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Solent Unviersity Southampton logo

Keep calm and manage the crisis

Real world learning is a way of going beyond the classroom, breaking down the barriers between what is taught and what is practiced, and providing opportunities for collaboration beyond the subject area.

Recently, the university saw a crisis simulation day that brought together students from PR and Communications, Marketing, Criminology, and MA Advertising and Multimedia Communications and gave them a taste of some high-tension real world learning.

Told that the university faced a bomb threat, the student groups had to manage the communications throughout the day, with the aims of preventing panic and maintaining the reputation as a safe place for staff, students and the public. 

Coordinated by Lynsey Watt, Senior Lecturer in Public Relations, the students were drip-fed information every hour through the SOL site, and had to respond to comments that arrived without warning on the Facebook page.

All of the skills they had learnt in the classroom now had to be put into practice, along with time management and content creation that met the requirements of the moment. 

The students all enjoyed it and of course understood there was no real threat. But raising the adrenalin wasn’t the purpose of the day, even if it was a motivating factor. 

Think about all the people you work with on a daily basis. You know them well. You understand what annoys them; they know what makes you tick. You get on or know how to. If you’ve been at Solent for any length of time, you’ve probably forgotten that this wasn’t always the case, and if it’s a while since your very first job, you’ve definitely forgotten that this was something you had to learn. 

By working in these cross-disciplinary teams, the students are thrown together with relative strangers of a mix of ages, experience and personalities, yet have to deliver an excellent outcome to a tight deadline. That’s professionalism. 

As our new Chancellor, Theo Paphitis, added, people have to understand what we do, and the only way they can do that is if we communicate it in a positive manner that everyone can understand. 

That’s the real world. It’s as easy, and as hard, as that.