Published: 31 August 2021

Sharing online learning experiences

At the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences education away day in Semester 2 of the 2020/21 academic year, our biosciences, health sciences, and veterinary medicine students shared their thoughts on their online learning experiences during lockdown. The sessions focused on online learning, where students presented and highlighted specific challenges they faced when they moved to remote learning in March 2020. Staff and students discussed how to overcome these as effectively as possible.


“Hey, I’m Samantha and I’m a fourth-year biomedical science student. In biosciences, Dr Rita Jabr uses interactive content like quizzes, to engage with us like her in-person seminars. Rita really gets across her passion for the topics through her animated personality, which translates to her live sessions. All of this brings the content to life, something that you couldn’t get from just reading slides.

“In nutrition modules, Dr Adam Collins has been drawing diagrams to explain metabolic pathways in a way that makes them easy to understand. This is definitely a lot easier than reading about it in a textbook.”


“Hi, I’m Joshua and I’m a first-year adult nursing student. Since starting online learning, I prefer having live online lectures, rather than watching pre-recorded ones. These are a lot more engaging and help me and make me feel more routine.

“In my mental health nursing modules, Laurence Drew uses humour, bringing his personality into his teaching, through jokes and references to films and TV shows. This makes you feel at ease and shows he really understands the audience he’s speaking to. At the beginning of every session, he introduces himself and is always available to ask questions to.

“He regularly uses video clips, live sessions and quizzes, supporting this with recorded content, giving a nice variety of ways to learn. He’s also set up an online pinboard to share interesting resources – there’s something for everybody! Laurence has managed to transport his personality online in such a seamless way and the effort he’s put in hasn’t gone unnoticed. He’s made what is quite an isolating time, entertaining.”

"Simon Downs has been using clips from TV shows, like Breaking Bad, as case studies, so we can think and discuss how we would approach our patients."

Paramedic science

“Hello, my name is Amy and I’m a second-year paramedic science student. Since moving to online learning, Simon Downs has been using video clips from popular TV shows, like Breaking Bad, as case studies, so we can think and discuss how we would approach our patients. This is a lot more engaging than reading out written scenarios and is a great reflection of how we would learn on placement.

“I also love how Helen Sherriff structures our SurreyLearn content into weeks and breaks this down into lectures and presentations, further reading and podcasts, finishing with a live session. This is a really great way to plan my weeks and has made me feel like I’m on top of everything, rather than being overwhelmed.”

Veterinary medicine

“Hi, I’m Cara-May and I’m studying veterinary medicine and science. My course has lots of practical sessions that we normally do in-person but lecturers like Melanie Blevins are doing these virtually, through SurreyLearn. What I like about Melanie’s approach are her clear instructions, explaining what is expected of us and how the sessions will run. She uses a using a combination of videos and journal articles to explain complicated surgeries, that would be a lot harder to understand by reading alone. There are also opportunities to ask questions at set times in the discussion forums, helping to consolidate our learning.”

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