Author Topic: University Challenged  (Read 31875 times)

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #240 on: September 01, 2020, 11:11:26 PM »
Ii've got no probs doing the recording (I used to do a lot of multi media for my music classes). It's that the damned Teams/Streams hookup isn't working, and no one seems to know what the problem is or how to fix it. I've been through all of our IT guys, and their universal response is, 'huh.' It's not that I don't know how to use the programmes/equipement -- it's that they don't bloody work (I'm cross with them, not you guys).

Can't access any classrooms at the moment; in order actually to get into my office on Friday this week (I need to collect books), I had to fill out a three page 'service request' filled with health questions and writing long explanations why I have to access my office, andisn't it stuff I can do from home. I'm allowed only 30 minutes -- so much for all of the scanning and printing I need to do.

Absolute clusterfuck.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #241 on: September 02, 2020, 07:58:12 AM »
Ah right yes software fails. I thought it was a basic premise of HE IT that it mostly gets in the way of doing your job. Spent most of yesterday tediously setting up release schedules for dozens of individual course items because theres no way to automate that process. And if timetabling moves my classes (again) I’ll have to go and edit the whole lot. Automation, we’ve heard of it.

A major factor in my decision to use the rough and ready LT recording setup, rather than attempt something more professional / appealing to view remotely, was that it was already hooked into the delivery system and I wouldn’t have to worry about that. There’s plenty enough other things to worry about as it is.

Luckily my building reopened fairly early and so we can pretty much come and go as we please, with the expectation that we do so only if it’s essential. Preparing for teaching is deemed essential, which is helpful. That said, I’m not sure the building my tutorials are in is open and I do need to have a look to see how social distancing will translate to the room layout, which in turn will affect how the tutorials are run. We already appreciate that it will be teaching from the front, 1950s style. An issue is that the room I’m in might not have a “front” as such...

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #242 on: September 02, 2020, 08:06:10 AM »
We had a massive cyber breach at the weekend and police are investigating so most services are shut down. They have kept the teaching bit up though.

Blue Jam

  • COLOSSAL DESSERT TOWER
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #243 on: September 02, 2020, 03:47:31 PM »
My uni is bending over backwards to take precautions for the students (fair enough), but zero for the staff's well-being and workload.

Attila, reading your posts is making me feel bad for whining about my uni taking too many precautions. Stay safe.

Getting lots of work done here despite the best efforts of our 'elf and safety peeps. Been informed that I have clocked up more hours than anyone else in the building. Will that be appreciated? Will it fuck.

buttgammon

  • Leave him Tony, he's not worth it
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #244 on: September 02, 2020, 03:57:43 PM »
We had a really grim meeting, which made it abundantly clear nothing has been resolved. I've pissed off people in the department by asking questions they couldn't answer, and we still have no answers. We now have a policy (which is not necessarily agreed by the College yet but which my department intends to enforce) that every student must wear a mask; this is welcome, but they've managed to gradually whittle down social distancing requirements from 2m to 1m. In lieu of the college actually hiring cleaners to do a good, professional job, we've been told we will have to clean classrooms after using them. We still don't have timetables and our hours are not confirmed; we've been told all teaching will be done in-person when possible with online streams for students who can't attend, but we don't know what will happen to casual staff who can't or won't teach on site, and they may well find themselves cut loose. The timetables will be released in a few weeks and even then, that's only going to be because the government have put pressure on the university to have things in order by the middle of the month.

Casual staff like me have been pushing for clarity all summer, but nobody has been willing to take us seriously. It seems there's now some disquiet among the permanent staff, but they're hamstrung too. It's a complete mess.

Blue Jam

  • COLOSSAL DESSERT TOWER
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #245 on: September 02, 2020, 06:06:35 PM »
Today I noticed someone at work has been putting googly eyes on things. Evidently people are getting a bit fed up here.

Might go out and buy a packet myself.

Alberon

  • His heart is an empty fridge
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #246 on: September 02, 2020, 07:08:37 PM »
Would love to post the photo, but someone in the signage department while putting up signs for the new one way systems in some buildings has gone a bit mental and slapped a ‘no entry’ underneath an ‘exit’ one on the same door.

