Author Topic: University Challenged  (Read 44461 times)

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #720 on: January 19, 2021, 01:04:50 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.

or not.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #721 on: January 21, 2021, 08:30:22 PM »
We’ve finally admitted we’re online only for the rest of the semester.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #722 on: January 21, 2021, 08:50:38 PM »
I'm actually not allowed to discuss our plans :/

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #723 on: January 21, 2021, 08:52:22 PM »
I'm actually not allowed to discuss our plans :/

NDA?

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #724 on: January 21, 2021, 10:08:11 PM »
I'm actually not allowed to discuss our plans :/

I wasn’t sure that I wasn’t but since it was on the front page of the local newspaper...

Alberon

  • His heart is an empty fridge
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #725 on: January 21, 2021, 10:13:30 PM »
Ours isn’t committing to staying online beyond February, but the chance of them coming back before Easter is virtually nil.

Attila

  • gif made by hedgehog90
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #726 on: January 22, 2021, 07:29:05 AM »
Mine is absolutely insisting that we will be back in the classroom from mid-February (and we've also been warned of more redundancy culls in the summer if we -- that is staff -- don't get application number ups and acceptences of offers firmed up. Some of the current initiatives are absolutely mental related to applications on the one hand, and student rentention on the other).

So far, with classes being 100% online rather than the hybrid stuff, I have had really good attendance and engagement in my seminars. Sure, I have to do a bit more in terms of sending emails and stuff to the various module cohorts every week to keep them on track, but this week, our first full-on week of work/discussion/workshops, has seen for me some of the best groups discussions since I was doing stuff completely in the classroom.

I will be very happy to go back to face to face tutorials when the time comes (I find call after call on Teams for tutorials gets exhausting -- I have three hours' of tutorials mandatory for one of my fresher modules to slog through this morning), but yeah, it's such a marked difference to have everyone online rather than trying to deal with online students and students in the classroom at the same time.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #727 on: January 22, 2021, 07:27:13 PM »
Yip. Bi-mode is madness and we made a decision not to do that early on. Hours-wise it was a little more work, as we had to run a couple of extra online sessions for those who couldn’t come to the in-person ones. But I would rather do two hours where I can interact meaningfully with a single group rather than a single hour failing to interact with either.

buttgammon

  • Magnums (Magna)
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #728 on: January 22, 2021, 09:47:28 PM »
Extraordinarily, things are going okay here. It was decided early in the month that the whole semester would be online, but essential library and lab services are being allowed to operate on a limited basis. This is the least they could do, of course, but the incompetence of the people in charge is so great that we're almost led to feel grateful.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #729 on: February 24, 2021, 03:12:22 PM »
We're resuming f-2-f on 8th March, except our group told management to fuck off, so we won't.

FerriswheelBueller

  • CaB rear of the year 2020
  • Silver Member
  • ****
  • Take it easy, but take it.
    • I am antsy for baseball in the off-season.
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #730 on: February 24, 2021, 03:42:37 PM »
In person classes starting in September for me in a “phased approach” (assuming I get accepted to this specialized research MA). All online until then.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #731 on: February 24, 2021, 06:53:41 PM »
In person classes starting in September for me in a “phased approach” (assuming I get accepted to this specialized research MA). All online until then.

Pray tell, what is this specialised research? (why the N. American spelling - you're losing touch).

FerriswheelBueller

  • CaB rear of the year 2020
  • Silver Member
  • ****
  • Take it easy, but take it.
    • I am antsy for baseball in the off-season.
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #732 on: February 24, 2021, 09:47:35 PM »
Pray tell, what is this specialised research? (why the N. American spelling - you're losing touch).

Masters in public health; my focus would be on neighbourhood and societal cohesion.

Is there money in that? There best be or I’m snookered.

Blue Jam

  • He's like a Michel Roux cake
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #733 on: February 24, 2021, 10:33:40 PM »
Masters in public health; my focus would be on neighbourhood and societal cohesion.

