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Online Teaching & Examinations

Online Teaching

Teaching will be delivered via Blackboard for the rest of the semester. By now, the majority of modules have a Blackboard page with relevant course material for the coming weeks uploaded. Lecture notes, Powerpoint presentations and videos have been uploaded and further material may be delivered by recorded video or live lecture via Blackboard Collaborate on the relevant Blackboard pages. Log on to the relevant Blackboard page for each of your modules to access course material.

This may be in the form of:

  • a live lecture
  • a recorded lecture
  • your lecturer may be available via Blackboard to assist you with any queries on the lecture materials 

What is the general approach to exams?

Examinations in halls will not run this May. All academic units are preparing for the delivery of assessments by alternative means. Where, for the purposes of professional accreditation, particular modes of examination which would require an examination bringing students together in a hall or in a similar setting are necessary, please bring this to the attention of your Head of School as soon as possible so that we can plan accordingly as best we can.

Please be mindful that there is a wide range of assessment types available. These are listed in the Marks and Standards document.

Additional material that may help in the formulation of alternative assessment can be found on the CELT Sharepoint site. Colleagues should be particularly mindful of students requiring special supports and consider their particular needs in the design of assessment by alternative means. In particular, please alert your Head of School of instances where you believe such special supports will be required.

Modules will be initiating alternative modes of assessment for end-of-semester exams. This task has required a lot of creative thinking and detailed planning to ensure the majority of modules will be examined in the coming exam session. Examinations will be conducted remotely using a range of exam modes including online exams run through Blackboard, Multiple-Choice Questions, take-home open-book exams, continuous assessment, projects, presentations delivered remotely via video, and more. For a limited number of programmes, the grade of some First and Second Year modules will not include an ‘end-of-semester’ examination. Details of module assessments will be available on most module pages on Blackboard by the end of this week.

How will online assessments impact the exam schedule?

Please be aware that some online assessments will need to be extended beyond the traditional examination period to facilitate staggered online assessment and to allow sufficient time for essays, projects and open-book exams to be completed.

The Examinations Office will issue a new exam timetable later this week. Most exams will remain 2 hours in duration with 30 mins added for upload.

For students of Shannon College, a separate email will be forthcoming from the Head of Shannon College regarding any differences in exam arrangements that may apply.

How will we protect the integrity of the examination process?

Please be assured that our primary concern is to maintain the integrity and rigour of the examinations process, and the alternative assessments provided for each module will reflect appropriately the same level of effort required for traditional exams based in exam halls. The quality of NUI Galway degrees is paramount and will not be affected by an alternative mode of assessment.

Exam security will be protected by asking all students to complete a disclaimer statement at the start of each exam and each Module Leader reserves the right to follow up with a student by interview if there is any concern in relation to the integrity of the exam.

What is the Module Leaders’ role in the alternative assessment process?

Unlike standard examinations, for all remote assessments the Module Leader’s role is to manage and effectively monitor the assessment.

  • For online assessments in particular, the relevant Module Leader is responsible for configuring, running and managing the online tools and assessment process.

For timed online exams:

  • These are not examinations in the traditional sense and so, in place of invigilation in an exam venue, the assessment process can only be monitored and managed by the 'instructor' on the corresponding Blackboard module, ie the Module Leader. 
  • This means that you will required to be online before, during, and after any timed online assessment.
  • You will also need to provide students with your contact information (email address) in case any difficulties arise for individual students during the exam.

Generally:

  • We recommended that College or School Offices communicate to students  as soon as possible a central Office telephone number and email address for students who have no access to broadband or laptop/PC devices. Colleges can expect to receive queries from students with potential problems accessing the required technology.
  • For students reporting no suitable PC or laptop device on which to complete their exams, Colleges should try to establish the scale of this problem for your students. If the scale is relatively small, the possibility of making limited University computer facilities available could be explored. In the unlikely event that the scale is significant, and there is no way for the student to complete the exam without the use of technology, then as a last resort, such students will need to consider deferring to the Autumn Examinations. There is no penalty for deferring an exam.
  • For students reporting issues with connectivity and reliable broadband access, all Module Leaders have identified a Plan B assessment – we recommended making the Plan B assessment available to such students.
  • Some students have caring responsibilities at home and doing timed online assessments in the home environment may be challenging. Where these concerns are raised, you may need to give consideration to defaulting to the Plan B assessment type for such students.

What advice and support is in place for Module Leaders who encounter technology issues while running online or alternative assessments?

If you are running a timed online exam, it is strongly recommended that you run a test with your class group well in advance, to get a sense of  potential technology issues that may arise during the exam.

  • To minimise risk in online assessments it is essential that all the settings required on Blackboard, Turntin, or whichever tools are being used, are checked and verified.
  • It is also highly recommended, particularly for MCQ-type assessments (but also others), that a test run is initiated with the students on the module to verify that they can fully access and complete the test.  This will identify students who have technical issues in advance of the scheduled examination and allow alternative arrangements to be put in place, either for that group of students or the whole class/cohort.
  • Finally, there must be a 'Plan B' in place for each examination in case of technical difficulties with a live assessment. The most common form would be a test provided and returned by email (where there is at least sufficient broadband connection for this).
  • Module Leaders need to be aware of and, to the best of their ability, act upon any relevant LENS accommodations pertaining to the mode of assessment.

CELT will continue to update their SharePoint site with Guidelines for the primary assessment types for all modules that have been identified from the documentation provided by the Heads of Schools.

Staff Supports, Training and Documentation from the CELT team

CELT has provided a number of recommendations and guidelines on the various approaches to online examinations and assessments on a dedicated SharePoint site:https://nuigalwayie.sharepoint.com/sites/CELT2/SitePages/Online-Examinations-%26-Alternative-Assessments.aspx

This will also be the main location for updates, news, and bookings for training sessions.

AKARI Curriculum Manager updates

For Programme and Module Leaders: Please note that the deadlines for updating AKARI Curriculum Manager have been extended as follows:

  • New Programmes/Modules: 17 April
  • All other updates: 28 April

Deferrals

The policy relating to deferral of exams will be reviewed in the context of the current situation with a view to offering flexibility to students where necessary in the interests of public health and the welfare of our students and staff.