned how to plan and chair meetings and how to organise and host webinars.
Fourthly, I am part of the team that runs the EDTL Instagram account. Through my involvement and collaboration with other brilliant interns, I’ve acquired valuable graphic design and video editing skills, together with hands-on-experience as a social media content creator. Besides, which is one of my favourite takeaways from my time as an intern, I saw other team members in their unique strengths and talents flourish. The most rewarding experience is to witness the creation of a shared space (despite it being online) that allows all our unique strengths, skills and interests to grow and shine.
Alice Hynes – UL
My involvement in the EDTL Project has opened an avenue of opportunities for me, something I never expected when I took the role last September. Through interaction with my colleagues, designing and planning social media campaigns, and from presenting at numerous webinars and conferences my confidence in my presentation skills and my own opinions has grown enormously. This semester I ran for the Academic Officer position in UL and was successfully elected. Although the challenge saw me stepping well outside my comfort zone, I also have the EDTL Project to thank for giving me the foundation to build upon.
The University of Limerick ran the #Take1Step digital skills programme this semester. I was asked to present a couple of workshops on Microsoft Word and Excel, which I must admit was a daunting idea at first. However, after careful planning and lots of support from the team in UL my confidence grew, and the sessions ran very successfully. There were over 100 students in my first Excel session, making it one of the biggest in the whole three-week programme, so it was an exceptional learning experience for me as well.
The only downside to this project has been the fact that I never had the chance to meet my fellow interns and the EDTL projects leads in person. If our Friday meetings are any indication, I’m sure we would have got on like a house on fire. Our meetings always involve a good laugh and provide an opportunity to rant to someone in a similar situation about our frustrations as students. We found a lot in common and had many shared experiences to laugh about.
Michaela Waters – MU
Being an Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning Student Associate Intern in Maynooth University has been an amazing experience so far.
I have enjoyed working alongside the entire EDTL team. Throughout the course of our work so far, we have collaborated and engaged in many discussions and activities that I would have never had the chance to do before! Examples include presenting our work to Maynooth University Staff, presenting in modules related to online teaching, holding regular meetings of our Maynooth University and Maynooth Student’s Union Student-Staff Working Group and much more!
This experience has enabled me to develop many skills, including organization, critical thinking, communication through building connections and, most relevant to the project, my digital skills. This includes using WordPress through creating Maynooth University resources and guides for assessment types on the Critical Skills website and collaborating remotely with a number of individuals. I have also learned about many platforms, software and online tools that can be used while teaching and learning online.
Another important part of my work as an EDTL Intern has been participating in the EDTL Instagram account. Being in charge of the Instagram’s schedule, along with other team members has been an incredible experience. We have met regularly to plan our posts and discuss ideas for future campaigns. We have created social media campaigns, resources for students, images and videos for the Instagram page. I am proud that EDTL’s Social Media is student-facing and created and managed by students.
It is amazing to me that us EDTL Student Interns have not met in person, and even though we had not met before this project, we have collaborated excellently and created friendships through our work as EDTL Interns. I can safely say, our team members have made this the best group project I have ever been in!
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