Impact on Universities

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bolo
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by bolo » Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:49 pm

An anecdote, N=1 and all that:

A colleague's daughter started this year at a university somewhere in New York. In two of her classes, the instructors have interpreted "online teaching" as "no teaching". Literally none. Here are some things to read. Here are some questions to answer. I'll let you know whether you got them right.

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by FlammableFlower » Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:53 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:37 pm
FlammableFlower wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:00 pm
Except, there are two things: one, we're having to put in more effort - the online material they are getting isn't (at least here) last year's recordings played back to them. Everything has been completely restructured for the COVID-world. We've been told that due to the increase in work that our workload model* has been completely overhauled so allocations for research time are being slashed to practically nothing and the increase in teaching will backfill that - it's basically saying we know you're doing more, but tough.
But is that visible to students?
Secondly, at some point this will likely pass, or at least be more normalised (yearly, widespread vaccination to actually get a measure of herd immunity) - talking to students they do much prefer the F2F, but if we throw it all out now, it won't come back. I'd guess that students would rather pay the fees than have a uni fold and be told that their money is wasted if other institutions can't take them on...
Maybe, I'll take your word for it, but I wonder if expectations will evolve and vfm considerations will change that. (Mind you, I'm a mathematician, so most of my courses could have been -- and in at least two cases were -- replaced with a day or two working through a textbook on my own. More practical and more discussion-based subjects are obviously different.)
It's not a good situation, but the alternatives for all involved are worse.
Very much the motto of this pandemic.

Apologies if I come across as a dick - I'm completely out of touch with the university system, so I really don't know. I'm just wondering what might happen over the next couple of years, and what VCs are worrying about most.
No worries. I have to say you comment:
But is that visible to students?
Is pretty much on the money in every respect in a normal year, let alone this bizarre one - and it fed into a lot of the discussions with plodder/Backstep. I suppose it's not that different to a lot of things where you might see the end product, or just one part (i.e. a restaurant), but you have little idea of what's going on before/out of sight to produce what you're getting. I'm pretty sure I was the same as a student - that all students assume that "giving the lecture" is all you do and you don't actually exist/just sit around in your office doing bugger all when they can't see you. For example the drug discovery simulation coursework I run with two sets a week across eight weeks - they only have an hour a week contact time with me, but it takes me 3 hours prep for each hour contact time. Are they aware of that? No, they just see me every week presenting them with new data. Should we make them more aware? Possibly, but it starts to sound rather needy...

I do worry that COVID will irrevocably break some things. Successive governments have made the university experience increasingly transactional/consumerist and that's not a good place to be at the moment.

I have to say I have changed my mind a bit regarding F2F... I had my first major in-person teaching today with the first years. It was so nice to be able to speak to them much more naturally than it is online. You can read the room, make comments and respond to their reaction (or lack of) so much more easily. They were more engaged - an awful lot of them hide online. Not all by any means, but a good chunk will turn off cameras and mics. I ran an online workshop and put them in breakout rooms to discuss questions. Some rooms were very chatty, some were all off-camera, off-mic. When I went around to see how they were getting on before bringing them back to go over the answers all together, you'd find them essentially working alone in silence. Engaging them is very, very different.

Still, for safety's sake, I can see why we have to keep this to a minimum.

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by FlammableFlower » Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:55 pm

bolo wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:49 pm
An anecdote, N=1 and all that:

A colleague's daughter started this year at a university somewhere in New York. In two of her classes, the instructors have interpreted "online teaching" as "no teaching". Literally none. Here are some things to read. Here are some questions to answer. I'll let you know whether you got them right.
Wow. I know lots of people complain about students nowadays not "reading" for their degree and expecting to be told what to learn, but that's something else. I could quite understand students wondering about value for money there!

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by FlammableFlower » Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:23 am


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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by shpalman » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:11 pm

... and it was only a matter of time: one of the master's students, who was in the lab on Monday, turns out to have tested positive. (I was only in the lab very briefly on Monday morning and I certainly haven't been working with that student.)

I'm also hearing about outbreaks in various departments.

