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Teaching goes digital

Teaching goes digitalIn History and its Joint Schools, tutors and librarians across the University have been working extremely hard since the Easter Vacation to put in place the resources and mechanisms which will enable remote tutorials, classes, and lectures as well as Finals to take place in Trinity. First-year examinations have been cancelled to allow for sustained focus on the organisation and marking of Finals. But in all other respects, it is hoped that undergraduate teaching will be delivered as fully as possible, and that graduates will continue to be able to work on research projects that can still be completed on time. Full timetables of tutorials, classes, lectures and supervisions are envisaged across the summer period.

Because Trinity Term has not yet started, we cannot yet know how effective the preparations and the mechanisms for remote teaching will be, particularly since all mechanisms require people to make them work. We realise that the students themselves will be under immense pressures, given the novelty of the teaching and examination modes; most academics will be working from home, often having to mark students’ work, and plan and deliver their teaching at the same time as caring for others, above all school-age children. Much, one suspects, is going to be done at night, not least to accommodate students who will be living in different time-zones. Similar pressures will apply to the administrative staff who support teaching and research. And of course anyone may find themselves dealing with the virus itself!

Whether all good intentions can be realised in full is as yet unknown. But, having recently “met” all three year-groups of Univ undergraduate historians in mid-vacation meetings over “Teams” (a completely unprecedented occurrence in my years in Oxford), my sense is that there is a palpable determination to give things a go on the part of academics and students alike.

Dr Catherine Holmes, A D M Cox Old Members’ Tutorial Fellow in Medieval History

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