All students will have some face-to-face learning in the coming semester, the Senior Lecturer has confirmed ahead of the announcement of timetables tomorrow.
Senior Lecturer Kevin Mitchell and Áine Kelly, the chair of the resumption of teaching working group, spoke to The University Times ahead of the release of timetables.
Mitchell told this newspaper that in the plans he had seen, “every year of every course includes some face-to-face teaching”.
When formulating the timetables, Mitchell said, College had worked to “balance the desire to have face-to-face teaching with the need to abide by the safety restrictions and look across the different activities to see which ones can be done well online and which ones can only be done face to face and which ones you would rather do face to face”.
“The scope of the problem is huge”, he added. “For example if we have a class that normally has say 100 people in it for lectures and groups of 10 for tutorial sub groups, well for each of those groups of ten now we have to find rooms that normally accommodate 100 or 120”.
The College has tried to give every student “a shot at face-to-face teaching”, Kelly said.
The College’s plan, Kelly said, was to look at “the students that are enrolled in different modules across schools, look at the different teaching rooms that are available, and effectively give schools almost pro rata an allocation of the teaching rooms”.
“From there the schools – because they know the courses, they know the types of activities they’re involved in – the schools would then basically be able to use those rooms exclusively, not like in the case normally where you have different cohorts of students in different rooms at different times”.
The pair also told this newspaper that high-risk staff and students would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and will be managed by their Head of School. The head may, for example, move teaching online or delegate teaching to other lecturers.
Staff and students will, however, have to complete their in-person work, unless they meet the guidelines to allow them to move online.
“Certainly for staff, [Trinity] is an employer and people who are employed here to do a certain job are expected to show up to work unless they have a reason not to”, Mitchell said.
“As far as students go”, he added. “The College’s position is effectively the normal one. We are providing face to face teaching – it’s part of your course and you’re expected to attend and that’s how it would be in a normal year”.
The number of students applying for online learning has so far remained low. According to Mitchell, the numbers remain in the “dozens”.
Unlike in some other universities, Trinity did not prioritise first years for on-campus teaching time. Mitchell said that “fourth years in some cases have been prioritised because of the fact that they are doing their capstone projects”, adding that the number varied a lot across courses.
When asked why Trinity’s timetables are being released a week later than University College Dublin’s, Kelly said that the timetables had taken a long time to figure out because the College wanted “to make sure that we protected all of the initiatives that have been brought in through the Trinity Education Project in terms of the flexibility for students in choosing different pathways and open modules”.
“We needed to make sure that the timetables still worked for the shared elements and the students still had all of those opportunities for new minor subjects or open modules or Trinity electives and all of that”, she added.