Author Topic: University Challenged  (Read 27770 times)

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #330 on: September 15, 2020, 11:06:09 PM »
Apologies for all of the mad posts -- been inundated with so many directives, intitiatives, documents, handbooks, templates (100s of pages over the past month or so) on top of the crazy workload, and then all of the last minute reversals and changes, I hardly know if I'm coming or going anymore.

Latest thing is a note from the VC's office that staff are responsible to noting any signs of covid in our students and making sure they fill out a boatload of forms, &c.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #331 on: September 15, 2020, 11:13:28 PM »
Quote
Latest thing is a note from the VC's office that staff are responsible to noting any signs of covid in our students and making sure they fill out a boatload of forms, &c.

Again, that's mental. And - basically - not our job.

The guidance we have, and I quote directly, is that "If anyone shows any symptoms of Covid-19 while in the lab, contact Campus Safety ... immediately. They will be removed from the lab and taken to the ground floor first aid room, where appropriate guidance, support and first aid will be provided."

It may not be perfect, I am sure its got loopholes, but it feels sane.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #332 on: September 16, 2020, 11:02:08 AM »
Yes, I must say that the problems we're experiencing here are very much in the "First World" category compared to what Attila is going through.

BlodwynPig

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #333 on: September 16, 2020, 11:08:07 AM »
I sort of wish I was back at the office to see these things unfold in real time.

Blue Jam

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #334 on: September 16, 2020, 12:32:30 PM »
Yes, I must say that the problems we're experiencing here are very much in the "First World" category compared to what Attila is going through.

Yes, I've just had an email from the lab manager telling us that as our lab building was the "test case" for the whole of The University of Embra we'll also be ramping up our already OTT anti-Covid measures in preparation for a potential return to Lockdown Phase 2. Lucky us... Nah, I'd rather we were being overprotected than thrown to the wolves, I feel for you Attila.

No undergrads in our building either now. That's a big relief. Though I guess the medics will still be attending tutorials elsewhere on campus so I'll be trying to cycle in more and getting the bus in less often.

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #335 on: September 16, 2020, 05:18:08 PM »
Cheers, all -- apologies for going all whingey every time I post!

Who knows, maybe everything'll fall into some sort of rhythm once the semester starts...I don't expect much in the way of down time, as it's going to be a constant scramble to get materials sorted, especially with all of the meetings suddenly springing up (people seem to have the attitude, hey, it's on Teams, no excuses not to attend! Plus we can keep adding and adding and adding them, cos all you have to do is dial in, right?

I just sat through an ethics 'training session' with mike and camera off, folding my washing and doing some general tidying that I haven't had any time for).

I don't even want to think about spring semester, trying to do everything that I'm doing now crammed into the short xmas break + all of the marking that will be due.

I honestly cannot figure out the colleagues who are bragging on Twitter about all of the research they're doing at the moment, reading, writing drafts, travelling to archives -- how?....

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #336 on: September 17, 2020, 07:00:02 AM »
There’s still a little bit too much that’s up in the air for my liking, but partly this is because I’m the kind of person who likes to have everything nailed down months in advance and all contingencies explored, whereas I get the impression that others in the organisation actively enjoy being in essay crisis mode.

We’ll get there, but I could do without the sleepless nights.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #337 on: September 17, 2020, 07:56:15 AM »
There’s still a little bit too much that’s up in the air for my liking, but partly this is because I’m the kind of person who likes to have everything nailed down months in advance and all contingencies explored, whereas I get the impression that others in the organisation actively enjoy being in essay crisis mode.

We’ll get there, but I could do without the sleepless nights.

Similar here, but I do find the latter cohort in the department slightly hard to tolerate now that we're, you know, no longer students.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #338 on: September 17, 2020, 08:01:08 AM »
Yes, I've just had an email from the lab manager telling us that as our lab building was the "test case" for the whole of The University of Embra we'll also be ramping up our already OTT anti-Covid measures in preparation for a potential return to Lockdown Phase 2. Lucky us... Nah, I'd rather we were being overprotected than thrown to the wolves, I feel for you Attila.

