University Challenged

Started by Alberon, March 16, 2020, 10:17:12 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

greencalx

I think this depends a lot on what "blended learning" turns out to be. If it's moving the less interactive parts of teaching into videos that can be rewatched, freeing up live time to do something more interesting that's one thing. If it's moving the interactive stuff online as a ruse to increase class sizes without building any estate, that's another. Particularly if the idea is to go "true hybrid" and have to manage local and remote participation simultaneously.

So while it's true that the staff costs in online teaching are the same, it's not obvious it justifies the same high fee because it's no longer having to finance the room that students are sitting this. Combined with an enthusiasm for "hybrid working" where you get staff paying for their own offices as well, you start to see why university managers a might be attracted to this sort of stuff.

Quote from: mjwilson on July 05, 2021, 06:00:02 PM
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/jul/05/manchester-university-sparks-backlash-with-plan-to-keep-lectures-online

I think my favourite bit is

QuoteProf Danielle George, head of blended learning, confirmed in a clip of the interview shared with the Guardian that this would mean large lectures would stay online, since they are "didactic and non-interactive". However, she said "there isn't that much across the university" which is not interactive.

We're juggling this at the moment. The reality is that almost all of us don't deliver purely didactic lectures anymore so this absolutely feels like:

QuoteIf it's moving the interactive stuff online as a ruse to increase class sizes without building any estate, that's another.

The last time this came up - see previous page - I concluded with:

QuoteSo yeah, I don't see the benefit, I don't see how we make it happen and I don't see how we make it work starting in September. Happy times.

I think we've got a plan, so long as its all a bit informal and we can get the big lecture rooms still.

Just been appointed an external examiner at a solid department, which is an interesting opportunity.

greencalx

I've just come out of two days of external examining (my alma mater as it happens) and am about to go into another one tomorrow. It wasn't supposed to overlap, but my previous engagement got covid-extended. It's a very interesting experience, and apart from learning someone else's weird and crazy rules and regulations around exam marks, you get to steal all their best ideas. That and being able to come up with some ill-considered suggestions at the end of the board meeting that sound superficially straightforward but are probably going to upset everyone for a few months.

Alberon

Our uni is planning to keep social distancing and mask rules the same through the summer, but we're gearing up to have students back in the classroom without social distancing in the autumn. The only restriction on filling every classroom is ventilation. In short, if there aren't enough windows, the amount of students who can be in there is reduced.

God knows how we're going to make sure the lecturers keep all the windows open in the winter though.

buttgammon

Quote from: Alberon on July 14, 2021, 07:18:09 PM
Our uni is planning to keep social distancing and mask rules the same through the summer, but we're gearing up to have students back in the classroom without social distancing in the autumn. The only restriction on filling every classroom is ventilation. In short, if there aren't enough windows, the amount of students who can be in there is reduced.

God knows how we're going to make sure the lecturers keep all the windows open in the winter though.

You have windows? Miles ahead of us!

oustropique

Results day for me. Graduating with a first in an arts subject. For the record, I've benefitted tremendously from remote study this year, in terms of marks and being able to concentrate. Checking this thread all year has been a periodic horror show, but my uni has been pretty supportive and forgiving over this period.

Bernice

Congrats oustropique, you clever bugger. Glad remote study worked out for you.

Found out today that we'll be moved out of our shiny new office into a proper dump come September, to accommodate students being back on campus, distancing and needing our space. Which is fine like, I can't really complain, but it was a nice office.

BlodwynPig

Quote from: oustropique on July 15, 2021, 09:44:28 AM
Results day for me. Graduating with a first in an arts subject. For the record, I've benefitted tremendously from remote study this year, in terms of marks and being able to concentrate. Checking this thread all year has been a periodic horror show, but my uni has been pretty supportive and forgiving over this period.

Congrats, seen some of your stuff in HS art, 2:1 i said, but what do i know aboot art?

bgmnts

Quote from: oustropique on July 15, 2021, 09:44:28 AM
Results day for me. Graduating with a first in an arts subject. For the record, I've benefitted tremendously from remote study this year, in terms of marks and being able to concentrate. Checking this thread all year has been a periodic horror show, but my uni has been pretty supportive and forgiving over this period.

Smartarse!

Mega congratulations. I hope to follow. Already passed my first module with two assignments to go so I may carry on with the studies.

Ferris

Quote from: oustropique on July 15, 2021, 09:44:28 AM
Results day for me. Graduating with a first in an arts subject. For the record, I've benefitted tremendously from remote study this year, in terms of marks and being able to concentrate. Checking this thread all year has been a periodic horror show, but my uni has been pretty supportive and forgiving over this period.

Missed this, congrats!

Arts degrees are great, don't let 'em tell you otherwise.

Ferris.
BA (Hons.) Philosophy

Bernice

Yeah, I've got two of the fuckers and look at me now!

Well done to you too, bgmnts, hope you stick with it.

oustropique

Thanks, all. Good luck to bgmnts. I realise my good experience is anecdotal, but it's proof that the old system of pure face-to-face isn't something to be immediately reverted to, just iterated upon, because it can be done well.

air con broken in lab == :(

Over 50 % of PhDs in department pinged within 24 hours. All labs closed. Haha ... ha ... ha.

greencalx

Our labs have been open since the first lockdown ended, albeit with quite limited room capacities. Not aware of a pingdemic up here, but in Scotland you don't need the app to check into venues so it probably isn't as widely used. (My phone's too old to run it anyway).

