COVID 19 – Learning and Teaching Update

Student using a laptop

Professor Gavin Brown, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, provides an update regarding learning and teaching arrangements: 

We want to give staff and students as much certainty as we can with regard to the mode of our teaching provision moving forward and VIPRE has made a number of decisions which I hope will make it easier for you to plan the next few weeks and also help colleagues with their workload over the rest of the academic year.

Online learning

We have decided that we will remain online until the Easter break (19 March) for subjects which can be taught in this way whilst still meeting programme learning outcomes – principally non-clinical and those subjects not requiring specialist facilities (labs, studios etc). Clinical subjects (and any students requiring essential face-to-face teaching on subjects covered by Government guidance as permitted exemptions) will continue to be taught on campus and teaching that requires access to specialist facilities may need to recommence as soon as government guidance permits.


Last year we introduced flexibility with respect to moderation and the involvement of PGRs in marking. We will introduce the same flexibility again for the remainder of this academic year. Subjects will be able to:

* request an alternative arrangement to the moderation arrangements outlined in section four of the Code of Practice on Assessment and that, specifically, 10% would represent an appropriate sample for moderation. Where there are fewer than 50 assessments in the module an appropriate sample of at least five assessments will be moderated.

* seek relaxation to the regulation in COPA 4.3 that Postgraduate students or postgraduate/postdoctoral research staff cannot act as moderators, but the module convenor must maintain oversight of the quality and standards of marking conducted by PG/PD moderators.

With regard to feedback on student work, providing that all students still get developmental and constructive feedback on all coursework then I would wish to reemphasise that the format of this is up to the member of staff giving the feedback, e.g. the balance of individual vs whole-class feedback. We will remind students that the provision of feedback is different for coursework and exams, and that feedback for the latter must be requested. Also, we will make it clear to staff that although there is the expectation that marked work is returned to students within three weeks of submission, given the circumstances they can take an extra five working days for marking providing that the affected students are informed before the published return date.

Semester One Boards

We have had discussions with several Schools about semester one boards and considered this issue carefully. We would hope that staff workload related to marking will be helped by the measures I describe under Marking above. Secondly, we must still expect that students will receive the majority of their marks on the published marks release deadline, that decisions will be taken in good time with respect to individual claims for extenuating circumstances, and that students with weak marks receive appropriate consideration and decisions with respect to their progression. However, we would wish to be as flexible as possible and the timing and format of this process can be decided locally, and departments should seek to identify workload efficiencies wherever possible.

Production of Asynchronous Content

Pedagogically we have made it clear in our advice and resources that support teaching that we believe asynchronous delivery is best done in short, bite-sized packets of learning. These don’t need to be highly polished production quality, but it is the content that matters. We have advised colleagues to avoid recording long, unbroken lectures as these are not conducive to deep learning. However, the flexibility is there for staff to produce content as they see fit. We will re-signpost guidance about creating asynchronous content to staff but add further examples including recording during a synchronous session and how best to package such content and incorporate opportunities for ‘light touch’ interaction with the class (e.g. questions asked during the session could be answered as a short podcast/Q&A after the session).

Module Feedback

We will give Departments/Schools the flexibility to acquire student feedback however they see fit, with the proviso that it must be done for all modules. For the remainder of this academic year we would not require the use of Evasys, although for those that want to use it we will enable questionnaires to be delivered without the mandatory (core) questions.

Finally, some departments have already deployed more PGR students to support teaching and we would ask you to keep resource needs under review.