Apr 24, 2020

College is Considering Holding Large Lectures Online Until January

Trinity is considering a number of options for how to conduct teaching next year, with first years likely to start College in early November.

Donal MacNameeEditor
Sergey Alifanov for The University Times

Trinity is considering moving large lectures online for the first semester of next year, The University Times has learned, with the return of some face-to-face teaching potentially pushed back until as late as January 2021.

College is currently examining a range of options for next year amid widespread uncertainty about the immediate future of in-person interaction as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

At a meeting of College Board on Wednesday, Vice-Provost Jurgen Barkhoff outlined a number of plans Trinity is weighing up – including the possibility of conducting teaching for large classes online, three members of Board told The University Times.


The members of Board, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to reveal the contents of sensitive discussions, said conversations also took place around when first-year students will begin College, with early November pinpointed as their likely start date.

But this is dependent on the way the leaving certificate goes, the three members said. Trinity has yet to bring forward concrete proposals on how next year’s teaching will take place.

Trinity declined to comment on questions from The University Times about its plans for teaching next year.

All teaching in Trinity has been taking place online since March, when the government instructed colleges to close their doors.

College had previously moved lectures online for the rest of the semester, while tutorials, seminars and labs were still taking place in person.

Less than 24 hours before the decision to cancel physical lectures, 40 members of Trinity’s academic staff signed a letter to Provost Patrick Prendergast urging him to close the College “for all bar essential lab-based teaching” – an episode first revealed by The University Times.

This year’s summer exams – which start next Monday – are also taking place remotely, mostly in offline, take-home form. Some exams are being conducted online in real-time, with other modules assessed by assignments due between May 11th and May 15th.

Last month, students around the country launched campaigns calling on colleges to implement “no detriment” policies – meaning students with a passing grade would finish the year with a mark the same or higher than what they started their exams on.

Trinity opted against implementing the policy – which it called “unworkable” – proposing instead a raft of alternative measures it said would “recognise and substantially mitigate the difficulties faced by students” during the exam period.

The decision, revealed ahead of time by The University Times, means students will be able to resit modules even if they’ve passed them, or to retrospectively defer assessments if they feel their performance has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

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