May 6, 2020

Trinity Explores Online Teaching ‘Opportunities’ Amid Pandemic

A College working group – set up by Trinity's top officers – will look into online teaching among a number of ‘opportunities’ triggered by the virus.

Emer MoreauNews Editor
Sinéad Baker for The University Times

Trinity’s top officers have set up a new working group that will look into the “opportunities” for College of the coronavirus, including the possibility of moving some teaching online.

The Trinity Futures Group was established by College’s Executive Officers – including the provost, vice-provost and bursar – and “will consider the opportunities that are triggered by Covid and have longer-term value for Trinity”, according to Bursar Veronica Campbell.

The move comes as universities reckon with huge revenue losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.


In an email statement to The University Times, Campbell said the group will examine “flexible modes of working, online teaching & learning, new markets and opportunities pertaining to our existing strategic projects”.

The group will prepare a discussion paper that will be considered by the Executive Officers, Campbell said.

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.

Last month, The University Times reported that College is considering moving large lectures online for the first semester of next year, with the return of some face-to-face teaching potentially being pushed back until as late as January 2021.

At a meeting of College Board last month, 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 when contacted by The University Times with questions about its plans for teaching next year.

In addition to online classes, this year’s summer exams – which started last Monday – are also taking place remotely. 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 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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