The Arden Q&A

Rob Owen, Head of The Arden

The Arden School of Theatre and Performing Arts, part of UCEN Manchester, is continuing to support its students despite closing its doors to classroom-based learning due to the Coronavirus.

Rob Owen, Head of The Arden, explains the measures that have been put in place and how the show must go on.

How have you been supporting students either with teaching or pastoral support?

We managed to get most of our practical assessed work for this term finished - some streamed live on Facebook from behind closed doors. We have since moved teaching online and are experimenting with a variety of formats to find the best solutions for our students.

Our student experience team has been checking in with their allocated students by phone, and Heads of Year and Course Leaders have been holding daily check-ins with their tutor groups.

What platforms are being used?

We use Microsoft Teams as our virtual learning environment (VLE), and are now using Zoom technology to present to large groups as well as a variety of YouTube resources.  We are lucky that the majority of our back-end software is online based so nothing has had to change.

What are the advantages of working this way?

Working remotely has shown us the benefits of using technology within a creative environment and we have discovered practices that might well have missed.

Many of our students are already familiar with the new technologies and this situation has encouraged staff to embrace it.

Also, meetings and classes become more focused, because there are less distractions and the objectives become a lot clearer.   

What are the challenges?

The most obvious challenge is adapting to the limitations of the technology available to us. Things will never be truly ‘real-time’ and since our teaching environment is primarily face-to-face with instantaneous feedback, our teaching has to adapt.

How can students get the most from learning remotely?

Students should maintain their daily routine and engage with everything as if they were there in person.

For future students, or those continuing their studies with us past the summer term, they should continue to work hard at all of their skills and also focus on what they can control in this situation, such as their fitness and techniques. They can also embrace the online resources available and continue to engage with their subject as much as possible.

Find out more about how UCEN Manchester is supporting students with the #inthistogether campaign.