Our institution is quite federated and although there’s supposed to be a common set of rules / principles, some units are more zealous about generating their own unnecessary local by-laws than others. I asked our H&S manager if I had completed all the training to get back into my office for teaching - as I was fairly sure there were some magic secret online modules behind a third party portal that an email search failed to locate. The answer was effectively a shrug, so I take it that I am fully compliant with the legislation...

Been talking to UG students this week. They seem to be pleased to have something to do in their lives again, and they all seem to understand the principle of responsible behaviour. Whether this gets put into practice remains to be seen.

greencalx

  • Never knowingly knowledgeable
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #339 on: September 17, 2020, 08:03:05 AM »
Similar here, but I do find the latter cohort in the calendar slightly hard to tolerate now that we're, you know, no longer students.

Ha. I have form for making this point in staff meetings. Generally speaking, the staff that whinge the most about students display the same characteristics as colleagues.

Puce Moment

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #340 on: September 17, 2020, 01:31:08 PM »
If anyone knows about webcams or using a laptop as a webcam to enable a user to use Zoom/Teams better for teaching I would appreciate it greatly.

https://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=82686.msg4321112#msg4321112

dr beat

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #341 on: September 17, 2020, 01:59:23 PM »
There’s still a little bit too much that’s up in the air for my liking, but partly this is because I’m the kind of person who likes to have everything nailed down months in advance and all contingencies explored, whereas I get the impression that others in the organisation actively enjoy being in essay crisis mode.

We’ll get there, but I could do without the sleepless nights.

I find most of my department operates in essay crisis mode at the best of times, and its most frustrating as I think more work is created through people not planning ahead, taking a bit of time to think things through and considering smart ways of addressing problems.  I worry that the culture in my dept is leading people to reinvent wheels with regard to teaching online.  So much more heat than light.

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #342 on: September 17, 2020, 04:15:07 PM »
If anyone knows about webcams or using a laptop as a webcam to enable a user to use Zoom/Teams better for teaching I would appreciate it greatly.

https://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=82686.msg4321112#msg4321112

Rudely glomming on to this request for suggestions for a decent webcam w/mike, please -- we have to use laptops at the moment in the classroom rather than the far more robust and bigger desktop computers. Teams will eat through a laptop battery in about 70 mins or so, uselsss when I have four or five seminars in a row.


Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #343 on: September 17, 2020, 04:16:29 PM »
On the positive side, certain types of students will never change.

Best pre-semester freshman email so far: rando student in the humanities (which covers about 7 departments and god knows how many courses and programmes) sent a group email to about 30 of us, single line, 'So are any lectures/classes online this semester, or what?'


Re: University Challenged
« Reply #344 on: September 18, 2020, 10:28:32 AM »
"online poll" - everycunt sayin "online poll" what the fuck is "online poll", and how I use teach?

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #345 on: September 18, 2020, 12:50:26 PM »
Dear colleagues: Yes, classes start on Monday. Stop emailing me to ask how to record videos and how does Team recording work and how do you Stream -- because you've waited til today to make any attempt to record a lecture. There have been training sessions and 1-2-1 tutorials available for weeks at this point. In fact, I was made fun of for trying to engage in them weeks ago, raising many of the same questions I'm now getting from colleagues who've had a peek at my Canvas pages and want to know how I've embedded lectures and activities, and why it's not taking me 4 hours to record a single 45 min lecture anymore...

Colloeague on my programme and I were on a Teams call this morning having a chat. He's collected the face shields we're supposed to us. Very cheap piece of plastic held together by an elastic strap that over-stretches the first time you try to use it. They are obviously bulk-made crap like the freebie stuff you can buy in bulk to hand out at conferences (like cheap pens and that). Awful piece of kit, an absolute joke -- he's also seen people wearing them backwards (shield in front, but with the foam part that's meant to rest against your head facing out) and with the protective film still covering the plastic part.

Even better news: he did the Year 1 meet and greet on Wednesday, and had to do it on campus as part of freshers' week initiatives to show them that we're all about being on campus.

He was there, about 15 of our 20-student course cohort were there, a couple of admins came in (as they were visiting all of the fresher meetings), student union pres. A few other guests.

Email from one of the Year 1s this morning: 'Hi, I've had to go into isolation as my roommate is showing symptoms of Covid. If her test comes back negative we're ok, I guess?'

So we're looking at the possibility of a single student leading to a lockdown/isolation of how many? And we've not even formally started classes yet.