Not that any staff or student will pay attention to them.

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #247 on: September 02, 2020, 10:58:26 PM »
I have to go onto campus Friday for a two hour training session on how the in-class seminars are going to work, where we have to teach the ones who show up, but stream the session to the ones at home, as well as record, upload, and close-caption the session. All session chats have to be monitored, so I'm meant to be getting the students present to talk, as well as getting the students who've dialled in to talk and engage with the class, as well as me answering chat questions and comments. It's mental.

The training is happening in a brand new, state of the art building on our smaller, secondary campus. So we're being trained in a classroom we will never use, with decent equipment that we will not have access to.

I've also had to fill in a three page request to be able to access my office, as I need to take stuff in and collect as few things. I am told I have 30 minutes only, and will be escorted/chaperoned by a security guard the entire time. This is, I kid you not, to prevent me from going to the toilet.

(No idea if we're allowed to use the toilet at any time during the training.)

Officially, we can't access our offices until the first day of classes -- and even then, we have to sign up on some sort of rota system to make sure there are never more than 5 people in the building at a time. I really really need to be able to get to my office computer (to download the 38,000 updates from this year, but also I need to do printing and scanning), but that's not considered essential.

I've already worked out that I will be losing about four hours a day commuting to teach for about an hour, 90 mins tops, every day, in the middle of the day, so it's not as if it's just the morning lost.

IT have said the Microsoft issue is a global problem with their servers, and may be fixed 'by next week.' The good news is, I've found a (slow but useable) workaround, and thank the dark lord fuck, was able to recover the hours of recordings I've already made.

IT sent around an email yesterday stating they will not tolerate either written or verbal abuse from staff, and word on the street is that staff are having fairly awful meltdowns at an over-stretched and beleaguered IT dept (they've been reduced by almost 2/3s in the most recent redundancy scheme).

Good fucking times.

I keep telling Mr Attila we should just move to Scotland so I can open a little shop and have some sheep. I'm really not joking around at this point. History and teaching have been my whole life, and this is pushings me well over the edge in terms of stress and anxiety. With my schedule and everything we're expected to do this semester, I'm going to be working evenings and weekends just to keep up -- that commute is going to eat up what would otherwise be work/downtime.

Bleah.

Blue Jam

  • COLOSSAL DESSERT TOWER
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #248 on: September 02, 2020, 11:31:02 PM »
We have to put in a request if we want to collect things from our offices, but people realised the offices weren't actually locked and started going in to get things without making requests, so now they've all been locked. I was reassured that my cactus (which I definitely didn't pick out because it was the most phallic one, honest) is still alive because our nice thoughtful cleaners had been watering all the plants. Not anymore. DEAD SOON. And we've also been told that office-based staff won't be back until January at the earliest...

I keep telling Mr Attila we should just move to Scotland so I can open a little shop and have some sheep. I'm really not joking around at this point.

Mr Jam and I are having the "let's move to a little sheep farm in the Outer Hebrides" conversation more and more often. Along with the one about me sacking off biomedical science and retraining as a dog groomer.

bgmnts

  • Depressed to the point of poisonous toxicity.
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #249 on: September 03, 2020, 12:00:17 AM »
Thank god I didn't follow my childhood dream (I know, I know) of being a historian/history professor.

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #250 on: September 03, 2020, 07:16:52 AM »
Thank god I didn't follow my childhood dream (I know, I know) of being a historian/history professor.

It's not silly -- it was my childhood dream, as well. When things have gone all right, it's been a good gig. However, yeah...It took me til age 45 to finally land a proper full time university job, and over the past decade, the workload has increased in terms of admin and bullshit, and less and less time actually to teach and write. The past few years (endless bullying and abuse from a crazy parent that made my life holy hell, and my head of dept  did nothing, & senior management sided with the parent, and especially now with covid...) have had a fairly detrimental effect on my mental well-being, sadly. The stress and anxiety are like a living, physical entity, and it's getting more and more difficult to live like this.

Good times.

Attila

  • gif made by hedgehog90
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #251 on: September 03, 2020, 07:21:39 AM »

Mr Jam and I are having the "let's move to a little sheep farm in the Outer Hebrides" conversation more and more often. Along with the one about me sacking off biomedical science and retraining as a dog groomer.

