Teaching & Learning in UCD during the Coronavirus Crisis
Staff and students across the University, along with colleagues in schools and colleges around the country, have been adapting to truly significant changes in how programmes and student services are delivered since closures came into effect on 12 March. At that time, UCD was coming to the end of the first week of its two-week Spring break so there was a chance for staff to adapt to remote working and teaching before classes recommenced at-distance on Monday 23 March to finish out the remaining five weeks of the teaching term.
Since then, teaching has been delivered in a variety of ways - Module Coordinators have kept in touch with students and updates are posted regularly on Brightspace, our Virtual Learning Environment. In many cases, materials have been made available to students to access and work through on their own schedule. Lecturers and tutors have continued to interact with students in line with their timetable, but through electronic means. Some lectures have been podcasted, some have been live streamed - in all cases, students have been given opportunities to interact with each other and their lecturers remotely where possible.
In terms of assessment, the examination period was extended by one week (5 May to 23 May) to ensure that students had the best spread of assessments as possible, giving more time to prepare and complete assessments. All assessment is being carried out remotely. Where appropriate, alternative assessments, designed to enable as much flexibility as possible for students to demonstrate that they have achieved the required learning outcomes, without compromising the integrity of the assessment process, have been put in place. Resources have been made available to students which include advice on managing assessments remotely, particular considerations for timed online assessments and steps to take if they encounter a difficulty in advance of their assessment or if an issue arises during the assessment. It is the University’s hope that all of these measures will go some way to taking some of the additional stress out of the much changed exam process for students.
This has been an incredibly difficult time for many of our students, and the University has continued to highlight the supports that are available to them in these challenging and stressful circumstances. The UCD Student Advisers have continued to be an invaluable resource for our students, supporting them as required remotely. School Office staff and colleagues in the UCD Library and UCD Registry have also been doing trojan work to assist students through the current crisis. Inevitably, the unexpected move to remote teaching and assessment has brought with it a range of technical issues for students; module coordinators and IT Services have been working with students to resolve these issues.
Staff across our School have also been adapting to working remotely, and like so many others, are using tools such as Zoom and WhatsApp groups to keep in touch. The School has a staff Google Community which is also being used for updates and to share a range of information and resources. The School Management Team has been meeting remotely on a regular basis. Felicity Fitzpatrick, the UCD VetSoc Auditor, joins these meetings once a week and has been an invaluable link between the School and our students.
Once the assessment period is over, the next academic year will be a big focus for our staff, particularly with clinical rotations for the Class of 2021 due to start during the Summer. For the Class of 2020, unfortunately they will graduate ‘in absentia,’ instead of attending their conferring ceremony which was planned for 15 June. Conferring day is one of the most popular days in the School calendar and we are working to organise a virtual ceremony on 15 June followed by an event on campus at a later stage - we look forward to sharing this special occasion with our students and their families and friends then.
Please click on the link below for a video message to alumni from the President of UCD, Professor Andrew Deeks:
UCD COVID-19 Response
The Office of the Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact has launched a new website collating all COVID-19-related research, innovation and supporting activities from across the University, including work being carried out by colleagues in the School of Veterinary Medicine. The website also provides a broad range of COVID-19-related resources, which will be continually updated over the coming weeks and months.