Our faculty: Nicolás Muñoz

Hi, I am Nico, one of Human Study’s tutors. I am based in Spain and am half German and  half Spanish. I am a P&O educator with a Bachelor in P&O & Masters in Education and e-learning.

I’ve been working with Human Study since 2015. My first group of students were Syrian refugees working in the South of Turkey. It was really interesting, working with people with such different backgrounds to me. 

We provided our online learning as normal but when it came to onsite activities, we first partnered with Ankara University in Turkey, and ran our first workshops from there. Each module has a topic focus. We do the theory online and then we do a 2 week onsite workshop on that topic with practical exercises then a final exam.

Christian Schlierf, Nicolas Munoz with patient in cast for IC trans-femoral prosthesis
A hip disarticulation patient being casted for a prosthesis

Then we moved our practical work to Reyhanli, very close to the Syrian border. We could see the border from the workshop and the students’ homes were close by. The Syrian students living in Syria used to sneak over the border at night to join us! Although in the final year we couldn’t do that with everyone so we were running the courses in Turkey and those that couldn’t get there were taught in Syria by Luai. 

It’s been amazing watching the students develop over time. Luai for example has really grown in confidence, as has Fatima, they all have, you can really see that.

Fatima was a physics teacher, she came to the workshop because she wanted to do something for her community. The way she navigated and mastered that change in profession was very impressive.

CHALLENGES

The war was obviously very challenging for our students. Students were always worried about what was happening at home. We (the tutor team) really noticed that our coursework brought structure and routine to their lives, and the students welcomed this. We were hesitant about setting fixed deadlines with all they had going on, but when we discussed it with the students, they made it clear they wanted deadlines. The structure gave them a sense of normality and the feeling they were making progress.  

These clinicians were hungry for knowledge, and saw an opportunity to progress. But it wasn’t about progress for its own sake. They immediately saw what a difference their learning made to their patients, and that was their inspiration.

Some of the students we were working with initially had very little education at all. They couldn’t even write the alphabet in English, or do basic maths and science. Human Study helped build these skills, but we had to adapt.

We started doing things differently, finding more visual materials, subtitled videos etcetera, but the students also helped. For example, Luai had the best English. He would frequently be the first to grasp what was needed and translate for everyone else so that they understood. His leadership qualities shone through and he had a key role. We were constantly improvising. Human Study provided English lessons throughout for students, and we had maths tutors who were working with a class with some very gifted mathematicians, and others who didn’t even have basic maths. The students also  formed their own study groups and really helped each other.  

Throughout their education journey, they were able to immediately apply what they learned. Compared to their first years, they have grown. You can see this in their case presentations. The quality of their work and approach to service users is really different. Also academically, the improvement is obvious. There is  more critical thinking, higher level problem solving and  understanding why they’re doing what they’re doing.

IMPACT

Previously I worked for a huge private clinic group in Spain. At the end of the day, in a company like that, you’re just a number. In Human Study you have a voice inside the organisation, and at the end of the day your work has an impact, you really see it! Not only does it impact the student who is growing, but they are also giving back to the community, and their patients are able to maximise their mobility. It’s hugely rewarding.

LEARNING

At Human Study, we are always learning. Take the online exams we delivered. It was a steep learning curve. Initially we really tried to simulate the usual exam format, online. We soon realised we needed a different format. I would like to apply what I learnt through my Master’s and look at how we’re able to use technology more efficiently with our students. We have the platform, which is brilliant. Now I would like to look at how we can use it more effectively to improve the way we teach and the way students learn. 

I learnt a lot from our students. To adapt the way I was teaching. It made me a really creative teacher. I had to be. My personal learning is: don’t sweat the small stuff. War puts things in perspective. Staying safe and your family is what matters most. I also learnt a little Arabic!