Is there money in that? There best be or I’m snookered.

Sounds suitably 'viddy, go for it.

FerriswheelBueller

  • CaB rear of the year 2020
  • Silver Member
  • ****
  • Take it easy, but take it.
    • I am antsy for baseball in the off-season.
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #734 on: February 24, 2021, 10:55:33 PM »
Yeah exactly, and to be honest I was joking about money. If I felt I was doing something good in the world at the end of it, that’s enough - I’ve worked solely for money and detested it, will never do that again.

Sorry for derailing the thread.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #735 on: February 24, 2021, 10:57:40 PM »
Masters in public health; my focus would be on neighbourhood and societal cohesion.

Is there money in that? There best be or I’m snookered.

Yep, there will be a job for you in the new gov department we are tentatively setting up around public health and environment and society

FerriswheelBueller

  • CaB rear of the year 2020
  • Silver Member
  • ****
  • Take it easy, but take it.
    • I am antsy for baseball in the off-season.
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #736 on: February 24, 2021, 11:00:05 PM »
Yep, there will be a job for you in the new gov department we are tentatively setting up around public health and environment and society

Will keep you in mind when the job suitors come knocking in a few years!

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #737 on: February 25, 2021, 02:01:59 AM »
Social cohesion? Sounds a lot like that Cultural Marxism thing to me.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #738 on: April 04, 2021, 10:39:23 AM »
Just wondering how the academic CaBbers (acacabbers? cabademics?) are getting on.

Our term ended on Friday, just in time for restrictions to relax on Monday. At least this will avoid another inevitable tussle between the union and the university, which then fizzles out because our university has (some perplexing management decisions notwithstanding) generally taken a fairly sensible approach to the whole thing.

One of the advantages of starting so obscenely early in September and January (relative to everywhere else) is that we're done and dusted by the end of March. That is, apart from teaching-related activities like project marking, exam marking, exam boards, special circumstances, course monitoring, MSc projects, course development, resits, resit boards, progression interviews, all of which conspire to make it very difficult to take any time off over the summer. I was very fortunate in having all my teaching front-loaded into the first semester - nevertheless looking at my diary I see the odd week where I was spending upwards of 12 hours in meetings relating to teaching. A side effect of administration and meetings all moving online is that people seem to be increasingly assuming that if you have an afternoon in your diary without a meeting scheduled in it, that means you have no other work to be getting on with and you're fair game to have something slapped into a space where you'd hoped to work on a paper or to give some PhD students a bit of quality time that's been sorely lacking.

Students seem to be working hard and managing to learn stuff and do decent project work. However they seem to be under a lot of strain. I think this whole episode has made clear what a campus is actually for: a surprising amount gets lost by students not being able to interact casually with each other and staff, one consequence of which is that they don't feel confident about what they are supposed to be focussing on, what's the essential stuff, what's the frills around the edges and so on. Online hasn't been all bad - one thing we've found is that the medium has levelled the playing-field when it comes to students asking questions in lectures, and these are no longer the preserve of the super-confident know-all student who likes hearing their voice reverberating around a 300-seater lecture theatre and not giving a fuck about how much that annoys everyone else. But pretty much everything else is more stressful and time-consuming in the online format, mostly because the technology is shit and lets you down the whole time.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #739 on: April 04, 2021, 02:00:33 PM »
NDA?

Well now we've got through it, the University didn't want us telling students how likely it would be we'd be back on campus.

March 8th, we returned to labs anyway. Turns out Norn Iron unis hadn't closed them :/

Long, long slog of a term but through it. Online exams all ready to go. Will happily never give an online lecture ever again.


bgmnts

  • Depressed to the point of poisonous toxicity.
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #740 on: April 04, 2021, 02:03:24 PM »
Just wondering how the academic CaBbers (acacabbers? cabademics?) are getting on.

