Learning glass and self-recording booths: Covid-19’s unexpected benefits

Kumail Tayyebkhan
Kumail Tayyebkhan

In online learning we’re aware it’s important to convey an academic presence as it helps with student engagement and persistence. One of the ways we achieve this is through video – we know that our students value seeing the academics involved in their learning, and this means that our recording studio space is a vital resource for us and ultimately our students.  Kumail, one of our video producers, talks about how Covid-19 brought some surprising improvements to our studio facilities.

In the time before Covid-19

We used to work in a dark, windowless, basement corner of Stewart House on Russell Square, filming and editing on an industrial scale. Hundreds of academics came in to be filmed and, in turn, we created thousands of lectures, animations and educational videos for our online learners. All of this went on quietly, unperceived by our colleagues upstairs.

Our old basement studio

In March 2020 Covid-19 hit and, unbeknown to us at the time, we span down the cameras, switched off the lights and locked the doors for the last time. We put our computers and server into remote control mode and we transitioned into a work-from-home team for the next 18 months. We were never to use the studio again.

Returning to work?

Fast forward to December 2021. Our existing studio is deemed unfit for use because of poor ventilation and difficult access. We must move and a new space is found for us. For the past 20 odd years, this part of the office was used by our exams team to securely store highly confidential examination papers, and it takes a while for the space to be cleared. Despite this I think it’s rather palatial compared to the dungeonesque basement room!

Phasers set to level 1

We enter the first phase of studio and workspace redesign. Before we dust off the camera equipment and rig the rooms, John the painter paints our walls black. It’s mucky in there, carpets are cleaned and walls are stripped of their shelves. We move our equipment in, bookings fill the calendar, scripts are printed, clapper boards are snapped – filming begins!

Our new space begins to take shape

Moving on up – more space, more possibilities

The upgrade is huge, not just in terms of the physical space but the other opportunities it presents:

Studio plan

A space to be proud of
The new studio will be more easily accessible, efficient, welcoming and professional. We hope it will instil a sense of pride in everyone who uses it.

A self recording booth

Self-recording booths
We now have the space to set up some self-operated recording booths like this one we provided for the team at Goldsmiths, University of London. It means colleagues can record themselves in the studio unassisted – but with support on hand if they need it.

Learning glass

Learning glass
We can start using state of the art teaching aids such as our learning glass – great for explaining process, drawing diagrams and demonstrating working out.

We now have four times the space we had previously. The question is, what do we do with it all? More team members will come, for sure, ambition remains high, and stakeholders assemble.

Kumail Tayyebkhan, Video producer / editor