Then the dean sends out an email this morning admitting that half the tech plans and hybrid learning plans are still a bit of a muddle, and yeah, everything is probably going to be a huge clustefuck next week -- so could we all report back as 'beta testers' and let them know how our clases go, so they can work on any changes that we might need to implement.

::pulls party popper::

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #346 on: September 18, 2020, 12:52:21 PM »
same here

BlodwynPig

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #347 on: September 18, 2020, 01:42:44 PM »
I'm looking for talented academics to join my team here at JBC ;)

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #348 on: September 18, 2020, 02:47:18 PM »
At this point, I just have to laugh: a colleague who is leading one of the big modules -- ie, the entire year cohort is on it, and we're all contributing various lectures -- is in a state of panic, as he's just now seen that the students have full administrator and editing privileges on the bespoke Team created for that module.

One of the students has sent out, over the past hour, 30+ invites for people to join him in meetings on that Team stream, and has been uploading files, photos, and all sorts of things on the Team. Nothing untoward (not at the moment), but pretty much just running rampant on this page which is meant to be reserved for class meetings, files, and other materials -- and only tutors are supposed to be permitted to have this access.

It's going to be a complete and utter clusterfuck from next week, isn't it.

Puce Moment

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #349 on: September 18, 2020, 02:58:01 PM »
Our teaching starts on the 5 October which will be useful as it gives us a chance to see all the fuckups before we start.

I am pretty sure that the limited f2f teaching we are expected to do (that I will 100% definitely NOT be doing) will be vetoed before then anyway.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #350 on: September 18, 2020, 03:08:30 PM »
we're full-on f2f - no blended, just ploughing headfirst into Covid soup

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #351 on: September 18, 2020, 03:24:33 PM »
Is anyone else attempting (or being forced) to teach seminars concurrently, i.e., with some students online while others attend in person?

It seems to me that this is the worst of all possible worlds, and is likely to leave everyone unsatisfied and the lecturer run ragged.

It also contradicts most of the previous guidance/educational theory about teaching online, which stresses how different online learning is from teaching in a regular classroom, and argues that it therefore requires a different approach in order to succeed.

Re: University Challenged
« Reply #352 on: September 18, 2020, 03:31:04 PM »
Nope because it's impossible. Offering 1-2-1 online support for students who miss sessions with an "authorised absence".

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #353 on: September 18, 2020, 04:21:49 PM »
Is anyone else attempting (or being forced) to teach seminars concurrently, i.e., with some students online while others attend in person?

It seems to me that this is the worst of all possible worlds, and is likely to leave everyone unsatisfied and the lecturer run ragged.

It also contradicts most of the previous guidance/educational theory about teaching online, which stresses how different online learning is from teaching in a regular classroom, and argues that it therefore requires a different approach in order to succeed.

Yup -- that's my university. It's not going to work.

100% online or 100% in the classroom would be way better for seminars. Most of my seminars are based on small group work and workshops, peer-reviews of drafts, &c.

We've already run a few welcome week orientations online, and 100% of the students who attended kept their cameras and mikes off. Just a wall of avatars. No one speaks up, no one has asked a question. No one has answered any questions. You have no idea if you're getting any reactions, positive or negative, just looking at gormless student ID photos. This happened at the end of last semester, too, when we were doing quick and dirty live sessions -- students would join in, then sit there silently, so you ended up feeling like a fool talking to the camera, since you had no reaction from any of the students.

You can't tell me that they aren't going to log in and go off and do something else during that hour -- I have done similar during the mad training sessions we've had at various points over the summer.

I plan to practice the guitar during a useless two-hour mental health counselling training workshop we're meant to have in two weeks (not mental health for us -- another initiative at my university is to force a percentage of staff in each dept to take on a roster of 20-30 students and act as mental-health counsellors and advisors over their 3 years. Absolute shite -- two hours powerpoints to 'train' me to do what my cousin, a genuine child psychologist, has been studying, training, and practicing for almost 40 years).

Hybrid learning is going to be absolute shit -- I'd rather give the lectures live and do seminars completely online.

We simply do not have the classroom configuration for seminars, not with social distancing. One colleague has been plunked down in an enormous lecture hall for seminar with her 18 students (it otherwise seats 150 people).

