University for All at Distance

COVID-19 Updates

Click here for an accessible version of this webpage

While the UCD Access and Lifelong Learning Centre is currently closed, we are still here to support you and continue to make UCD a University for All - virtually! 

We are always happy to hear from you; our emails are checked regularly, Monday to Friday (9am to 5pm), so please contact us at all@ucd.ie or disability@ucd.ie if you have any questions or concerns and we'll get back to you within 24 hours.

We have compiled some useful resources for students and advice for academic and professional staff to aid in the transition to at-distance teaching and learning at UCD. You'll also find a list of answers to some of our more frequently asked questions below.

Please also ensure to familiarise yourself with the advice of the HSE, as well as general updates from UCD.

Resources, Advice, and FAQs

A group of five icons representing some of our resources, including assistive technology and collaborative support

To support you in the transition to at distance teaching and learning

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Engagement

If you are a peer mentor, Future You mentor or a PATH community mentor make sure you continue to engage in this role. You are an important part of UCD’s community and your mentorship and friendship to others is now more important than ever. Reach out to your mentees, your classmates and friends and make sure we all stay connected. If you have the time you can even volunteer to help others in your community who may be feeling particularly isolated at the moment. 

If you work with UCD ALL as a mentor you’ll be hearing directly from our outreach team to tell you how we will keep our mentoring programmes active and engaging. 


Teaching & Learning

Learning at distance is a new challenge for most students but remember we are here to support you. You can brush up on your academic skills using our online resources, attend some of our live online workshops, or listen back to the recordings made available afterwards. 

If you’re having any difficulties with engaging it’s important to let your module coordinator know so we can all find a solution. 


Student Supports and Services

UCD ALL provides lots of resources to help you manage stress and practice self-care. Check out these videos on minding your mental health and designing your routine developed by Occupational Therapists. Check out all of our resources and use our guide to study and exam preparation. We will be offering a live self-care workshop Friday 3rd April at 1pm on Zoom with a recording made available afterwards.

Remember the supports you had previously are still in place. 

  • The Maths Support Centre are offering online maths support from Monday, March 23rd until the end of revision week Friday, May 1st. You can book a session online.
  • The Writing Support Centre offers a variety of downloadable resources on how to write an essay and improve your academic writing. They are using Google Meet to do writing support sessions. If you are stuck with your writing; unsure about the structure of the essay/literature review/reflective piece/report, or other assignments/projects you have to do; unsure about the way you are developing or phrasing your ideas; or if you have other questions about writing, you could make an appointment here (the instructions are on this page, too, and further instructions in the confirmation email, once you book an appointment)
  • UCD Library also offers a range of online resources which you should investigate including a guide to remote access

 

Your Study Space

Our Occupational Therapists have put together a video guide on how to set up a study/exam space in your home to benefit your studies, while also maintaining separate spaces for productivity and relaxation. Please also check out these helpful tips on working from home and increasing the effectiveness of your space. 

While normally you may be used to moving from location to location for your study, it is likely you are now working from just one place. It is important your workspace is set up in the best way possible to help you achieve your best productivity and to keep your body healthy. Check our these top 10 tips to be comfortable at your desk and a useful ergonomic guide from TCD

There are also some technology options that may make your physical space more ergonomic. For example, sitting at a computer screen for a long time can become uncomfortable. One way to reduce this time if you have a lot of reading material to get through is to use text-to-speech software and listen to articles being read aloud. 

Spending a long time on the computer can also strain your eyes, which can lead to fatigue or headaches. One way to alleviate this is to use a screen-masking tool like MyStudyBar from EduApps or change the built-in display settings on your desktop or laptop. This will allow you to change the contrast and colour schemes, enlarge your cursor, mouse pointer and icons, or turn on the magnifier. You may need to try out a few different settings to find the one that works best for you. Another tool which can help you to focus is a highlight bar, which highlights the line of text you are reading, or you can opt to change the colour of the text as it is being read. Again, there are a number of tools that can do this such as Immersive Reader which is available under the View tab in Microsoft Word and ReadSpeaker TextAid


Your Technology

It’s important that you remain engaged with your programme even when at distance. Check your email regularly for updates and information on assessment and teaching. You should also check UCD’s frequently asked questions frequently as they are regularly updated as the situation changes. 

Collaborate 
Many of your lectures may now be delivered through the Collaborate Virtual Classroom in Brightspace. If you are not familiar with Collaborate, this handy guide created by Will Smith from the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering will give you a great overview on how to use it. 

If you would like to rewatch or download your virtual classes, you can find out how in this video guide

Accessing Books Remotely

As well as being able to access ebooks through the UCD Library, there are thousands of academic titles available through NCBI's Bookshare EasyReader app.  

This app is available to anyone with a print impairment and books are provided in a number of digital formats. You can download the app and search for the books you need but in order to download them, you must complete this registration form and email it to lina.kouzi@ncbi.ie 

(Please note that the form does not currently need to be completed by our office).