In other news, I see that pretty girls are getting to open their envelopes across the UK today. I'm interested to see how this incoming cohort fares, having had the last two years of school disrupted, rather than just the last term. There's a particularly interesting dimension for Scottish students, who are generally made offers on the basis of Highers results while staying at school to do Advanced Highers. Our perception is that, without the need to pass those Adv Highers, some students tend to take the foot off the pedal in their final year at school. So if that part of their education was disrupted, the consequences would not have been too severe. However this year they'll be entering on teacher-assessed-during-lockdown Highers, so it will be interesting to see what difference (if any) that makes. If our current student population is anything to go by, its the general wellbeing and isolation arising from online/remote study that's more of an issue than loss of knowledge through a lack of in-person teaching. Academically, both at my own institution and where I am an external examiner, students have performed well, if not better than before. However, they are much less cheerful about it. (I know this doesn't apply to everyone, but that's the general trend I'm seeing).

greencalx

One way system in my building is now gone, resulting in a massive boost to my mental well-being. Probably be back in most days once term gets going...

Ferris

Uni is officially mandating proof of vaccination to be on campus. If you opted out of vaccination for religious or personal reasons, you have to submit to testing 2x a week at own expense and provide that to the university. I think you get booted out if you argue with those terms.

Looks like that is going to be the norm here - a few other universities in the province have followed suit already.

Is that type of thing happening in the UK?

greencalx

Nope. Weirdly this seems only to be a thing in the "free world".

Norton Canes

I see Gavin Williamson was at Northumbria University today (at least, I think it was him) pontificating on the merits of face-to-face teaching. I hope the notable CABers of that parish were there to make things uncomfortable for him wherever possible.

Alberon

In our uni Social Distancing is gone, but limits on classroom sizes based on ventilation are in place. Masks are still to be worn inside buildings.

Apparently some academics are opposing face to face teaching, though many here think that's on the basis that many of them simply prefer working from home as they have done for the last year and a half.

Quote from: Norton Canes on September 09, 2021, 05:04:31 PM
I see Gavin Williamson was at Northumbria University today (at least, I think it was him) pontificating on the merits of face-to-face teaching. I hope the notable CABers of that parish were there to make things uncomfortable for him wherever possible.

He did one speech today on that topic by video link.

Norton Canes

Poor standards of BBC journalism again.

QuoteTrying to teach "complex molecular biology techniques" was much harder over Zoom, he told the conference at Northumbria University

...over Zoom.

Ferris

Quote from: greencalx on September 03, 2021, 10:05:34 PM
Nope. Weirdly this seems only to be a thing in the "free world".

That does seem a bit odd - it seems so achievable and universities are hubs for national and international travel.

I submitted my proof of vaccine yesterday onto our student profile/web portal thing (otherwise I wasn't allowed to go to an orientation event in the afternoon). I doubt the jack-booted uni heavies would chuck me on the other side of the road if I didn't submit it, but still.

Alberon

Welcome Week at my university coming up next week.

Everybody ready?

Attila

Spent about 8 hours on campus today -- original plan was to go in for a Welcome Week meet and greet. and my colleague told me the wrong time, but never mind that now.

My university is pretending covid no longer exists -- no masks, no social distancing, nothing. All the hygiene stuff removed from the classrooms. I had to attend one meet and greet this morning that was about 80 Year 1s packed into a classroom, no masks in sight. Loads of social events going on (treasure hunts are big at my university, so there were roaming packs of 15-20 students crammed into hallways and rooms looking for stuff.) I am on 7 modules this semester, including one where 15 of us are packed into a 10 x 15 conference room.

I fully expect to cop a dose of covid at some point; the question is pretty much when and how badly.

Not even going to get into the clusterfuck of some of the new rules about how we're meant to record classes and all of the multi-layer security log-ins we now have on top of wondering when the covid is going to strike.

All this week are organised social events, plus of course the usual students-have-fun parties and events in the halls. Fresher flu usually sweeps through the campus by about week 3, so we'll see.

Alberon

We no longer have social distancing but the capacity of rooms are limited by ventilation. The windows are supposed to be open all the time but we'll see how well that is kept to in winter.

Luckily I'm not a lecturer so I can keep the students at a distance.

greencalx

Christ, Attila...

Things are still quiet with us, despite it being Welcome Week this week. I've not been down to the main campus so am not sure what is happening there, but my building had enough people in it that you'd occasionally bump into someone in the corridor and have a chat, but not so many that I wanted to go a different way.

Classes are capped at 50, so lectures are still online and in principle most tutorials, workshops and (crucially) labs are in-person. I think it will be ok - we were working on a 1m planning assumption which got relaxed a little. Given that, after the first week, you never get a full-house anyway, I anticipate that all in-person classes will be 1m distanced. Students are required to wear masks, but staff aren't (these are the Scot Gov rules). I've met this week with about 20 students in-person. All of them masked up and proudly bearing their jabs, apart from one who was concerned they were showing symptoms so stayed home for a test (negative). I'm participating in the in-house screening programme and although I'm skeptical as to its sensitivity, it's reassuring to get a negative result every three days. I'm not too worried, although if I were working in the UG office I might be...

There will no doubt be a wave as the students press each other together in sweaty environments, and we'll get blamed for it, even though we're about the only place left with any social distancing to speak of.

EDIT: there seems to be a bit of Fresher's flu going about, but if everyone thinks it might be covid, stays in and get tested, ironically, this might help us avoid the start-of-term spike...

poo

Full-on f-2-f - same as last year

buttgammon

We're not entirely f2f here - large lectures are staying online but tutorials are all in-person, in my department anyway. Masks will be required in class and students have to sit 1m apart (fair enough) but the ventilation is shit and most of the rooms we use are in a building that has hardly any windows, so there are still problems.