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Welcome video

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Edited by Annie Storkey, Friday, 1 Oct 2021, 12:51

Today’s reflection is on how I welcome students. I’ve always sent out fairly lengthy welcome letters which include a biography, details on tutorials and forums, and how to stay in contact. These are necessarily sent addressed to ‘student’ not individually named students as I use the university group mail system to send emails to nearly 100 students. I also send out individually named emails to disabled students, enquiring about their needs and offering support. This can be time consuming as up to a third of my students might have a disability but I think it is worthwhile as establishing early positive contact is good for relationship building and addressing any challenges early is beneficial. I wanted to build on my general welcome messaging this year and decided a welcome message in Adobe Connect might be the way to go so that students might be able to hear and see me at the beginning of the module. So I planned and delivered 10 minute welcome videos for my K219 and K220 groups (KE322 have a welcome tutorial already timetabled in). The videos included an overview of the module and website, staying mentally healthy during studies and study skills tips.

I found the process strangely anxiety-inducing, considering I am an experienced online lecturer, but I guess that is my bipolar talking as it dislikes new experiences. I needed 2 takes of my first video due to not enabling my mic (a hazard of presenting by yourself without an audience). What I did discover in that first take is that I hated the webcam and found it distracting; I am an animated speaker and my head bobbing around was not helpful. But once I got rid of the webcam all went well, though I stumbled over a few words at the beginning. I think it was a worthwhile addition to my ‘welcome’ -  and I have already had some positive feedback. It also won’t be too time consuming to repeat in future presentations. I really didn’t like the webcam though and didn’t find it helpful.

Going forward, I will be repeating the video on future presentations as I think it is an easy thing to incorporate into my ‘welcome’ and beneficial for relationship building. I now have a greater idea of what works for me and that means no webcam. On some of my tutorials I have a photo of me on one of my introductory slides and in future presentations I will add this to my 'welcome' slides.


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Don't shoot - I'm disabled

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Edited by Annie Storkey, Friday, 12 Jun 2020, 12:11
I had intended my first blog of the academic year to be about the trials and tribulations of being an AL, preparing for new modules and incoming students and then having your pc die a sudden death during an online meeting on the first day back (agonising enough for anyone but especially for a manic depressive who keeps her anxiety at bay by having an impeccably structured life unhindered by nasty surprises). But today I read an article on the BBC was website which moved me deeply and I felt I had to write on that instead.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-45739335 This article is both shocking and very, very sad. These people who died were unarmed and not committing any crime; one was naked in his shower. What they all have in common is lack of communication, some of them had learning difficulties or mental health challenges which meant they did not understand the commands they were given, one of them was deaf. 

Hey, wait, let me back track a little. It wasn't these communication difficulties which caused their deaths but the poor communication skills of the police.

This is not a blog on guns or police policy in the US, I value my sanity far too much for those discussions. But these police officers seemed to go into situations using aggression from the outset, shouting at the person even in the situations when they knew the person was disabled. Were they not taught any communications skills during their training? Do they act like this in their everyday lives? Do they not know anyone disabled: do they fear them or think them sub-human?

I've had bipolar disorder for 20 years and know lots of other people with the same condition. If someone is in a manic state, aggression will just heighten it and stress can be a big trigger. Manic depressives can also have problems processing instruction so even if they are listening to you they still might not have the foggiest what you want them to do. Similar issues happen with other mental health issues. But this goes far beyond disability, it seems that some people in authority think aggression is an acceptable way to carry out their job and that challenges can be met with violence. There needs to be far greater education on understanding the needs and experiences of people with disabilities, especially mental health and learning disabilities, and the communication skills needed to communicate effectively with them. But these are skills which will benefit all people, they are basic rules for engaging others in all walks of life in a respectful way. We need to resist a culture which thinks 'shoot first, ask questions later'. A little empathy will go a long way


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