Assistive Technology
We have further information about a range of Assistive Technology solutions relating to exam and classroom accommodations available in our FAQs below.

We appreciate that you are working hard to adjust and reshape elements of your teaching and assessment. We want to assure you that we will support you in whatever way possible, so that all students can participate as fully as possible. Much of the advice below is drawn from our Toolkit for Inclusive Higher Education - physical copies are available upon email request to all@ucd.ie  

There are 3 Principles of Inclusivity that will assist you - flexibility, accessibility and engagement. We have developed a Brightspace module “Universal Design for Brightspace” that will give some additional tips and tricks: please feel free to self-enrol. 

Flexibility: Being as flexible as possible in the content you deliver, how you deliver it and how you assess students, results in you needing to make less bespoke arrangements. Flexibility also enables all students to thrive if they have the opportunity to learn in a way that suits them best.

Accessibility: Think about how you can maximise the accessibility of your materials, now that students no longer have access to physical libraries and may have limited time. Using technology, such as lecture slides, class readings or help with note taking.

Engagement: at this time many of us are all feeling a little isolated. Embedding simple engagement activities may help. Starting a discussion board or asking students to contribute to FAQs are low stress ways for you to engage your students with each other, the content and with you.

Some suggestions and ideas that may help as you prepare your Teaching & Learning  

  1. Recordings of all classes that are readily downloadable are very helpful to students as they create a sense of staying connected, even at a distance. It is best to record synchronous sessions and enable downloading of recordings in the Session Settings before you start the class. 
  2. Use integrated and familiar platforms. While many of us look for new methods of teaching and learning, it is important that we don’t over-complicate the situation for students. Using the tools available through Brightspace such as Collaborate Ultra or Google Apps (particularly useful for collaboration and groupwork). 
  3. Clarity of Communication is even more critical now, when students are distant from us. Making sure students know how to contact you and when you will be able to reply, as we know, provides reassurance and helps reduce stress and anxiety.
  4. Using a Programmatic approach will be helpful for students, but also for you. Work with your colleagues to find the best methods across the programme e.g. not using multiple platforms across modules.
  5. Flexibility is even more critical during these challenging times. For example, facilitating students to engage at their own pace, to work around new time commitments, child care, and other family responsibilities, is needed now more than ever. Facilitating flexibility around assessment will also be needed. For example, timed online exams that must be completed in a very short window of time, are not designed with flexibility in mind. Unfortunately these types of online assessments may lead to a higher number of applications for extenuating circumstances, which we know can cause additional stress and anxiety for students, and may also be a further burden on your time. 
  6. We know that practice makes perfect as the adage goes - so if you are planning to use a new assessment method for final exams, giving students sample exams would be very helpful. Sample answers and rubrics would also assist them to understand what quality of answer is needed to achieve certain grades.
  7. Some students may experience particular difficulty finding resources at this time. Wherever possible, ensure your resources are available online. Better still, uploading them to your Brightspace module, could reduce anxiety considerably.

Some pointers to help where students need additional supports and services

  • Many of our students avail of disability supports, and these continue to be available, even though they are remote for the University. We are available to you too. As you know, each student has an assigned set of accommodations which you can access on the Infohub class list. Module Coordinators should continue to provide exam accommodations to students for timed tests that are taking place online. 
  • You will find the instructions for providing additional time in Brightspace Exams in this guide
  • Some students require Readers and they can continue to use the Read and Write Gold extension for Chrome. If they are not currently using this and have the Reader accommodation, we recommend that they install the Read and Write Gold extension for Chrome.  This will require them to access their exams on  Brightspace from the Chrome browser and use the 'hover speech' function. If they are having difficulty, we are delighted to help if they contact us at disability@ucd.ie
  • Some students require alternative grading guidelines (i.e. consideration of spelling and grammar), and again they continue to have this accomodation for all timed tests. Access & Lifelong Learning will send students with this support a piece of text to insert at the beginning of the exam script. We are asking all Module Coordinators to confirm that students are entitled to this support by checking the Module Class List on InfoHub.
  • We also continue to support you and provide additional guidance; please contact us disability@ucd.ie

 

Some factors that may need attention when thinking about new learning environments

We are all getting used to new work arrangements and like us, students find themselves having to cope in this new learning environment. 

  1. Our students are so diverse now, in terms of age, disability, low income, caring responsibilities, accomodation, etc. These factors as we know can, and do, impinge on their learning. 
  2. As you set tasks and assessments for students, consider the different environments in which they are now learning - for example: 
    • Some can no longer engage easily in live classes 
    • Some will not have the equipment needed such as laptops, or a stable internet connection
    • Some will be caring for children or other family members
    • Some will live in shared accommodation
  3. We know the efforts that you are making to reshape the learning experience and offer flexibility wherever possible. As you will appreciate, there is no one size fits all solution in our current situation. During these challenging times, your creativity, flexibility and care will prevail and our students will continue to have the best experience possible at this time.