Our term ended on Friday, just in time for restrictions to relax on Monday. At least this will avoid another inevitable tussle between the union and the university, which then fizzles out because our university has (some perplexing management decisions notwithstanding) generally taken a fairly sensible approach to the whole thing.

One of the advantages of starting so obscenely early in September and January (relative to everywhere else) is that we're done and dusted by the end of March. That is, apart from teaching-related activities like project marking, exam marking, exam boards, special circumstances, course monitoring, MSc projects, course development, resits, resit boards, progression interviews, all of which conspire to make it very difficult to take any time off over the summer. I was very fortunate in having all my teaching front-loaded into the first semester - nevertheless looking at my diary I see the odd week where I was spending upwards of 12 hours in meetings relating to teaching. A side effect of administration and meetings all moving online is that people seem to be increasingly assuming that if you have an afternoon in your diary without a meeting scheduled in it, that means you have no other work to be getting on with and you're fair game to have something slapped into a space where you'd hoped to work on a paper or to give some PhD students a bit of quality time that's been sorely lacking.

Students seem to be working hard and managing to learn stuff and do decent project work. However they seem to be under a lot of strain. I think this whole episode has made clear what a campus is actually for: a surprising amount gets lost by students not being able to interact casually with each other and staff, one consequence of which is that they don't feel confident about what they are supposed to be focussing on, what's the essential stuff, what's the frills around the edges and so on. Online hasn't been all bad - one thing we've found is that the medium has levelled the playing-field when it comes to students asking questions in lectures, and these are no longer the preserve of the super-confident know-all student who likes hearing their voice reverberating around a 300-seater lecture theatre and not giving a fuck about how much that annoys everyone else. But pretty much everything else is more stressful and time-consuming in the online format, mostly because the technology is shit and lets you down the whole time.

I've re-realised that I'm just not an academic and it being totally online isn't really good for me as I dont really know what I'm meant to be doing. Obviously I'm an outlier as I'm generally a bit useless and OU is usually in a classroom but I'm not loving it. I reckon people would like the freedom though.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #741 on: April 04, 2021, 02:16:26 PM »
The biggest thing for me was the massive increase in responsibility. We're a shared department so most of the focus was on the other, larger, course. I run exams and assessments anyway and make the smaller course course tickover, but it has just been every week, a new thing. Then again, I met the minister for universities, which was nice.

The day I sent the email returning our students to campus - emotional moment actually.

I think we've done a sterling team job. One of the things that always killed me inside about academia was how it was never a team effort. But this year was.

Quote
Students seem to be working hard and managing to learn stuff and do decent project work. However they seem to be under a lot of strain. I think this whole episode has made clear what a campus is actually for: a surprising amount gets lost by students not being able to interact casually with each other and staff, one consequence of which is that they don't feel confident about what they are supposed to be focussing on, what's the essential stuff, what's the frills around the edges and so on. Online hasn't been all bad - one thing we've found is that the medium has levelled the playing-field when it comes to students asking questions in lectures, and these are no longer the preserve of the super-confident know-all student who likes hearing their voice reverberating around a 300-seater lecture theatre and not giving a fuck about how much that annoys everyone else. But pretty much everything else is more stressful and time-consuming in the online format, mostly because the technology is shit and lets you down the whole time.

Very similar here, especially the second and third sentence. On Wednesday, I had a job down in the teaching labs to do and bumped into the second years. Just a quick chat but you could tell they were missing that social interaction.

We had a clear delineation in online behaviour by cohort. The larger course Year 2s were busy and hard work, while rarely turning up to sessions. Our third years would not talk during lectures - absolute silence - but outside of lectures, when one on one, chatted away. I put that down to nerves about it being close to the end. 

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #742 on: April 04, 2021, 08:25:27 PM »
I’d say it’s been more of a team effort - particularly at first when no-one really had any idea of how to deliver the curriculum. Things seem to be more back to normal now with people sitting on their hands and hoping someone else picks up the job they don’t want to do. That said, we’re all burnt out so there’s a lot more understanding if you say “I’m sorry I just don’t have the time or headspace to do that. 

