HoD News - 5 May 2020

2020.05.05 | Niels Haldrup

Dear colleagues,

We are all eagerly waiting for the next move of the Government to be announced later this week regarding a possible reopening of the country, which hopefully will include the universities in one form or other. Presently, we are much focussed on the immediate challenges and tasks especially in connection with finishing this semester’s online teaching and the preparations for online exams. Right now, we do not know the conditions and frames for the start-up of the fall semester, including the arrangements welcoming new students. In this respect, the university is awaiting the options following a possible reopening. A likely scenario is that teaching in smaller groups and classes (including exercises) can be onsite, whereas larger classes must be taught online. Let’s see what the decisions will bring.

We hope for a good settlement of the upcoming exams, and it is also my hope that the online teaching during the semester and the form of exams will not have a negative impact on students’ performance. The learning objectives of each course remain unaffected by the present situation. I know that the study councils and lecturers have a concern about the risk of exam cheating, especially in connection with take-home exams. We should take advantage of all possible measures approved by the University to avoid exam cheating. Though, I believe that the vast majority of students are responsible and honest individuals. Our focus on the risk of exam cheating should not affect the exam in a way that harms the overall assessments of an entire cohort of students; it is the exam answers in relation to the learning objectives that are assessed. Common updated exam rules and guidelines for students to avoid the risk of exam cheating are presently being formulated at the university level. These rules and guidelines will  be included on the relevant websites when available.

Last week information regarding the running of oral exams using Zoom was disseminated by email and via the ECON corona website. Updates regarding technical issues in relation to exams in Zoom are presently being prepared and will be announced very soon.

AU Summer University 2020 will run as planned, although a number of courses will have online format, especially when the lecturers are international. With respect to our own lecturers who teach Summer University courses and other courses to be held in August, we are awaiting the development to see whether onsite teaching can take place on campus or whether these courses have to take an online format as well.

It is important that our experience with online teaching and exams is evaluated from the perspective of both students and lecturers. Particular assessment of online teaching has already been integrated in the usual teaching evaluations to get an idea about what works and makes sense in terms of learning and to receive appropriate student feedback of different online teaching formats. Aarhus BSS will follow up to gather the experience from the lecturers and TAs.

There is no doubt that online teaching will become an integrated element of the university teaching of tomorrow. We need to find an optimal format for integrating online teaching with more traditional teaching. Let us approach this experience in a positive spirit to gain flexibility and improved measures of learning. Ultimately, in addition to flexibility, a proper design may potentially free up lecture room and auditorium capacity and thus provide better teaching schedules for both lecturers and students.

Thank you, everybody. I have had online meetings with several of you recently. Despite the challenges that you face, I also see from your side a positive spirit, a commitment, and openness in solving the tasks and learning new ways of working.

I look forward to seeing you all in person in a not too distant future.

Best regards,

Niels Haldrup

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