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Ambassador Blog: Building an Online Community

Psychology ambassador Ellie explains how she helped put together a network for her fellow students during lockdown.

Ambassador Blog Building an Online Community Image 1200x450 - Cartoon of one woman holding an umbrella over another through smart phone screens

At the beginning of the pandemic last year, I was in my first year and halfway through my second semester. It was a worrying time for everyone and there was a lot of uncertainty on what online learning would be like. I’d been a Student Academic Leader (now known as a Course Rep) throughout the year, and it was quite easy chatting to my peers outside the lecture halls gathering feedback, but when online learning commenced, this was very difficult to do. Suddenly all of the Psychology students were essentially non-contactable and unless you’d added somebody on Snapchat or WhatsApp, collecting feedback was nearly impossible.

The lack of communication with peers made a lot of students feel isolated, not having that comradery with other students who were in the same boat and struggling with assessments - particularly as we were in the middle of completing our statistics quizzes and chapters. It was difficult, which is why I felt that building an online community would be beneficial to help people feel connected again.

Psychology Courses

 

It started with a Facebook page where Level 4 Psychology students could ask questions and provide peer support. However, monitoring this page became difficult and there was a request for more academic support. Therefore, the year tutor, myself and a few other course reps began developing a Teams group with channels that supported students with different interests. We also began developing a Spotify playlist and a Netflix watchlist.

Over the summer communication died down a bit, and everyone forgot about Uni for a while. It wasn’t until January when Uni went online again that discussions started for a second community for all levels and courses within the Psychology department. I’m now School Rep for Single (Hons) Psychology, and it’s been amazing working with the course reps from level 4, 5 and 6 to create a thriving and consistently active online community.

There’s so much going on within the community, and there are extensions of it on Discord and WhatsApp. Psychology Lecturers are getting involved, organising external speakers, yoga sessions, a film club, and a journal article club. Course Reps are organising activities such as game nights, workout sessions and study sessions. So, there’s an incredible sense of togetherness within the Psychology department at the moment, and it’s a great opportunity to gather feedback and talk to students directly about how they’re finding things in an informal environment.

I hope this is something that continues within Psychology and by reading this it inspires other courses to create their own community.  

Want to read more about our student experiences in the School of Social Sciences? Find their stories in our "I AM BCU" section.

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