Ideas and suggestions about using technology

  1. The challenges of today are met more than ever, by increased use of technology, but it is important that we are not overwhelmed. Our students are similar, and it is important that we don’t ask them to learn multiple new platforms. Using those that are already integrated into Brightspace or UCD systems, would help here. 
  2. If possible, point students to resources that could help them learn these platforms and point them towards support as necessary. Will Smith from Mechanical Engineering has produced a useful student guide for using Collaborate Virtual Classroom in Brightspace and Access & Lifelong Learning have produced a video guide for students on how to rewatch or download their virtual classes. 
  3. Some students do not have a device to access materials and cannot afford a device: please refer them to their Student Adviser, who can assist in making an application for financial support to enable loan or purchase of a device. 
  4. There are many ways to provide information and using as many ways as possible is worth considering;  for example using email, Brightspace, your website and Social Media.

General

  • How do I get in touch with UCD Access and Lifelong Learning during this time?
    You can contact us via email at all@ucd.ie or disability@ucd.ie. We are continuing to monitor our emails reguarly.
  • I am a UCD staff member. How can I continue to support students at this time?
    We have a number of regularly updated resources and guides on our Information for Staff webpage.

Scholarships and Financial Issues

  • Can I get any financial assistance as I have incurred considerable extra expense as a result of COVID-19?
    If you are facing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 crisis, please email all@ucd.ie. We will connect you with a member of our team, who will advise you of your options.  
  • I have lost my part time job and am now facing financial difficulties. Is there any financial support available?
    There is financial support available through the Student Assistance Fund (SAF) for access students who entered via the HEAR Pathway, students who are parenting, part-time student, and students on PME/Education Courses.

Student Supports

  • I have returned home due to the crisis, but I don’t have internet access and can’t do my coursework. what should I do?
    Please contact your Programme Office for further information on this.
  • I do not have access to a laptop or other appropriate device to retrieve my coursework.
    You may be eligible to apply for our laptop loan scheme.
  • How will I receive notes or ISL translation for online classes?
    We have contacted module coordinators and asked them to ensure that any virtual class recordings can be downloaded. If your module coordinator provides materials in this format (or as a screencast or podcast), please contact disability@ucd.ie to let us know. 

    We will contact service providers to ensure the availability of notetakers and/or interpreters. Once this is in place, please share the recordings with your notetaker or interpreter who will return notes and/or interpretation to you. To find out how to access virtual class recordings and download them, please watch this brief video.

  • How will accommodations like extra time, refer to grading guidelines, reader or scribe be provided for in online exams?

    Extra Time:
    You are entitled to extra time of 10 minutes per hour for any timed online exams. To ensure that you receive this accommodation, please contact your module coordinator directly as you would for a locally arranged exam and they will be able to assign the extra time to you.
    Refer to Grading Guidelines: Students with this support should have received an email with their digital Refer to Grading Guidelines label. If you are registered for this support and have not received such an email, please email disability@ucd.ie as soon as possible. This label can be used for any timed examination.
    Reader: Any student currently using the Read and Write Gold extension, will be able to continue to use this for any online exams. If you do not currently use a text to speech tool and have the Reader accommodation, we recommend that you install the Read and Write Gold extension for Chrome from this link. Please ensure that you access Brightspace from the Chrome browser and use the 'hover speech' function which will read aloud the text wherever you place the mouse pointer. We recommend that you test this out before exam time. If you require any further information, please contact disability@ucd.ie.
    Scribe: As any online exams will be completed electronically, scribes will not be provided in this instance, however, if you are unable to use keyboard input, please contact disability@ucd.ie directly to arrange an alternative option.

  • I normally use a LiveScribe pen in class. How can I record online lectures?
    There is an alternative to the LiveScribe called Audio Notetaker. This is a desktop application that is ideal for recording online lectures. This video will give you a good idea of how it works and whether it would suit you. If you are interested in trying the application, please contact disability@ucd.ie

  • How can I access the textbooks I need remotely? 
    As well as being able to access ebooks through the UCD Library, there are thousands of academic titles available through NCBI's Bookshare EasyReader app. This app is available to anyone with a print impairment and books are provided in a number of digital formats. You can download the app and search for the books you need but in order to download them, you must complete this registration form and email it to lina.kouzi@ncbi.ie

    (Please note that the form does not currently need to be completed by our office).

  • Will I have to go on placement even though I am considered to be high risk for COVID-19?
    Please contact your placement coordinator for advice on your clinical placement.

  • I am a student with a disability or significant ongoing illness and would like exam supports, how can I put these in place? 
    Please email disability@ucd.ie to discuss a needs assessment.

Lifelong Learning Programme

  • Will Lifelong Learning classes continue?
    Yes, the Lifelong Learning Programme will continue online. Further details will be posted on the Lifelong Learning Programme webpage once they are confirmed.