As part of our institutional response to the current COVID-19 situation, and particularly its implications for teaching and assessment, we want to bring the following to your attention. These matters have been discussed with student academic representatives; they have supported the proposed changes and also made helpful suggestions as to their implementation.
1. Electronic teaching: We believe it unlikely that face-to-face teaching will happen during the summer term, and that online teaching will therefore need to take its place. Some students are already used to electronic mode of delivery as part of their pathway, but particularly for those who are not, we are suggesting that you might check that you have the equipment you will need for this. If you have concerns/questions about e-learning, and your own capacity/ability in this regard, please be in contact with your personal tutor to discuss the matter with them.
As a minimum, you will need online access, and ideally a web cam and microphone (either connected to your PC, or built-in to a laptop or tablet device) to support you in your learning; we expect that modules will normally include shared online gathering points, and it is good to be able to speak to/view each other when doing so. We anticipate that e-learning will be delivered through Moodle (and its associated Big Blue Button video resourcing) and Zoom (https://zoom.us/). We would therefore encourage you to sign up with Zoom (using the free account option), and practice using it, so that you can familiarise yourself with its functionality. We are aware of some of the issues that have been raised in respect of Zoom usage, and continue to monitor those, but feel that it still remains appropriate for us to use it in the present circumstances.
2. Assignments: We do not plan on giving blanket extensions on assignments, as such extensions can often fail to take account of the complexity of a student’s own personal context/situation (and can also just add pressure later on). However, we are of course wanting to be cognisant of the various ways in which the present situation is affecting you, and wish to be generous in taking account of that. Hence, if you are needing an extension, please apply for one in the normal way – via your PT – and please give them the full details of how you yourself are being impacted, and what that might mean for you in terms of a new submission date. We would encourage you to be realistic in this, and try to take account of all your deadlines, so please do consider an Independent Learning Plan that incorporates all your deadlines, if you and your PT think that would be helpful/necessary. See the relevant section/guidance on Moodle.
Allied to this, we do not anticipate access to e.g. library resources will become available in the immediate future; therefore we wish to discourage extension requests merely to await access to further resources (except in the case of dissertations and independent research projects where the particularity and/or specificity of the source material may require awaiting their availability). Instead, we would encourage you to use existing online resources via the library website, e-books, or the Common Awards HUB; markers will be encouraged to affirm the various approaches you use in this regard, and to recognise that you will not have had the chance to use as wide a range as normal. Module tutors will also be giving particular guidance in module handbooks on resources that might be available online.
3. Term Dates: There will necessarily be changes to the modules you would be undertaking in the summer term 2020, and equally a knock-on to those undertaken in autumn 2020. For example, because placements cannot take place in the summer, and because placement teaching/support needs to accompany the “doing” of them, we plan to move placement modules to the autumn term for both full-time and part-time students. This means re-timetabling summer term modules to run in the autumn term, and, in their place, bringing forward some autumn term modules (those that are more appropriate for online learning) into the summer term.
We will be speaking to student cohorts more specifically about the particular details of how this might affect you, but want to say that, at least for some Track 1 students, there will be a shortening of the summer term and an earlier start to the autumn term. We anticipate therefore that, for some students, the autumn term will begin on Monday 7th September, but please note that we will only notify students affected by this change, so if you do not hear otherwise, the previously published start of term dates apply.
(Edited by Simon Davies - original submission Monday, 6 April 2020, 3:29 PM)