Not only do I have to do the seminar type with half the students there, and half dialled in, I have other seminars are are 'too big' for that type of blended learning, so I have to teach two smaller groups the same material, back to back. I wouldn't care if it were two lectures back to back. I did that in the USA a lot. But leading two different seminar groups back to back is exhausting, especially if you get one group that's really quiet, and one group that's lively.

We have to record all seminars, even if all of the students are there in person (the smaller groups all meet in person). In the case of two seminars on the same module: we have to record them so that students on Seminar A see Seminar A's recording ONLY, and students on Seminar B see Seminar B material only. Except at the moment, Teams isn't letting people set up exclusive streams.

None of this shit works, none of it has been beta-tested; many of the classrooms, a colleague discovered today, do not have HDMI cables.

We have been advised that it might be easier to use the laptop as a webcam, and actually teach using Teams through the desktop. THEN WHY NOT SUPPLY WEBCAMS INSTEAD OF SHITTY LAPTOPS?

I am shouting into a void, I know.

Puce Moment

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #354 on: September 18, 2020, 04:32:16 PM »
You really shouldn't be agreeing to teaching f2f at this point. I mean, your line managers should be protecting you.

There is no way I am stepping foot in a teaching room, and my colleagues feel the same. It's going to be a game of chicken/Mexican standoff in a couple of weeks I assume.

The students I have spoken could not give two fucks about online teaching. Many of them are delighted that they can wake up and attend a seminar in bed whilst eating their corn flakes.

buttgammon

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #355 on: September 18, 2020, 04:55:32 PM »
Chaos reigns here. They started allocating teaching hours yesterday...just as the government's scientific advisors told them to lock down the city and impose restrictions on universities. It's now confirmed that we will be under restrictions for at least three weeks.

They will use every trick in the book to get us teaching f2f and they already seem to be using vague wording in a joint statement issued by the three main universities here that they will "use discretion" in deciding whether to take a particular class online or not.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: University Challenged
« Reply #356 on: September 18, 2020, 05:25:21 PM »
Solidarity, but I'm sort of glad I didn't get those lecturer positions I applied for earlier in the year...even it means swimming in the belly of the beast instead.

Attila

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #357 on: September 18, 2020, 05:26:03 PM »
PS -- gawwd, the VC just sent around an email saying our campus is now fully open, and there are 'no confirmed cases of covid on campus or in the area.'

Seriously?

Seriously?!

According to the tracker I look at, there have been 32 reported cases of covid in the city and environs around that city in the past 24 hours.

And that we are to come onto campus and teach unless we can demonstrate authentically that we have covid symptoms, or that we have been asked through the government's track and trace to remain in isolation.

They're also ragging on students who are having parties and gatherings of more than 6 people. And they're supplying students with a handy form to rat on each other if they see any gatherings of 6 or more on campus.

ETA -- so they are adamant that we MUST teach on campus and that there is NO covid on my campus, and anyone who tries to teach from home/online only could face disciplinary action unless they can demonstrate with full documentation why they can't be on campus.

Alberon

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #358 on: September 18, 2020, 05:30:27 PM »
More on preparing classrooms for Covid. We had to label some tables near the front out of use because they're too near the lecturer or whiteboard (where the lecturer might stand).

Classes have not properly got going for most and we've already had one lecturer peel off all the 'don't sit here' labels for their class.

So in response we've had to physically remove the furniture because we can't trust the academics.

I despair.

Puce Moment

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Re: University Challenged
« Reply #359 on: September 18, 2020, 05:39:13 PM »
I think the UCU have the best grounds possible at the moment to call a national strike, in partnership with Unison. Our UCU branch has already told the VC that we won't be teaching f2f unless they can prove with scientific data that there is a negligible chance of contracting or spreading the virus. Which they can't, of course.

I've already had covid once, I also have chronic asthma. I probably cannot drink caffeine or alcohol for the rest of my life, if I want to protect my renal system. They would need to lead me into a classroom at gunpoint. I know that sounds a little dramatic but I'm just prepared to do something so stupid it could kill me. I'm more careful with the drugs I take than the Uni is about our safety. The issue, of course, is that they know that serious/fatal cases amongst groups of 18-21 year-olds is so low that they can throw a dice on all of us half-dead middle aged cunts with depleted immune systems.

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