Mr Attila thinks I'm joking when I tell him I'd like to up sticks and start over somewhere else with a little sheep farm (I used to have one, so I know what's involved) and run a little crafty-type shop (experience there, as well).

I try not to talk much with him about how stressed out I am, because I don't want to lay it all on him, you know?

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #252 on: September 03, 2020, 07:25:38 AM »
Would love to post the photo, but someone in the signage department while putting up signs for the new one way systems in some buildings has gone a bit mental and slapped a ‘no entry’ underneath an ‘exit’ one on the same door.

Not that any staff or student will pay attention to them.

did the signage on my lab yesterday

"a door can't be both an entrance and an exit"
"it connects the two labs?"

Goggly eyes please.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #253 on: September 03, 2020, 07:33:08 AM »
I have to go onto campus Friday for a two hour training session on how the in-class seminars are going to work, where we have to teach the ones who show up, but stream the session to the ones at home, as well as record, upload, and close-caption the session. All session chats have to be monitored, so I'm meant to be getting the students present to talk, as well as getting the students who've dialled in to talk and engage with the class, as well as me answering chat questions and comments. It's mental.

The training is happening in a brand new, state of the art building on our smaller, secondary campus. So we're being trained in a classroom we will never use, with decent equipment that we will not have access to.

I've also had to fill in a three page request to be able to access my office, as I need to take stuff in and collect as few things. I am told I have 30 minutes only, and will be escorted/chaperoned by a security guard the entire time. This is, I kid you not, to prevent me from going to the toilet.

(No idea if we're allowed to use the toilet at any time during the training.)

Officially, we can't access our offices until the first day of classes -- and even then, we have to sign up on some sort of rota system to make sure there are never more than 5 people in the building at a time. I really really need to be able to get to my office computer (to download the 38,000 updates from this year, but also I need to do printing and scanning), but that's not considered essential.

I've already worked out that I will be losing about four hours a day commuting to teach for about an hour, 90 mins tops, every day, in the middle of the day, so it's not as if it's just the morning lost.

IT have said the Microsoft issue is a global problem with their servers, and may be fixed 'by next week.' The good news is, I've found a (slow but useable) workaround, and thank the dark lord fuck, was able to recover the hours of recordings I've already made.

IT sent around an email yesterday stating they will not tolerate either written or verbal abuse from staff, and word on the street is that staff are having fairly awful meltdowns at an over-stretched and beleaguered IT dept (they've been reduced by almost 2/3s in the most recent redundancy scheme).

Good fucking times.

I keep telling Mr Attila we should just move to Scotland so I can open a little shop and have some sheep. I'm really not joking around at this point. History and teaching have been my whole life, and this is pushings me well over the edge in terms of stress and anxiety. With my schedule and everything we're expected to do this semester, I'm going to be working evenings and weekends just to keep up -- that commute is going to eat up what would otherwise be work/downtime.

Bleah.

Here's an opportunity for revolution!

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #254 on: September 03, 2020, 07:34:57 AM »
It's not silly -- it was my childhood dream, as well. When things have gone all right, it's been a good gig. However, yeah...It took me til age 45 to finally land a proper full time university job, and over the past decade, the workload has increased in terms of admin and bullshit, and less and less time actually to teach and write. The past few years (endless bullying and abuse from a crazy parent that made my life holy hell, and my head of dept  did nothing, & senior management sided with the parent, and especially now with covid...) have had a fairly detrimental effect on my mental well-being, sadly. The stress and anxiety are like a living, physical entity, and it's getting more and more difficult to live like this.

Good times.

So I should go for the Government lackey position you reckon? ;)

I don't feel right in this world anymore.

Attila

  • gif made by hedgehog90
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #255 on: September 03, 2020, 07:48:32 AM »
So I should go for the Government lackey position you reckon? ;)

I don't feel right in this world anymore.

The situation at work is why I try to stay in the Wildlife and the cats threads :)  Otherwise, talking/thinking about this stuff, I'll just crack up completely, I think.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #256 on: September 03, 2020, 09:18:32 AM »
Solidarity with everyone who is having a tough time of it at the moment.

