A GROUP of colleges, including Malvern Hills College, have ran virtual open events during the Coronavirus lockdown and attracted around 25,000 views.
The online platforms are being used to showcase the WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group) for prospective students.
Because of the success of the concept, the college group is continuing its virtual tours and tutor videos to enable students to find out about courses remotely.
WCG, one of the first colleges in the UK to use the Google G Suite to enhance learning provision, has also been at the forefront of delivering online learning during lockdown, with many tutors taking an innovative approach to teaching remotely.
As well as Malvern Hills, other colleges across Worcestershire and Warwickshire include Moreton Morrell College, Evesham College, Pershore College, Royal Leamington Spa College, Rugby College and Warwick Trident College.
Viewers were also able to post questions online with WCG tutors and staff responding live as they would at a physical event.
The plan is for the new online approach to open events to run alongside physical open events, giving students the ability to access the same information without the need to visit the colleges in person.
The next main open events for WCG are due in November, with open events for higher education courses scheduled for the following September – all events will be subject to government guidance relating to Covid-19.
Mark Whittaker, WCG’s head of marketing, said: “We were due to run seven open events in March and were able to quickly move them online as we had anticipated the lockdown. We were probably the first college to run a virtual open event because we were ahead in our technology usage.
“They went well given the very short amount of time we had to turn them around and we decided to build on them with another set of virtual open events in June as whilst we don’t normally hold them then, we do normally have schoolchildren in for discovery days.
“The big difference with the June events was that every department head at all of the colleges recorded their own video.
“We recorded a virtual tour of Moreton Morrell College as due to the nature of the campus, it needs to be seen.
“The viewing figures of around 25,000, with the virtual tour of Moreton Morrell gaining the largest audience, exceeded our expectations.
“We had higher viewing figures for the March events than we would have had through the door, and both sets of events are continuing to generate student applications.
“It’s been a very positive experience for us in terms of pushing us to develop more of an online audience for things like events. We have always been innovative in our use of online platforms and this is something we will take forward beyond lockdown.”
WCG has been delivering online learning since the start of lockdown, which has been enhanced by being a Google G Suite college group.
Angela Joyce, CEO of WCG, said: “As we were already a Google college, it was a seamless transition to online learning and has been a great success.
“We have maintained our level of student attendance and in fact in certain subject areas, we have seen it increase.
“Students have been able to maintain contact with their tutors through virtual face-to-face lessons which have been taking place via Google Hang Out, including technical demonstrations, and learning activities via Google Classroom.
“That is testament to our use of technology but also the measures we put in place and of course, the tremendous efforts of our staff and students. In a survey, 98 per cent of students praised our online delivery during the pandemic, although they also said they are keen to get back into College!
“We have been at the forefront of delivering education and open events remotely during lockdown, and will continue to develop our use of technology for the benefit of WCG as a whole.”
To find out more about WCG and future open events at its seven colleges, visit www.wcg.ac.uk