Fully expecting a mail to go around from the rector saying that all lessons will be online starting next week. If not, I'll probably tell my three students of my master's course that I'm going to do it online anyway because f.ck this stupid 90-minutes-each-way on public transport when two out of three of them are watching online anyway.
molto tricky

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by shpalman » Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:39 am

opening of universities was illegal
On 21 September, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) advised the government to introduce immediate measures that would require universities and colleges to move all their teaching online “unless face-to-face teaching is absolutely essential”. Minutes of the meeting, which were disclosed publicly on 12 October, show that the committee warned that “outbreaks are very likely in universities”, and emphasised that the risk of Covid-19 death and severe disease was higher for university and college workers than for students.
A week after receiving this advice, Williamson reassured MPs about the “safety” of students to return to university campuses, and praised university staff and students for putting themselves in “a safe place” where they would be “out of harm’s way”. He also claimed that the government was providing “robust public health advice and regular updates to the sector”, even though he had not communicated Sage’s advice to UCU, which represents more than 120,000 university and college staff.
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by shpalman » Mon Oct 26, 2020 9:53 am

shpalman wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:11 pm
... and it was only a matter of time: one of the master's students, who was in the lab on Monday, turns out to have tested positive. (I was only in the lab very briefly on Monday morning and I certainly haven't been working with that student.)
The good news is that the two people in the lab who worked most closely with him have tested negative.
shpalman wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:11 pm
Fully expecting a mail to go around from the rector saying that all lessons will be online starting next week. If not, I'll probably tell my three students of my master's course that I'm going to do it online anyway because f.ck this stupid 90-minutes-each-way on public transport when two out of three of them are watching online anyway.
The bad news is that no such mail has arrived so I'll probably go and do my last lecture in person in front of one student.
molto tricky

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by science_fox » Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:33 am

We've just had an email that's suggesting we all work towards a return to blended (f2f) teaching now that current wave has passed through our students. :shock: :cry:

Won't effect me, but I know my colleagues aren't happy.

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by jimbob » Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:54 am

science_fox wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:33 am
We've just had an email that's suggesting we all work towards a return to blended (f2f) teaching now that current wave has passed through our students. :shock: :cry:

Won't effect me, but I know my colleagues aren't happy.
Is it worth asking to see the risk assessment for that?
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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bob sterman
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by bob sterman » Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:11 pm

jimbob wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:54 am
science_fox wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:33 am
We've just had an email that's suggesting we all work towards a return to blended (f2f) teaching now that current wave has passed through our students. :shock: :cry:

Won't effect me, but I know my colleagues aren't happy.
Is it worth asking to see the risk assessment for that?
Yes - presumably it'll be based on the regular PCR antigen testing, and serology results showing that they've all been previously infected.

:D

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by shpalman » Wed Nov 04, 2020 5:47 pm

shpalman wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 9:53 am
shpalman wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:11 pm
... and it was only a matter of time: one of the master's students, who was in the lab on Monday, turns out to have tested positive. (I was only in the lab very briefly on Monday morning and I certainly haven't been working with that student.)
The good news is that the two people in the lab who worked most closely with him have tested negative.
shpalman wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:11 pm
Fully expecting a mail to go around from the rector saying that all lessons will be online starting next week. If not, I'll probably tell my three students of my master's course that I'm going to do it online anyway because f.ck this stupid 90-minutes-each-way on public transport when two out of three of them are watching online anyway.
The bad news is that no such mail has arrived so I'll probably go and do my last lecture in person in front of one student.
That mail arrived today, though, since Lombardy expected to be at a red lockdown level as of tomorrow. Yes, they changed the bulb.

One of my colleagues, who was in the lab this morning, got the news that the swab she'd done* had resulted positive, so she went home. I don't count as having been in close contact recently but four coworkers now have to stay at home for two weeks.

* - not because she had any symptoms or anything.

