Author Topic: University Challenged  (Read 39012 times)

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #690 on: December 01, 2020, 07:27:51 AM »
We finally make the move to online teaching only from the end of this week, as the university has acknowledged the government dictum about all students moving back home from the 3rd.

They're in the process of setting up testing stations on campus -- but have told students the tests are voluntary, and if they would just like to go home, that's fine. Meanwhile, management is still sending out emails to the students that no one is allowed to go online with their attendance until 3rd December unless they have special permission after providing evidence of their need to the dean and management.

Campus is a ghosttown -- I saw no more than a dozen students on Monday (had to teach four face to face sessions accross the day...meaning 1 or 2 in class, and the rest on Teams, as it's been for weeks).

I'm not even getting into the request sent round to teaching staff that they want us to 'volunteer' to help out with the testing.

As Mr Attila said, there isnt a sky high enough to fuck that one into.

Blue Jam

  • Spiritually bald
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #691 on: December 01, 2020, 07:40:19 AM »
I'm not even getting into the request sent round to teaching staff that they want us to 'volunteer' to help out with the testing.

Fuck that indeed. I volunteered to help with our testing but Embra were at least trying to recruit volunteers who might know their way around a Class 3 biohazard facility.

Didn't get selected because we had over 1,500 eager nerds volunteer, so I'm just on standby in case they need extra pipetting hands on deck. No Heisenberg hazmat suit for me just yet.

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #692 on: December 01, 2020, 08:40:06 AM »
Fuck that indeed. I volunteered to help with our testing but Embra were at least trying to recruit volunteers who might know their way around a Class 3 biohazard facility.

Didn't get selected because we had over 1,500 eager nerds volunteer, so I'm just on standby in case they need extra pipetting hands on deck. No Heisenberg hazmat suit for me just yet.

PPE? For the Arts and the Humanities staff (these seem to be the faculties who received this request)

Ho ho ho.

I'm guessing they expect us to make due with the crappy hand sanitizer and super cheapo face shields they've provided us with (every member of staff received one face shield which fell apart after a couple of wears. They also gave us cheap branded face masks that were clearly designed with Rondo Hatton in mind.)


buttgammon

  • Leave him Tony, he's not worth it
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #693 on: December 01, 2020, 09:44:24 AM »
We got an email the other day saying they're adamant there will be some in-person teaching in the new year even if we are at the highest level of government restrictions. Online has been mostly fine and all of the problems were caused by the university's lateness in making the switch, there is absolutely no good reason for them to do this.

Although they're reluctant to let us teach online in the middle of a pandemic, they're also planning to move a lot of teaching online permanently so they can lay people off and sell off parts of our beautiful historic campus to property developers and the like. The guy at the top of the university is an absolute disgrace; his term is up next year and it really can't end quickly enough. One of our student newspapers published an absolute demolition job of an article about him yesterday, which was a delight to read.

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #694 on: December 01, 2020, 09:57:52 AM »
We got an email the other day saying they're adamant there will be some in-person teaching in the new year even if we are at the highest level of government restrictions. Online has been mostly fine and all of the problems were caused by the university's lateness in making the switch, there is absolutely no good reason for them to do this.


There's been no question that we will continue with 'blended learning' next semester, even though at this point, myself and many colleagues have been hitting up campus to teach 1 or 2 in the classroom and 25 online, several days a week.

No idea how to plan for next semester, as well, as the university plans a 'staggered start' but hasn't worked out what this means yet. There's also talk of a 'holiday break' week in the middle of the semester, taking a week from our usual 4 week spring break and plunking it down in late February or something.

Dreading seeing my timetable when it comes out later this week -- this semester has been wasting about 4 hours a day commuting to teach 0-2 students in the classroom for 45 minutes, four days a week, when other colleagues (who don't commute) seem to have had all of their classes clustered into two or even one long day. I've made requests to have my stuff more efficiently bunched up like this, but timetabling have said their priority is to accommodate the students, not us.

More fun is that even though we are now completely online, we can't combine 2 and 3 seminars to bring together module cohorts for the last meeting or two. It's been a right faff teaching the same seminar three times in a row to a bunch of avatars online who never speak up, with only one or two in the classroom gamely attempting to participate. Why on earth I can't just say to the students, 'Hey kids, everyone let's meet in the midday seminar group' so that at least I have one week where all the people who engage are in one place...(I have sent out sneaky emails to that extent, as have colleagues, who were immediately twatted and told that the timetable has to stay the way it is.)


buttgammon

  • Leave him Tony, he's not worth it
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #695 on: December 01, 2020, 10:59:33 AM »
There's been no question that we will continue with 'blended learning' next semester, even though at this point, myself and many colleagues have been hitting up campus to teach 1 or 2 in the classroom and 25 online, several days a week.

No idea how to plan for next semester, as well, as the university plans a 'staggered start' but hasn't worked out what this means yet. There's also talk of a 'holiday break' week in the middle of the semester, taking a week from our usual 4 week spring break and plunking it down in late February or something.

Dreading seeing my timetable when it comes out later this week -- this semester has been wasting about 4 hours a day commuting to teach 0-2 students in the classroom for 45 minutes, four days a week, when other colleagues (who don't commute) seem to have had all of their classes clustered into two or even one long day. I've made requests to have my stuff more efficiently bunched up like this, but timetabling have said their priority is to accommodate the students, not us.

More fun is that even though we are now completely online, we can't combine 2 and 3 seminars to bring together module cohorts for the last meeting or two. It's been a right faff teaching the same seminar three times in a row to a bunch of avatars online who never speak up, with only one or two in the classroom gamely attempting to participate. Why on earth I can't just say to the students, 'Hey kids, everyone let's meet in the midday seminar group' so that at least I have one week where all the people who engage are in one place...(I have sent out sneaky emails to that extent, as have colleagues, who were immediately twatted and told that the timetable has to stay the way it is.)




I've wondered about this, but we have an increasingly complicated structure where over 100 subject combinations are allowed in arts and humanities alone[1], so it might simply be a timetabling issue. I can't say I've had any issues with participation but based on what colleagues are saying, that's just exceptional good luck. Teaching assistants have had their hours cut to save money, so I'm barely teaching at all at the moment and the students I do have are doing really well.

For what it's worth, I don't think we will go with blended learning in the new year, but it's idiotic for them to be considering it when we look at how crap it's been elsewhere. Virtually every other university in the country has already committed to staying online for the upcoming term, it makes no sense. Also, what about students and staff who aren't even in Ireland at the moment, some of whom might not even have accommodation set up? The risks and logistical issues of that should be enough to put them off.
 1. this is going to double next year, despite the fact that we already have several combination that literally nobody is studying

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #696 on: December 01, 2020, 11:46:03 AM »
I calculated how much unused annual leave I have remaining this year, and found it exceeds the number of days left.

So I've set up an auto-reply that says "fuck you" and told the exam board I ain't doing any marking till January. We'll see how that goes.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #697 on: December 01, 2020, 01:13:31 PM »
Similar vibes here - while we planned both terms in one go, the University seems to think about 2 or 3 working weeks in advance, so they're only just hitting the 'how do we do exams' and 'how do we get students back to university' questions.

At every turn, the senior management really do disappoint.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #698 on: December 01, 2020, 01:20:33 PM »
We have labs, so still running lab classes every. single. day. until Dec 9th. We've also got lab classes for the year that don't have exams in the January exam period, which has caused the higher ups some stress now that they've noticed it. I mean, I didn't TELL THEM back in June.

The helpful Corona virus dashboard tells me we have 7 students with +'ve tests in the last week and only 2 of them may have been on campus within 2 days of the results.

bgmnts

  • Depressed to the point of poisonous toxicity.
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #699 on: December 01, 2020, 01:27:48 PM »
Quite glad students are getting rinsed out of their money to be fair. Fuck em.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #700 on: December 01, 2020, 01:30:41 PM »
Other online teaching has been hit and miss.

We have maths tutorials - the students that like it and find it useful are there every session. Some never turn up.

Project supervisions have gradually moved online but some are doing face to face still.

Looking at TP2 labs makes my heart stop. It's 10 straight weeks of back to back sessions for us to deliver.

Alberon

  • His heart is an empty fridge
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #701 on: December 01, 2020, 06:42:30 PM »
We're running classes until the middle of next week. There's a classroom near my office that had two classes today and it had about five students physically show up for both (which isn't bad based on the reduced capacity the room has).

The testing centre is up and running today and there are about 400-500 bookings each day this week so far. It's only for students so far, but I can book a test if I want one from the middle of next week. The plan is to carry on face to face teaching plus online next term. We've been lucky around here that the general infection rate in our area is low and has been since September.

Staff are only onsite if they absolutely have to - the building next to ours is busy as they're moving out to their brand spanking new building so we can rent their old one to the NHS for the next decade - and students are thin on the ground. It's getting even quieter and for the first time I've noticed a drop in rush-hour traffic in the morning.

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #702 on: December 01, 2020, 10:41:50 PM »
I calculated how much unused annual leave I have remaining this year, and found it exceeds the number of days left.

So I've set up an auto-reply that says "fuck you" and told the exam board I ain't doing any marking till January. We'll see how that goes.

I haven't taken any annual leave since mid-January. Ours is use-it-or-lose it, so I think I finished 2019/20 with something like 25 days left to me. None used so far this year, and I don't see me asking for any until maybe April? Even then, I may be turned down, because the university is now telling us that if we have a staggered start, we may end up losing a significant chunk of the four-week break in April to make up for it.

MrT

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #703 on: December 01, 2020, 11:21:09 PM »
I haven't taken any annual leave since mid-January. Ours is use-it-or-lose it, so I think I finished 2019/20 with something like 25 days left to me. None used so far this year, and I don't see me asking for any until maybe April?

Hi, I don't know if this helps, in the same position, no leave allowed and no let up likely before Easter - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rules-on-carrying-over-annual-leave-to-be-relaxed-to-support-key-industries-during-covid-19

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #704 on: December 02, 2020, 07:20:10 AM »
Hi, I don't know if this helps, in the same position, no leave allowed and no let up likely before Easter - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rules-on-carrying-over-annual-leave-to-be-relaxed-to-support-key-industries-during-covid-19

Cheers!

I don't think I count as a key worker, though. The university has added a bunch of extra leave days, telling us we can have extra days, plus we're allowed to rollover more...but it's pretty useless when then they won't let anyone actually take them.

I tried to take about 10 days in December after the semester ended, but was actually asked, 'Do you think you'll have all of your marking done before you go?'

Well, no, because usually assignments that come in during the final week don't need to be marked until the first week of the new semester. But now senior management wants us to be returning assignments over the xmas period itself because as we all know, students are keen to read their essay results on Christmas morning.

I've gone on 2-3 days mini breaks in the week immediately after the end of autumn term for about 25 years now, just to blow off steam; this is the first time ever that I've been denied that time off.

I figure I'm going to be working like a maniac straight through the xmas break anyway, since I've got to re-write/restructure all of the modules I'm teaching in the spring, all of the marking, and plus I've got to read two dissertations over the break for a couple of viva exams that fall in late January. As far as I'm concerned, 'Christmas break' just means I don't have to commute for about 3 weeks or so and have more time to work on all of this stuff.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #705 on: December 02, 2020, 11:06:41 AM »
My decision to back off workwise for the rest of the year is motivated by the fact that I'm so tired that I keep making mistakes. It's already quite liberating - feel better already!

Blue Jam

  • Spiritually bald
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #706 on: December 02, 2020, 12:48:14 PM »
Us Embra peeps can carry over ten days of annual leave to 2021 apparently.

I also have a stupid amount of annual leave left despite having been back in the lab since June, so I have also decided to sack the rest of the year off. I spent most of the weekend sitting behind a microscope and finished the last of my lab werk on Monday. Barring Zoooooom meetings that's it for my 2020. Feels good.

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #707 on: December 02, 2020, 02:48:10 PM »

I also have a stupid amount of annual leave left despite having been back in the lab since June, so I have also decided to sack the rest of the year off. I spent most of the weekend sitting behind a microscope and finished the last of my lab werk on Monday. Barring Zoooooom meetings that's it for my 2020. Feels good.

Envious! We have two more weeks of teaching, then are expected to be oncall up to 23rd December for meetings, student drafts, student emails.

I have been in Teams meetings for the past 5 hours -- absolutely nothing useful, and I have a fuckton of marking I could have been doing, or working on my next-semester classes.

We were told that the university hasn't decided yet how we're going to return in spring semester, so not to plan any weekly classwork until January...um, considering how much work each one of my class meetings has been thanks to this blended-learning wheeze, I am NOT going to wait til mid-January to put my weekly class stuff together....

I'm in a meeting right now, being 'trained' to do something I've already been 'trained' in -- and the person leading the meeting does not have her notification jingle turned off. It is making me twitch, hearing that little jingle over and over again....

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #708 on: December 02, 2020, 07:51:44 PM »
I actually did some face to face today with first year students. They seem remarkably cheerful, all things considered, but are aching for more in person classes. Had to explain that even if the government announced a change of rules tomorrow, it would take several months to reconfigure all the spaces, timetables etc.

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #709 on: December 03, 2020, 07:27:49 AM »
My 2nd and 3rd Year students really miss proper face-to-face meetings...I've had several of them show up to the classroom even on weeks when they aren't rota'd in and should be on Teams, asking if they can attend live. Considering that so many others either just go to Teams (or have stopped coming all together), if there was room, I'd let them in.

The best session I had all semester was when I combined the few students in one seminar for a Year 2 module with the few students in the other -- proper discussion and debate, and the time flew by. There are 30 students on the module, so timetabling divided it in half. Maybe 4 came to the first one (out of 15) and 2 or 3 to the second, with a handful on Teams -- I'd say that more than 1/2 of that module cohort has never come to class or dialled in to Teams. It also really shows on the absolutely shitty assignments I've been getting from the absentees, as well.

My big 3rd module is this morning, all on Teams now. I'm hoping some of them turn on their cameras -- but I don't expect it.

We had a dept meeting yesterday discussing how students have been reacting to Teams and that, and a number of colleagues were in competition for who had the student who stayed on Teams the longest after the actually class meeting had ended (you know, they dial in, no camera, no mike, and obviously figure, 'Well, I'll just have to remember to log out after an hour...and then they forget). I think the winner was someone with a student in the Teams room 3 hours after the session had ended.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #710 on: December 03, 2020, 07:37:58 AM »
Can I join your teams?

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #711 on: December 03, 2020, 08:40:18 AM »
I think anyone who's dialled in (either from the class register, or if I dial someone in (if they have a Teams account, like a guest speaker) can join in.

Don't tempt me :D

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #712 on: December 03, 2020, 10:11:22 AM »
Only a single session across three modules delivered remotely. Actually a great teaching term. Coronovirs done wonders for attendance.

buttgammon

  • Leave him Tony, he's not worth it
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #713 on: December 03, 2020, 10:18:09 AM »
As far as I know we aren't even meant to be taking attendance but for what it's worth, I didn't have a single absence in a whole term of online teaching. I've been teaching a minimal number of tutorials because the university doesn't want to pay teaching assistants much any more but that's still quite something.

Alberon

  • His heart is an empty fridge
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #714 on: December 23, 2020, 05:41:48 PM »
I know it’s the holidays but has anyone heard any plans for operating under Tier 4? On Monday my uni said it was still planning to do the phased return of students through January. They’ve also said in the past they’ve kept back around £50m reserves to cover any second lockdown.

Tier 4 going England-wide seems inevitable, has any higher education facility revealed any plans? Or are they still saying (publicly at least) that the student return plan is still going ahead?

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #715 on: December 23, 2020, 09:48:27 PM »
No return in January or ever - everyone will be dead!!!

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #716 on: December 26, 2020, 05:17:27 PM »
I know it’s the holidays but has anyone heard any plans for operating under Tier 4? On Monday my uni said it was still planning to do the phased return of students through January. They’ve also said in the past they’ve kept back around £50m reserves to cover any second lockdown.

Tier 4 going England-wide seems inevitable, has any higher education facility revealed any plans? Or are they still saying (publicly at least) that the student return plan is still going ahead?

Official rules are that we go ahead as planned, with the staggered start over January.

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #717 on: December 27, 2020, 10:18:10 AM »
Official rules are that we go ahead as planned, with the staggered start over January.

That was the last message from our senior management (of course it was sent at 1655 on Christmas eve); we're told to 'stay tuned' for the official plan and policy which will be sent to us 4 January. But every indication is chaotic staggered start and hybrid/blended learning again for this semester.

We're supposed to have 4 January off, but looks as if we're meant to be back at work/on call now instead because of covid 'preparations' for the semester.



Re: University Challenged
« Reply #718 on: December 27, 2020, 12:05:54 PM »
my laptops died and I've only got 60 credits of teaching to deliver this year. Brilliant.

Zetetic

  • I wasn't supposed to be around this long, so…
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #719 on: January 06, 2021, 07:07:38 PM »
Rent strikes then, which is nice.

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