Meet the BILT Community, Student Fellow Reflections, Student Voice

Meet the Student Fellows… Ellen Graves

Hi! My name is Ellen, and I am one of six new Student Fellows this year. I will be focusing on the theme of blended learning and online community, and I am excited to bring some of my ideas and thoughts to the role as well as learn a lot from other students and staff!

I have just started studying an MSc in Gender and International Relations which I am loving, despite a LOT of reading already. This will be my fifth year at the University of Bristol, as I did my undergraduate degree in Politics and French at Bristol with study abroad in Toulouse (which was sadly interrupted by COVID) so I feel quite well versed in all things Bristol. Even still, after an unusual and unpredictable couple of years, this year does feel very different already, and it is so exciting to be able to be back on campus – I forgot how much I missed it!

I love being in such a green and vibrant city like Bristol – there is always so much going on, with lovely shops and cafes, lots of lovely places to go on walks, and what feels like a festival for everything under the sun. Having said that, being from Newcastle, I don’t think I will ever get used to £5 pints, long ‘a’s, and there not being a Greggs round every corner. When I am not in the library or exploring Bristol, I really like spending time with my friends in a pub or a café, or if it’s been a long day (and sometimes when it hasn’t) curling up in bed with a good book or trashy tv series.

One of my favourite things about being at university is, I guess to state the obvious just a bit, how much you learn – but for me its especially about how much you learn from other students and from the environment we are in. What I have learned in the past four years is not just academic, but also personal and social. It hasn’t just been learnt in the lecture theatre or seminar room but from being in a student community – by being on campus, joining societies, reading student newspapers, chatting with people after a seminar and in so many other ways. It’s a rich and enriching experience, where what you learn academically can inform your life outside the classroom, and vice versa. This is something I really missed last year and was difficult to get from online seminars and socials on zoom. As the student fellow for blended learning and online community, I want to focus on innovative ways that we as students can have this rich learning environment and student experience even when some aspects of university life remain online, and in a way that is accessible for everyone. I am looking forward to learning from students and experts to better understand ways to improve student engagement online. I am also excited to explore how online learning can even further enrich and improve student experience post-COVID. I want to identify some ‘COVID keeps’ – new forms of teaching and ways of building community that we have developed in the past year which can be integrated into what our learning and community looked like pre-COVID in order to enhance students’ experiences of teaching and learning.

I am very grateful for this opportunity to hear student perspectives and help students to share their voices in improving and enriching their experiences of teaching and learning, especially of blended learning and online community. I can’t wait to get started!

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