#Take5 #23: The best way to start the new academic year? It’s meditation, Jim…
The Meditation Project – Kent
We decided to start the new academic year with a meditation – rather than either a bang or a whimper, appropriate as either would be – and have invited Louise Frith, University of Kent, to share her experiences of building meditation resources with and for her students. This is what Louise has to say:
“The meditation sessions were great, I realised it was not just me who is feeling overwhelmed.” (Stage 1 student).
The meditation project at Kent was developed from a growing awareness of the stress that students experienced related to their studies. Firstly we established a weekly meditation session using YouTube videos of guided meditations to facilitate the sessions. The sessions were well attended and students seemed to really find them useful, but the YouTube resources were not targeted specifically at students.
From this beginning, a project was established using expertise from around the university to produce our own meditation resources. We established a community of practice which brought together students and staff from many different areas of the university:
The University Chaplin, nine counsellors and one student recorded their own guided meditations.
A university music technician recorded and mixed them to a professional standard.
An art student produced the graphics for the CD cover.
Another University technician developed the website using content provided by me.
A journalism student recorded and produced the video – and …
Two MSc computing students, under the supervision of a computing academic, developed the apps.
“I learned so much from this project and I loved working with all the different people around the university. It literally changed my life!” (Student co-ordinator).
Working within this community was the most enriching part of the project. Everyone gave their time and expertise freely and they were allowed creative control of their area which meant that every contributor felt they had a stake in the project. The co-ordination was done by myself in partnership with a student working as co-creator.
What we produced, we share
The outcomes of the project included; recording a CD of 11 guided meditations and two original sound tracks – and making that available free to students online. We produced a website with information about study and stress, producing a video explaining and advertising the project and developing two apps using the recordings of guided meditations for students to access from their mobile devices: https://www.kent.ac.uk/smfa/currentstudents/meditationmix2015.html
The project won the University’s Learning and Teaching Support prize in 2015. All of the resources are now freely available and are used extensively by Kent students especially in the lead-up to exams. The collaborations between departments is ongoing – and the Student Learning Advice Service work much more closely with the Student Support and Well-being team. Since the first two apps, four more study-skills apps have been developed as a result of collaboration between SLAS and the School of Computing.
Louise Frith is a Student Learning Adviser at the University of Kent. Medway campus. She teaches academic skills across the discipline and co-ordinates the Academic Peer Mentoring scheme at Medway. She has co-authored two books; ‘Professional Writing for Social Workers’ McGraw-Hill, and ‘The Students’ Guide to Peer Mentoring’ Palgrave.
Image supplied by LFrith.