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Distance learning: lectures

Education during period 4

In line with the government’s guidelines, the Executive Board decided last week that no classes or exams will be held on campus until at least1 June 2020. This of course has major ramifications for the continuation of the second semester. To ensure students experience as few delays to their studies as possible, we have requested all FTR lecturers to offer distance learning and exams in period 4 via Brightspace.

In the coming weeks, lecturers will use Brightspace to keep their students informed about how they intend to proceed with distance learning. However, we would ask students to be patient, as migrating from classroom-based education to distance learning will take time. Each lecturer will contact students with information on how to proceed with their course(s) by the latest on Monday 13 April. If students have not received information by Monday 13 April, they can contact the coordinator concerned after this date:

Set out below is what has been agreed with the lecturers. This will provide students with an outline of what to expect and, vice versa, clarify for lecturers what they can expect from their students in the coming period.

Education period (Monday 13 April - Friday 5 June) and exam period (Monday 15 June – Friday 17 July)

Now that we know for definite that no classes will be held on campus from Monday 13 April, all of us face an enormous challenge. Lecturers are looking for ways and means of teaching remotely. Students on the other hand must prepare for being taught from a distance and, perhaps more than would be under normal circumstances, will need to comply with what is demanded of them.

Timetables and Brightspace

The starting point for all of this is that we will try as far as reasonably possible to stick to the original timetable and that communication will for the most part take place via Brightspace. Sticking to the timetable means that during the times the course was/is scheduled, the lecturer will;

  • have students watch a web lecture or self-produced video
  • have students watch a PowerPoint presentation
  • invite students to join a video conference (for example via Zoom or Virtual Classroom)
  • offer students the opportunity to ask questions regarding course content
  • have students give a presentation within a digital environment
  • deliver a lecture via a Virtual Classroom

This will create clarity; students will know exactly what to expect in a particular week. Communicating via Brightspace is imperative, as this allows all students registered for the course to connect. The lecturer will upload on to Brightspace all messages, emails, assignments, literature, audio or video recordings, indeed everything the student needs to follow the course. Only when sound, clear and explicit agreements have been made (via Brightspace) can other digital means (outside Brightspace) be used. It is therefore absolutely vital for students to visit Brightspace regularly and view the courses they are registered for.

Distance learning and feedback

We have asked lecturers to think carefully about how they wish to approach and set out distance learning for their courses. They can request support from Radboud TLC (https://www.ru.nl/docenten/onderwijs/didactiek-en-begeleiden/leren-afstand/tijdelijke-vormen-leren-afstand/. Distance learning can take many forms, the lecturer can:

  • use web lectures from the previous year
  • use short, self-produced instruction videos and/or audio recordings (within Brightspace, or by using OBS or PowerPoint)
  • offer transcripts of lectures and/or other texts
  • teach via a Virtual Classroom (which can also be viewed after the event) or can bring students together in a video conference
  • set students weekly assignments (to write a summary, apply a theory, a written assignment, create a short paper, etc)
  • prescribe certain literature, accompanied by dedicated questions
  • use Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp or Zoom for individual guidance sessions
  • set joint assignments, which they require students to complete and deliver in discussion groups

Detailed feedback is of course a critical element in all of this. Providing feedback from a distance can be challenging and will often require more work.

The lecturer can:

  • provide feedback on assignments performed
  • provide an answer model to individual students, however only where the student has completed the questions
  • organise a virtual classroom or video conference to discuss the assignment
  • give students the opportunity at certain moments to ask questions by email
  • use rubrics that make it clear to students how an assignment must be performed and/or how, after submission, it was/will be assessed