Written by Patrycja
Hello, my name is Patrycja from Poland, and I study BA (Hons) Computer Animation Art and Design at Bournemouth University. At university, there are lots of different ways to learn: some are implied by the type of assessment and some have to be discovered by the student themselves. Independent learning is a big part of the whole studying experience and trying to meet the assessment deadlines, but you won’t always be studying alone.
Many university projects, especially on animation courses, require group work. Animation courses are highly practical and as in the industry you need to be able to collaborate as a team. University gives you space to ‘try it out in a safe environment’ as one of our lecturers says. The group work can be highly beneficial as you can share ideas and divide tasks wisely, but it can be really hard sometimes depending on the people in the group. During the second year of my animation course, we are going to have a whole unit as a group project so we by doing this assessment we will be able to learn how to work in a group. Group work can be tough but you can also gain a lot of transferable skills and sometimes new friends as it helps you get to know some students you might not have spoken to. I don’t know if I would be such good friends with some of the people on my course if I hadn’t been put in a group with them during some of the seminars.
It is always nice to have someone to share study experiences with so you feel less lonely and lost. BU understands that everyone, especially in first year, can use a helpful hand sometimes, or a friend that went through something similar and can share their experience. Due to this, BU has the Peer Assisted Learning scheme (PAL) which is an hour every week where a group of first year students spend time with a second year student to facilitate their learning. The PAL leader is not a teacher, but more like a friend that can guide you and help with study skills. They might tell you what to do or where to look when you can’t find an idea for a story that you have to write, or they can give advice on how to work efficiently so you don’t have to stress so much about deadlines. PAL sessions can help you make friends with your coursemates because it’s not just the PAL leader running the session; everyone present is discussing their ideas and sharing their ways of learning. I loved my PAL sessions and found them very beneficial. Those hours gave me a wider perspective and allowed me to get to know some amazing people. Not everyone likes to go to PAL sessions, but on my animation course I found that everyone came to the sessions at least once, and usually there were quite a lot of people that wanted to discuss their experiences, invent new ways to cope with a given assignment, or learn about possible mistakes. Some just simply wanted to go through an assignment brief one more time with other people so you can explain to each other the bits you don’t understand. PAL sessions were always a lot of fun and a lot of information, and they also bridge the gap between first and second year students and that is really amazing. It gives the first year students the courage to say hi to any of the second year students in the labs or ask them for help with something.
Why is this whole group studying so important and amazing?
Both group work and PAL bring people together and allow you to make friends, gain transferable skills that are going to be highly valued in your future job, learn a lot from others and make connections and contacts all around the world that might be really helpful in the future. You never know, you might end up working together in the same studio after you finish uni, or you could even start your own animation studio – that’s how Blue Zoo was established. Or, your new friend could tell you about some amazing film project that you could do as a volunteer outside of uni. These things really happen: some of my coursemates and I are currently working on something like this. We wouldn’t have come together and encouraged other people to join if we didn’t have our PAL sessions or the group work in our course. The whole film/game/animation industry is based on group work, so take advantage of the opportunity to learn these valuable skills while at university.