The beginning of the new semester approaches rapidly. This academic year I am programme leader and actually have four programmes to look after. That’s not quite as much as it sounds: one is brand new this year and is replacing another, which therefore only has two cohorts on it and one programme is only in its second year, so in fact my four are only actually 2.66.
These are what are now being referred to as the Creative Suite within the School of HuLSS (Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences) and include Drama and Creative Writing (DRAW), English and Drama (that’s the new one!), English, Drama and Performance Studies (EDPS) and English and Creative Writing (WREN).
So far, I’m enjoying the role. There are a lot of new initiatives at the moment and its exciting overseeing those changes. We have a new version of our VLE, Blackboard 9, and though there are teething troubles with it and we all need to get used to it, it will eventually be so much better than our old one, Blackboard 8.
What does make me nervous is Induction week. This is when we meet our first year students. I have to address the whole cohort twice. That could be as many as 70 students, though is more likely to be around 50. We never know the exact number by the beginning of the first week and this year has been a particularly tricky one with the massive rise in tuition fees and several students who had been offered places not getting the desired results. These first meetings are all important, though. The students get their first impressions of the university from these.
I am very much looking forward to the breakfast we give them on the second day. Here they can meet all of their teachers informally. Then they meet me more formally and I go through some of the practical, technical things; how important the VLE is, the difference between a lecture and a seminar, how to approach staff, expectation of attendance, electronic submission, feed-back, how university is different from school, how assessment works and about the exchange they might do in their second year.
The second meeting will be more fun. We’ll be giving the students a taster of how classes might work. This is a challenge as I will have there some students who are less interested in performance and some who are less interested in writing, but I’m intending to do an ice-breaker, a creative writing exercise and a performance exercise. It is so essential to get this right.
Wish me luck.