The prospect of this coming year being a complete and utter shitshow is discouraging me from applying for a temporary teaching post which I would otherwise have jumped at with something approaching enthusiasm.


Blue Jam

  • COLOSSAL DESSERT TOWER
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #257 on: September 03, 2020, 10:56:15 AM »
over the past decade, the workload has increased in terms of admin and bullshit, and less and less time actually to teach and write.

This particular issue seems a lot worse in the humanities than the sciences. Mr Jam is in the humanities and his Zoom meetings seem to take about ten times as long as my Zoom meetings. Mine get straight to the point and leave me with a nice To Do list and a proper plan for the week, I think he gets more departmental waffling. Yes, we have 'elf and safety stuff and I have a colleague who seems to spend all day writing risk assessments, but that stuff is unavoidable.

It could be a thing that varies between institutions though. When I was at KCL I know my boss there had to deal with a load of college politics. At Edinburgh it doesn't seem quite so bad.

I'm kind of glad I don't teach anymore. I used to really enjoy it but it sounds like it's going to be a nightmare until Covid fucks off. The closest I get is supervising students and I'm lucky our crap lazy one has left and we've only had bright and capable ones since.

Big hugs to you Attila.

Attila

  • gif made by hedgehog90
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #258 on: September 03, 2020, 12:59:45 PM »
This particular issue seems a lot worse in the humanities than the sciences. Mr Jam is in the humanities and his Zoom meetings seem to take about ten times as long as my Zoom meetings. Mine get straight to the point and leave me with a nice To Do list and a proper plan for the week, I think he gets more departmental waffling. Yes, we have 'elf and safety stuff and I have a colleague who seems to spend all day writing risk assessments, but that stuff is unavoidable.

It could be a thing that varies between institutions though. When I was at KCL I know my boss there had to deal with a load of college politics. At Edinburgh it doesn't seem quite so bad.

I'm kind of glad I don't teach anymore. I used to really enjoy it but it sounds like it's going to be a nightmare until Covid fucks off. The closest I get is supervising students and I'm lucky our crap lazy one has left and we've only had bright and capable ones since.

Big hugs to you Attila.

cheers <3

I've b een in a history meeting for the past 3 hours, and it's all just been literal tears and people super upset.

We've literally had, during the meeting, a complete new directive in how we're meant to teach online this semester. It's an absolute shambles.
 
Hybrid learning is just not going to work. Fuckton of plans and intiatives, no clear direction for how any of this is meant to work. Timetabling is awful.

My head of dept has even said, once the students realise everything is going to be streamed, they will stop actually attending in person --so I'll be making 2 hour commutes for 45 minutes (the total time allowed for the sessions) to empty classrooms. All seminar stuff is what's being emphasised -- but the students never participate or do the reading -- and we're not allowed to provide them with handouts.

Everything I do with organising the students into little groups, having them work on documents -- we're not allowed to do any of that.

Right now, I wish I could just disappear.

Attila

  • gif made by hedgehog90
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #259 on: September 03, 2020, 01:09:59 PM »
And on top of everything else, each lecturer is now responsible for student engagement -- and will be penalised if students are not engaging in online learning. So we have to check all the infographics on our module pages to make sure the students are engaging with all of the materials we upload.

If they are missing at least 80% of attendance, then we have to have 1-2-1 meetings with them (five all told), going through practice in good engagement and proactivity in their studies.

And we're also expected now to respond to student emails within 24 hours of receipt (it's been 72 hours, work days only).

It's mental.


Attila

  • gif made by hedgehog90
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #260 on: September 03, 2020, 02:52:05 PM »
Annnnd just finished a meeting with a very patient, very weary IT person about how to use the cool new software w'ell have in hand...maybe...unless they decide to go with something else...next week...or maybe just before the first day of class...who knows.

IT has been gutted by redundancies, so they are down to two full time and 3 pt people handling issues of thousands of people...this woman is an sbsolute saint, but so weary. Her dead-eyed stare when a colleague asked how come it takes an hour to record an hour lecture. Isn't there as way to record it at 4x, 8x, or even 16x speed -- wouldn't that be more efficient?

