Gabrielle Humphreys, Psychology, University of Liverpool, (2019 Cohort)
Originally when lockdown hit I decided to wait it out before completing training courses. I have always learned better in person than through videos. Because of this, I debated whether an online training course would be worth their typically high prices in this format, and, I can’t lie, was a little bit miffed about the lack of a day out with complimentary biscuits and a buffet-style lunch.
As I slowly realised that this was in fact not just a three week ‘circuit breaker’ I weighed up how stubborn I was being and decided to put my faith in technology; confirming my attendance on a course which had been in my calendar for months that had switched to an online format. This was one of UCL’s summer schools which focussed on behaviour change principles and practice – a topic very closely linked to my PhD in developing online addiction interventions. To my delight, UCL had their own platform named eXtend. This acted as a virtual learning environment which hosted live, interactive lectures and seminars, as well as Q&A sessions and social events, that were tightly schedules over a week.
The next course I did started at the beginning of February, and was funded from the NWSSDTP Research Training Support Grant. This was about applying intuitive and non-discriminatory approaches in practice in regard to eating – an addictive behaviour which I look at within my research. It was delivered by London Centre for Intuitive Eating, as two separate courses which followed on from each other; Advanced Counselling Skills and Nutrition Counselling in Practice. This course was also fully online, gasp. It consisted of pre-recorded lectures and resources that were provided on their Learn With LCIE web page, as well as a live Q&A at the end of each month’s module on a private Facebook group for alumni.
So, now onto my thoughts, or should I say, reasons I may have been wrong about online training courses.
Both were effective, well organised and despite my lack of enthusiasm over the format, I was really impressed. Dare I say it, I am actually thankful that they were online because I was able to pause videos full of information and actually make legible notes, rather than my usual in-the-moment scrawls of acronyms.
One of my courses was timetabled, however, another was completely flexible in timing. This meant that I could also pick when to stream these lectures which was actually a blessing in disguise. As I’m sure you’ll all know, however well organised you are, the timing of PhD can be unpredictable. You may successfully allocate a quiet week to do a training course. Although, you may also end up with an extensive to do list before Monday’s introductory talk. Similarly, I was able to weave my LCIE course into my normal work, meaning I didn’t have to take off a block of time and could avoid a build-up of post-course tasks.
Other things I noticed is that I was probably just as sociable, if not more, in these online sessions. Networking is often a silver lining in these events but due to small breakout rooms, social events, and the discomfort I feel when a group meeting is silent, I certainly did this. I’ve kept in contact with many people from both these courses, forming useful business connections, as well as friendships. Plus, I got to do this in my softest trousers and pink, fluffy rabbit slippers.
If you can’t tell already, I very much enjoyed these courses and if, like I was, you’re sceptical over online courses, I think that you should give them a go!