Imperial College London is a world-class university with a mission to benefit society through excellence in science, engineering, medicine and business.
Dating back to the Royal College of Chemistry’s foundation in 1845, Imperial College was established by Royal Charter in 1907. Today, it attracts a student population from around the world to its South Kensington campus, but when COVID-19 struck the college’s ability to gather people together was suddenly curtailed.
Responding to the crisis
“When COVID struck, briefly there was a hiatus: no instant feedback, no group work, no networking,” says Liz Chiu, Senior Teacher of English for Academic Purpose at Imperial College. “That was the challenge we faced.”
However, the college had already begun using Microsoft Teams prior to the pandemic. This decision proved crucial to the brevity of the hiatus the staff and students experienced. Imperial already had “a base to leap off”, as Dr. Paul Franklyn, Principal Teaching Fellow at the Faculty of Engineering, Department of Materials explains.
“We had established the use of Microsoft Teams in our cohorts already to try to improve the interaction between lecturers and the students… so it was a quick readjusting.”
Connecting and engaging across the globe virtually
Liz Chiu continues, “It’s a penny-drop moment where the teachers suddenly realise this is actually giving us opportunities to respond to students in a way that we’ve never been able to do before.”
The college is now relying on Microsoft Teams for the delivery of its lectures and its remote labs, as well as a “virtual common room” where students and faculty can interact. In particular, staff love the fluid integration of shared files, scheduled events and the student’s use of the virtual learning environment.
‘We are now relying on Microsoft Teams for the delivery of all lectures, for the delivery of all remote labs. Right now as we speak we have students dialled in all the way from China, right across the globe round to America.” Dr Paul Franklyn Principal Teaching Fellow and Senior Tutor in Materials.
The way forward
The college responded quickly to the crisis, extending its use of Microsoft Teams to successfully support its students to continue their learning – wherever they happened to be around the world.
Adrian Mannall, Microsoft Cloud Tenancy Lead and Microsoft Supplier Relationship Manager, ICT at Imperial College says, “Microsoft Teams is really the way forward. It allows us to work and to teach in multiple modes.”