I'm stressed and anxious, and I have a half-arsed idea how to do this stuff, and how to cobble something workable together in the next two 1/2 weeks, but I cannot imagine how the completely technophobe and techno-ignorant of my colleagues are managing. :(

buttgammon

  • Leave him Tony, he's not worth it
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #261 on: September 03, 2020, 03:57:31 PM »
Attila, every post you make in this thread puts the problems at my institution into perspective - it really sounds like they treat you like shit there (including IT evidently).

I'm feeling relatively lucky at the moment. I'm in a stable enough financial position because I have a second job and funding that has no teaching stipulation, so I've turned round and said I will not teach in-person classes under the current circumstances but am available to teach online (we were asked to state a preference back when the college was aiming for a mixed model and were sent an email giving us one chance to change our minds). A lot of colleagues are inevitably going to do the same. Unfortunately, this means permanent staff will be massively overworked taking over our tutorials and some unlucky TAs who desperately need the money and can't say no will have to work in awful conditions for low pay without even having a contract.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #262 on: September 03, 2020, 06:44:01 PM »
I thought I had everything under control. And today I seem to have lost control again. I think the icing on the cake was being asked to fill out a spreadsheet with every single hand-in deadline for the course because extension requests are now going to be handled centrally rather than by the course organiser as used to be the case. Not a difficult job, you would think, but made more so by the fact that I don't have a timetable yet...

Attila

  • gif made by hedgehog90
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #263 on: September 04, 2020, 06:59:55 AM »
If I had an alternative, I'd grab at it -- but there isn't much out there for a mid-50s woman to start over again with any financial security.

I'm pretty much stuck with this, as there is no escape or alternatives as far as I can see except somewhat drastic ones. Ah well.

I hope everyone else at a university is all right,  x.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #264 on: September 04, 2020, 08:40:04 AM »
Not really, I think we are all fucked. US-style Corporate Academia is here to stay. Land grab in cities, diminishment of freedoms etc.

Blue Jam

  • COLOSSAL DESSERT TOWER
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #265 on: September 04, 2020, 01:28:12 PM »
Just applied for a job for which I am massively overqualified. It is a research job though, and it would beat working in a call centre again. I guess I should just be glad my institution isn't having a recruitment freeze *sigh*

Blue Jam

  • COLOSSAL DESSERT TOWER
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #266 on: September 04, 2020, 01:38:16 PM »
...and yes, someone has already suggested to me that I get myself an RV and start cooking crystal meth, and while they were joking it did make me want to cry a little bit.

chveik

  • vampires have it easy
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #267 on: September 04, 2020, 01:44:01 PM »
it all sounds awful. I was close to follow a career in academia at some point but I had a nervous breakdown. looks like it was for the best!

Attila

  • gif made by hedgehog90
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #268 on: September 04, 2020, 01:53:34 PM »
I've just come back from campus, and the health & safety measures are simply stickers and signs everywhere telling people to wash their hands, observe social distancing, and wear a mask indoors (cafes and shops only).

A friend of mine is a librarian on my former home campus, and it's like night and day, the differences in how the two universities are reacting -- their library is open, but most of their teaching is online. They have seriously vigorous distancing and cleaning procedures in place -- and they have had, since 31 August, 30+ cases of students testing positive for covid, and over a dozen instructors. That's with almost a Howard Hughes level of cleaniless.

It's going to be carnage at my university.

I was in today as they're requiring all of us to do practice runs of hybrid learning; we all had a lot of laughs, but also agreed, it's going to be a fucking shambles.

Blue Jam

  • COLOSSAL DESSERT TOWER
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #269 on: September 04, 2020, 02:21:53 PM »
it all sounds awful. I was close to follow a career in academia at some point but I had a nervous breakdown. looks like it was for the best!

Basically I'm at the top of pay grade 6 (Research Assistant/Technician level) when I should be in the middle of grade 7 (Postdoc level) by now. I'd be there if I hadn't sacked off the grade 7 job I had a few years ago but as I detailed in another thread I ended up being signed off work with anxiety thanks to horrible colleagues and an ineffectual boss and after a year I was thankfully poached by another lab group leader and was all too happy to take a small pay cut.

I think another year in that job really would have induced a nervous breakdown though.

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