Student Perspectives on the Move to Online

What was it like for international students studying online in 20/21?

In the 5th Centre for Innovation in Pedagogy’s (CIP) biennial workshop, the results of a year-long research project on student engagement were explored, along with presentations on Peer To Peer Engagement and The Outcome Effects Of Nudged Engagement.  Across the workshop panels students reported their views on what it was like for them to study online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The students’ unfiltered opinions, in the video below, cover a wide range of subjects, from having to manage expectations of what they had anticipated University life would have been like in Manchester, to sharing concerns related to never having sat in on a live lecture nor communicated directly with classmates or other academics. They discussed not having had the chance to improve in their English skills through general, everyday interactions, and expressed disappointment at not being able to go out on field trips. Zoom fatigue, wi-fi issues, managing schedules and problems with break-out rooms were touched upon, along with them highlighting positives such as interactions within WhatsApp groups, seizing opportunities to volunteer and participate in societies, their appreciation of Spark pages, and how the new way of dealing with exams has reduced some level of anxiety.

It’s very much worth a full watch:

And here’s the word cloud!

Evaluation / Student Feedback

The uniqueness of this year has been tiring and overwhelming, and attention will need to be paid to the emotional toll that a year of online learning may cause.  Motivation towards studying has been impacted, however, in other cases personal resilience has grown.  There is a strong desire to meet up in person, in real life, to have a normal life with normal activities and they are looking forward to a return of face to face teaching. 


The smooth transition to online has been appreciated, as well as developing skills to work at one’s own pace, and especially having the option to re-watch lectures as many times as desired.  The whole University has come to their houses, rather than their having to go themselves to University.

Top Tips

Students welcomed Spark pages, shorter video recordings, live tutorials, and good management of zoom break-out rooms.


Please visit the 5th  Biennial CIP workshop to view student presentations on the findings of a year-long student engagement project, along with presentations on peer-to-peer engagement and the outcome effects of nudged engagement: 


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Students: Srijan Vasireddy, Ramzan Albakov, Emma Riener, Mahima Jethani, Tanishka Raaz, Vaibhav Kumar

Academic: introduced by Paul Middleditch, School of Social Sciences (SoSS)

School & Discipline: various including Economics & Politics, Environmental Management

Themes: international students, learning online, student engagement

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