GradVantage Placement: Reflections, by Monjur Miah, Summer 2021
This reflective blog will use a combination of Graham Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle (1988), including the role of feelings and Schön’s Reflection before, during and after a learning process. 
Description What happened?
Working as a Learning Spaces Project Officer within LEaD Digital Education, I was responsible for beginning an audit of learning and teaching spaces and updating room information and multimedia resources on the City website. I secured this internship through GradVantage, a fantastic employability programme for final year students to transition from university to the workplace and apply for exciting exclusive professional work placements.
Feelings What were you thinking and feeling?
I was most excited about visiting the Northampton Square campus since lectures and tutorials hosted on MS Teams swiftly became part of my academic routine when national lockdown began in March 2020. Fast-forward 16 months later to my graduate placement, I only ever saw a small number of students and staff on campus. It felt eerily absent of the usual pre-COVID-19 scenes of students walking across the main walkway, socialising in the Law Common Room or rushing off to classes in B200.
Evaluation What was good and bad about the experience?
I enjoyed working closely with a range of staff across Schools and Departments when managing student focus groups about educational technology and flexible learning spaces to enhance student and staff support systems across the university.
During my placement, it dawned upon me my expectations for the work I hoped to complete should have been adjusted. Before placement commencement, hoping to audit and update 150+ learning spaces pages on the City website for lecture theatres, teaching rooms, PC labs in a month-long placement was infeasible. Subsequently, I decided to focus my attention on each task as they arrived according to service objectives and priorities when planning and organising staff and student responses, for example. In retrospect, there was a considerable amount of work accomplished in just one month. For instance, this included GDPR training, student and staff focus groups, B200 learning spaces audit, activities for Student Digital Assistants, training and development opportunities on digital accessibility, Digital Education meetings, CityConnects Summer Skills programme and the prototype B200 room information page. Usually, I feel disheartened when I embark on a task and leave it unfinished I have learnt during this experience to be content with starting a project and not finishing it for it to be in the safe hands of the LEaD Digital Education team.
Analysis What sense can you make of the situation?
I conducted a report by working closely with a colleague from City Volunteering who held several years of experience using the room information pages we were renovating. I thought it wise to record his contributions. He focused on accessibility, searchability and connectivity as central objectives whilst page content and layout changes should be secondary. This feedback realigned our efforts from the ‘what is the current problem?’ approach to ‘what could we do to resolve these issues?’. Henceforth, this meant that any learning spaces project developments would be directly responsive to the needs of students and a range of central and School staff to enhance the support of students across the institution.
Conclusion What else could you have done?
I considered working closely and collating feedback and responses from staff when I began the project would have been a better step instead of integrating it as we went along with the project. This proactive approach would have identified who and what is required to ensure success, goal planning, responsibility areas and continual workload assessments to support colleagues where tasks prove challenging at the very start.
Action Plan If it arose again what would you do?
I would plan and consider what challenges I might encounter during this experience and ask myself: ‘what do I need to know or do to be best prepared for these experiences?’.
 Gibbs, G (1988). Learning by doing: a guide to teaching and learning methods. Oxford: Further Education Unit, Oxford Polytechnic; Schön, D (1983). The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.