I'm assuming, since it's still ok to travel for work purposes, that my masters' student can keep coming to do experimental work.
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by Turdly » Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:48 pm

Despite the new lockdown, all we (as an institution) are changing is making cafes takeaway only as far as I can tell. F2F teaching continues unabated.
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by snoozeofreason » Thu Nov 05, 2020 7:54 pm

Turdly wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:48 pm
Despite the new lockdown, all we (as an institution) are changing is making cafes takeaway only as far as I can tell. F2F teaching continues unabated.
Same here. The silver lining is that If I have to go into work, I reckon I can call myself a key worker. I will be expecting everyone on my street to come out and clap for me every Thursday evening. And a few painted rainbows with "Thank you for pointlessly exposing yourself and others to unnecessary risk," written underneath wouldn't go amiss.
In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. The human body was knocked up pretty late on the Friday afternoon, with a deadline looming. How well do you expect it to work?

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bob sterman
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by bob sterman » Fri Nov 06, 2020 5:35 pm

So under this new lockdown - people are only supposed to be able to meet one other person (not from their household) in an outdoor space.

I understand there is an exemption for "gatherings for educational or work purposes when reasonably necessary" but not for students to socialise with each other.

Are any instutitions taking steps to prevent students meeting in groups for social reasons either indoors or outdoors?


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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by Turdly » Wed Nov 11, 2020 12:44 pm

Yep, fun and games again trying to work out how to run labs.

Apparently, this was communicated to universities late last night but under an embargo that extended beyond the time that the press had published it so, as usual, the staff on the ground found out about this via the national press.
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by sTeamTraen » Wed Nov 11, 2020 1:12 pm

bob sterman wrote:
Fri Nov 06, 2020 5:35 pm
Are any instutitions taking steps to prevent students meeting in groups for social reasons either indoors or outdoors?
Is it up to the institutions? Students are adults, and AFAIK universities (with the possible exception of a few archaic considerations at Oxford and Cambridge colleges) have no policing powers. It's not up to local councils or landlords to take steps to prevent people having parties in public or private rented accommodation either.

My distant recollection of student life is that the students are a lot more agile than the university authorities. If they want to have a party, they're going to have a party, and the uni either has to admit failure (which Nobody. Ever. Does.) or escalate, which means more G4S or Securitas patrols in the halls --- not a great look.
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by Turdly » Wed Nov 11, 2020 1:47 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 1:12 pm
bob sterman wrote:
Fri Nov 06, 2020 5:35 pm
Are any instutitions taking steps to prevent students meeting in groups for social reasons either indoors or outdoors?
Is it up to the institutions? Students are adults, and AFAIK universities (with the possible exception of a few archaic considerations at Oxford and Cambridge colleges) have no policing powers. It's not up to local councils or landlords to take steps to prevent people having parties in public or private rented accommodation either.

My distant recollection of student life is that the students are a lot more agile than the university authorities. If they want to have a party, they're going to have a party, and the uni either has to admit failure (which Nobody. Ever. Does.) or escalate, which means more G4S or Securitas patrols in the halls --- not a great look.
Pretty much this. Student Unions are, as far as I can tell, being pretty strict on what activities their affiliated societies can run. University/union-owned bars etc. are obeying national guidance. Beyond that, the only powers universities have are their own code of conduct and disciplinary procedures which don't hold much clout, or at least at not perceived to. That may change if, for example, these students end up expelled from their respective institutions.

ETA: Various institutions are fining students for breaching COVID regulations
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by Ren » Thu Nov 12, 2020 12:19 am

Turdly wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 1:47 pm
institutions are fining students for breaching COVID regulations
A lot brought in specific Covid-19 pledges this year. Misconduct policies have more clout than they used to, as institutions have had to deal with escalating issues (e.g. sexual violence, whatsapp racism) and escalating societal (and governmental) expectations around dealing with those issues. Using them is still a minefield (it's very easy to f.ck it up); most universities I know have taken varying levels of disciplinary action against students for Covid-related breaches (some in social settings).

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by FlammableFlower » Sat Nov 14, 2020 4:43 pm

Turdly wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 12:44 pm
Yep, fun and games again trying to work out how to run labs.

Apparently, this was communicated to universities late last night but under an embargo that extended beyond the time that the press had published it so, as usual, the staff on the ground found out about this via the national press.
Yep, that threw us into some frenzied reorganisation. I heard it on the breakfast news.


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