Working from home has become the norm for most of the UK due to COVID-19, and we’ve all had to adjust to not being able to work from, well work. Universities need students and one of the main ways we recruit students is by holding Open Days. But you can’t do an Open Day if there’s no access to campus, right? At Staffordshire University we disagree. As soon as we knew that an in-person Open Day wasn’t going to be possible, we began transitioning to a Virtual Open Day. This was two weeks ago.
At Staffordshire University London, a satellite campus based in East London, we were fortunate to be the third campus to host our Open Day (behind the Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent campuses.) The problem we had was that the shutdown of the campus was imminent, and the situation was changing quickly. We were set the task of fleshing out the Open Day on a Monday, and the campus was, unbeknownst to us until that afternoon, to close on that Thursday. I knew we had to plan, film, and collect all the content as soon as possible before the inevitable happened.
At Staffs Uni London, all our courses are practical, which means that without the specialist equipment, it’s hard to showcase the extent of what we do for our students. Our students have access to state-of-the-art computers, an Esports Arena with cameras, vision mixers, and RGB lighting. Luckily I work with a fantastic team, who pulled through and have prepared everything we needed for the Virtual Open Day. Before joining the university, I was a freelance videographer, so I was tasked to create videos to best showcase the facilities we have. Filming all the specialist equipment and facilities was my priority. After all, I couldn’t take our Esports Arena home with me.
I jumped into action and wrote outlines for all the videos we needed; This included a campus tour to show off our fantastic facilities, a video to show off the specialised tech in the Esports Arena and student interviews. It was important to get the students’ voices across, as ultimately, we want to show our applicants the type of experiences they can gain from studying at Staffs Uni London. We shot all the videos over a day and a half, which is a truncated schedule — usually a project like this would take a minimum of a week to plan and shoot. It’s a testament to each person in front of the camera who stepped up and helped the process go smoothly. It was the day after we had completed shooting that we got the order to close the campus. It was a close call.
Once I was working from home, I could edit the videos using my set-up (Macbook Pro using Final Cut Pro X.) I felt comfortable that I’d shot everything I needed, and the editing process went smoothly. It took me four days to edit all the videos, and on the 4th April 2020, they went live for our Virtual Open Day.
The whole of the Virtual Open Day preparation is a testament to how well the staff at Staffs Uni London work together. We’re a small team that can move fast and get initiatives off the ground quickly. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without the support we get from the Stoke campus. We’ve been working remotely with our counterparts in Stoke since we opened in September 2019, most of my colleagues are based on the main campus including technical specialists colleagues, management, and Digital services. We’ve been using Microsoft Teams and other communications platforms since the start to conduct meetings and troubleshoot, so this has helped the transition from purely working from home.
Because of how well we all worked together, I was confident that Virtual Open Day would run smoothly and I can’t wait for prospective students to see the facilities and services we can offer. And once we get back to a semblance of normality in the world, I hope it will inspire them to visit the campus once we’re open again.
Edited by Marshall Hitipeuw.