#2: Trinity was awarded a grant to purchase new video conferencing technology to enhance our PGR seminars.
Research students local to Bristol come to Trinity fortnightly for discussions on assigned texts as well as for papers by visiting scholars, faculty members, and the students themselves.
In January 2017, our postgraduate research programme began utilising a new video conferencing suite, allowing distance students to call into the seminar and see, hear, and participate nearly as fully as local students. During that first session, students called in from the US (Tennessee, Texas, Colorado, and Kentucky), Spain, South Korea, as well as from within the UK (Devon and Wiltshire) to discuss a text by theologian Nathan Kerr together.
‘The new video conferencing system is a massive improvement in my experience as a distance student,’ says doctoral student Andrew Stager, who regularly calls in from South Korea. ‘It’s the next best thing to being in the room with those present in Bristol. I’m very thankful the college has focused on this educational technology.’
American doctoral student Joshua Heavin agrees. He had felt some of the difficulties of studying from a distance and wished for more community engagement. ‘I was greatly relieved when I heard that new technology was being procured, and since it has been put in place I have never had an issue with it. It has greatly improved my experience of the programme, especially as it allows all of the distance students to meet and converse together. The postgraduate research seminars have been wonderful, offering distance students the chance to participate in interdisciplinary conversations and learn from our professors and one another.’
The new video conferencing capabilities have improved the seminar for those attending in person as well. ‘I like hearing perspectives from international students,’ says British doctoral student Anna Creedon. ‘It’s amazing how good the quality of the system is. There’s no delay—the picture and sound are so clear in talking to them—you feel as though they are right there.’