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #743 on: April 04, 2021, 09:17:29 PM »

I think this whole episode has made clear what a campus is actually for: a surprising amount gets lost by students not being able to interact casually with each other and staff

Absolutely this, coming from the perspective of someone on year one. Our course Facebook group has been full of despair of just not knowing how to even begin a project, not helped by how clunky it is for us that do know to explain over fractured messages. I don't know what level people should be at when starting a course (I'm doing an Animal Bio bachelors) but I was shocked that the majority didn't know how to write a lab report or an academic essay. The university has been quite glacial in reacting to feedback, and we were in the weird position of having a tutorial on referencing after we'd already handed in two assignments. I definitely think the universities policy of sticking stuff online and hoping students will find it was a bit misguided.

I got very pissed off with my fellow students. They gave very bad feedback to a lecturer who had done a great job, including putting on extra sessions and uploading example papers and going through them. They seemed pissed off that he wasn't telling what to write whilst doing fuck all to help themselves, despite me and another couple of students putting on extra team sessions for group chats, (which the fucking moaners didn't bother signing into) and repeatedly linking them to resources. Learnt the skill of biting my tongue, as I keep reminding myself I'm not dealing with the financial and family pressures a lot of them are going through.

On the whole, I think the lecturers have been heroic, a charismatic and helpful bunch, and from talking to friends it's not necessarily the norm. Had great fun having gaming sessions with em, was very happy to murder my Animal Management lecturer in Among us.

Personally the main part of uni for me was meeting new people and capitalizing on improving my mental health enough to be socializing and building friendships and what have you, though I'm about 10-15 years older than everyone. Academically, even I have to admit I've been smashing it, mid-firsts on everything as yet, and that's helped me connect with the others by being confident enough to offer advice.

Had the weird and quite nice situation where I was the only one turning up for animal management practicals, so I ended up having personalized lessons where the lecturer was basically, "you might as well handle all the animals". Fed a hedgehog, hugged a chinchilla, walked a donkey, grimace scored a lemming, handled a Chilean rose tarantula, and had a bosc monitor shit on me, which was hilarious and the worst smelling I've ever been. All in all a strange year that has flown past, but worthwhile whilst terrifying.


greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #744 on: April 05, 2021, 08:55:50 AM »
It's really interesting to hear that perspective.

I think it's fair to say that the existing online systems, which were always an adjunct to the live in-person stuff, weren't really designed for delivering entire degree programmes at scale. I know my own course website ended up being "a mound of stuff that we hope the students manage to find", partly because it's a patchwork of different systems (discussion boards, lecture recordings, live sessions, live audience response and hand-in assignments all live in different systems where are sort of glued together into a common front end, but only just), partly because we were instructed to follow a common template "to make it easier for students to find things" (but because there's no one-size fits all when it comes to course structures, doesn't always work) and partly because we couldn't rely on students having sufficiently reliable connections that we needed static content as a back-up. Before you know it you have an impossibly large and unnavigable site. I had some additional problems with my tutorials all being stretched out through the week (due to social distancing) rather than happening on the same day (as in the past) - this contributed to desynchronisation between students additional to the consequences of not being able to talk to each other so easily. If we end up with a similar-looking timetable next year (and I hope we don't), I do have some ideas on how to fix this.

I hear what you're saying about the transactional mindset that some students have. I guess having a bit of time away and coming in with a broader perspective you can see what's to be gained by bringing something of your own to the party. And it sounds like you've spotted that you're pushing at an open door when it comes to that: there's nothing that an academic likes more than someone who's genuinely interested in the subject and wants to learn for the hell of it (as long you don't end up stalking us). A lot of what I end up doing in 1st year teaching is trying to gently deprogram strategies that are highly optimised to pass school exams, but have little value in the context of a degree education. It's an unpleasant experience for everyone, but I've noticed that something tends to click in 3rd year and people start becoming more self-sufficient. (This is in Scotland, where there's an extra year at the start; maybe it kicks in in Y2 down south).

