It’s been 15 weeks since lockdown began and during that time, we have all had to find and manage new ways of working. Online learning, teaching and assessment have become more important than ever and, here in the TEL Unit, we have been busily working away to support all colleagues and students across the University with their transition in to the world of online learning, and to help make that transition as smooth as possible.
What have we been up to?
We’ve been a little quiet on the social media front recently, and with good reason! The last four months have been the busiest our small TEL family has ever experienced and we’ve worked hard on a range of activities to support the University:
- Just before lockdown we anticipated the move to online and put on 9 ‘emergency’ Collaborate workshops with 106 staff attending.
- We’ve also carried on providing training and support for Collaborate as more and more colleagues started teaching online.
- The recent all staff meeting was also carried out using Collaborate with our biggest ever audience of over 500 at one point.
- We also put together some timely advice about working and teaching remotely on our webpages and we’re continuing to keep these updated https://uwtel.co.uk/remote-working/
Day to day support
- Online drop in sessions were held twice a week, every week for 10 weeks giving staff the opportunity to drop in and get help from our Academic Learning Technologists along a range of topics, including using the virtual classroom, creating videos, populating materials online, Camtasia and accessing support materials.
- Our calls for support through our dedicated TEL@worc.ac.uk email and through the IT Services desk were busier than ever.
- Prior to lockdown, we were commissioned by Dementia UK to work in partnership with them to produce an online course aimed at people interested in becoming Admiral Nurses. We worked on this project alongside supporting our own staff and students during lockdown and are very proud of the results. Paul Edwards, Director of Clinical Services at Dementia UK outlines the rationale for the module on their web site https://www.dementiauk.org/our-new-admiral-nurse-module/ and you can access the resource itself which is openly available here https://www.dementiauk.org/elearning/#/
- We’ve assisted comms with moving open days online, utilising tools such as Camtasia and Collaborate and provided specific staff training for this.
- We also ran some specific drop-in sessions to help staff prepare their video presentations for the virtual open day.
- A new project to open up Blackboard to allow prospective students to self-register and attend virtual events and taster sessions is now underway and should be ready for pre-sessional teaching on request
- With new accessibility guidelines coming into force in September 2020, it’s more important than ever to ensure that our online content is fully accessible for all our students.
- In preparation for this we have implemented an extension to Blackboard which allows students to download content from the VLE in alternative accessible formats depending on their needs.
- Ally also allows tutors to see at a glance how accessible their content is using a colour coding format and providing directions on how to improve accessibility. It’s also possible to produce a course report to track all the content in your course. (this is only visible to tutors)
- With assessment weeks falling in the middle of the lockdown it was necessary to move all the exams and resits online at very short notice.
- This involved urgent liaison with colleagues across the University including Senior Management, Academics and Registry Services to ensure a consistent and useable system was in place.
- In May 78 online examinations took place with the vast majority running smoothly, with a further 172 resits and deferrals taking place in July.
- We have also developed a bespoke learning package to help staff in the use of Turnitin. This is available through the staff development Learn upon portal and can be accessed at any time.
Of course, our support doesn’t stop there. If staff have any queries about implementing their classes online next semester, or general questions about any of the tools we support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, check out our webpages at www.uwtel.co.uk for guidance on what tools we have to offer and how to use them.