Six weeks ago, we welcomed Jodi Hyndman as a Robertson Trust Intern at CDN, and within that time she has analysed a selection of College Awards 2021 submissions, turning them into Case Studies to help promote the great work of the sector. Jodi has been a pleasure to work with and demonstrated a shared passion in the world of Research. Below Jodi shares her experience at CDN and patterns that emerged from her work.

Whilst interning at CDN, I have been working with CDN’s Research and Enhancement team for six weeks, picking out submissions from the 2021 CDN College Awards to create case studies to amplify the work of colleges within the past year or so. Going into my fourth and final year of university studying history, I have always loved the research aspects of my degree and thus the internship was a perfect fit for me. After working in the Research Centre for the past 6 weeks, I have met so many new people and had interesting conversations about the college sector. As a student myself, I have only witnessed surface-level events such as the annual union elections during my time through university – having never been a class representative or involved in the student union. Yet through this placement I have discovered parts of the institutions’ inner workings and the effort that goes into this.

This experience has completely changed my outlook on colleges as a whole. Whilst I have friends that have attended to college, I had no idea about college’s emphasis on community and the different types of support colleges offered. For example, I discovered that South Lanarkshire College has been allowing their students to remain on campus from NQs to finishing off their degrees – a feat I did not know was possible, as I believed college students had to move onto university to gain a degree.

Dundee and Angus College – Turning period poverty into period positivity

During my time at CDN, I found patterns relating to sustainability, which will be more relevant than ever due to COP26, partnerships between colleges and companies within their communities, and a heavy emphasis on innovative adjustments to remote learning due to the pandemic. Partnerships were often key in making projects a reality – be it between different colleges, or between a college and a company. It was impressive to me that the college sector continued to create out-of-the-box solutions during the scramble within the lockdowns in 2020-21. For example, my first case study investigated Dundee and Angus’ period positivity scheme in which they had created workshops educating people on period poverty and hosted online sewing classes to promote sustainable menstrual products, sending out equipment to participants free-of-charge so they could learn valuable skills.

Whilst online learning was a large hurdle to overcome for all students, I discovered that colleges made innovative solutions to combat this using VR. Edinburgh College made use of VR technology to create the Wonder Land project, in which software was used to design a theatre for sound and lighting students to improve their practical skills despite being unable to attend classes on campus, and Fife College created a similar project in which VR is used to test student’s reactions to real life situations when using first aid skills. These are just some examples out of many in which colleges in Scotland have gone above and beyond.

Lastly, I’d like to thank the people who took the time to work with me during my internship. Thank you to Gordon, who supervised me, made sure I never felt isolated and connected me with all sorts of people during my time here, and overall was just amazing to work with, Vicky for giving me advice on some case studies, Lauren and Wendy for their help on connecting me with their contacts in different colleges, and all of those who I got to talk to during my time here. The weeks have absolutely flown in, and I have had a wonderful time at CDN!!

We wish Jodi the best of luck for her future, and thank her for all her hard work. We’d also like to thank The Robertson Trust for funding Jodi’s internship and for their support for our colleges. Further College Case Studies generated from Jodi’s work will be published in the coming weeks. Watch this space…

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