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #745 on: April 05, 2021, 09:06:14 AM »
Quote
It's really interesting to hear that perspective.

yeah second that. cheers.

buttgammon

  • Magnums (Magna)
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #746 on: April 05, 2021, 09:33:42 AM »
Teaching has actually gone quite well this term. The students have been great, and have clearly put so much effort in. I recently found out I teach someone who's stuck on the west coast of the US and because of scheduling conflicts, is stuck in my tutorial that is held at 4am her time. She always shows up and has insightful and interesting things to say at a time of day when most of us would be catatonic.

Research has finally hit a hitch, in that I majorly need a book that isn't available online and that I can't buy (it's from the 1920s and there's no copies for sale anywhere). According to Worldcat, there are two copies in the whole country - one in my university library and the other in the National Library, which is closed. We were previously able to waltz in and just take books from the library shelves provided we had a booking, but this particular library is closed. Ordinarily, they would happily go and get it and leave it at the counter or send it in the post but this also happens to be a reference book that can't be borrowed, so after the bank holiday, I'm going to have to beg some librarians to comb through it for the very specific (scattered) bits I'm looking for to scan them.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #747 on: April 05, 2021, 10:12:56 AM »
That's a bummer. I'm in a field where - even in normal times - if it's not online, it basically doesn't exist. We're far too lazy to faff around with libraries. That said, I've been working on some revisions to a paper recently where I really could have used the ability to waltz into the library and leaf through some textbooks. I'm left almost quoting from memory as things stand...

buttgammon

  • Magnums (Magna)
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #748 on: April 05, 2021, 10:30:38 AM »
That's a bummer. I'm in a field where - even in normal times - if it's not online, it basically doesn't exist. We're far too lazy to faff around with libraries. That said, I've been working on some revisions to a paper recently where I really could have used the ability to waltz into the library and leaf through some textbooks. I'm left almost quoting from memory as things stand...

This is the difference, that my field is by no means as heavily digital, to the extent that my department is actually quite technophobic. My supervisor isn't like that at all and even has a foot in the digital humanities and all that; he told me that when he joined (probably 10-15 years ago), all the department's communications were in comic sans. We have a legal deposit library so to some extent, there's been a bit of naivety about accessing resources, because we should theoretically have access to anything that's published here, albeit with most new books only coming in as e-books that have to be accessed on site.

That said, this book is an outlier for my own work. Most of the older material I've required has been easy to find online, and people have been very helpful with sharing things that they have scans of. It just happens that the book I need is a very specific edition and the only digital copies are earlier or later. I wouldn't envy anyone who does a lot of work with manuscripts and older physical books at this time.

dr beat

  • #TeamColourfield
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #749 on: April 05, 2021, 04:42:36 PM »
I'm currently taking a couple of weeks off.  Much-needed, although I say this as I still need to work on an application and want to catch up on some writing, but I'm very much putting emailing, meetings, marking etc to one side.  I've been very busy this term putting together several new lectures.  Over the last couple of years I've had to fight to keep my module going due to departmental politics.
So I have felt quite worn out at times, but then I find Feb/March the most challenging time of the academic year anyway.  As well as being a busy teaching period, students are starting to get anxious about deadlines and their degree in general, marking is piling up etc etc.  And its still cold and wet out.

I also totally agree with greencalx about the role of the campus and how it facilitates those casual but very important interactions between students.  I've been concerned that the level of work hasn't been quite as strong as previous years and whether its because students haven't been able to compare notes and chat about how they are approaching their work with each other.  However I've not had too much bother with meetings, if anything for us going online might have helped people think more carefully about how their time is best used.  But then most of the really pointless meetings tend to come at the behest of those outside of the department but elsewhere within the Uni, and those people have been notable by their silence.

Also thanks for your insights Poobum

Tags: