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Teaching and assessment task groups to support staff with Covid-19 mitigation

18 March 2020

Two task groups are developing policy and guidance to support staff with moving to online teaching and alternative assessment during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak

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For the safety of staff and students, on Friday 13 March, Academic Committee suspended all face-to-face teaching for the rest of the academic year and announced that all in-person assessments should be replaced by alternative modes of assessment.  

The Covid-19 outbreak is requiring us to work at speed to find a way to keep our community safe while continuing to deliver education. Colleagues are already developing strategies and practices and UCL is putting support in place as fast as possible.  

Two task groups – made up of academic, student and professional services representatives – have been formed to focus on providing clarity and support for staff as we move to remote teaching and assessment, while maintaining the academic standards expected of a UCL education.  

Both groups, chaired by Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost for Education and Student Affairs, are working closely with the Examination and Assessment Contingency Panel, which is the formal body dealing with regulatory issues raised by the move to remote teaching and assessment.  

The challenges of the Covid-19 outbreak are enormous and I am hugely grateful for the immediate, thoughtful and creative response of all colleagues. As we transition to the new reality of remote teaching and assessment, it’s important to remember that we may not get everything absolutely right from the start. So while we must be nimble, improving and augmenting our teaching and assessment as we go, we must also give ourselves and our colleagues some leeway, trusting that we are all doing our best – as I know we are - Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost for Education and Student Affairs.   

Term 3 teaching delivery task group

The Remote Teaching Delivery task group, chaired by the Pro-Vice-Provost (Postgraduate Education) Professor Nora Colton, has been formed to ensure that term three teaching and dissertation supervision is delivered effectively and successfully online.   

Representation is drawn from faculties, Arena Centre, Digital Education, Office of Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs) (OVPESA), Library Services and the Students’ Union.  

The group is developing a plan to ensure that UCL can manage a swift transition to online delivery. Institutional guidance and a workflow for managing PGT/MRes dissertations in these new circumstances will be published this week.  

Members are also working to identify what additional academic and professional support can be deployed to assist staff and students in making this shift, and where best to target this support across the university. The group will also oversee the development of training materials and best practice examples. 

Online assessment task group 

The Online Assessment task group is chaired by the Pro-Vice-Provost (Digital Education) Professor Norbert Pachler. The group is made up of Faculty Tutor representatives, colleagues from Student Registry Services, Digital Education, the Arena Centre and the Office of Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs) as well as academics specialising in assessment and/or with practical experience of chairing boards of examiners. 

The group is cataloguing the options available for online delivery and submission of assessments, and will set a deadline for when alternative assessment plans must be confirmed.  

Members are overseeing resilience-testing of the university’s online platforms and reviewing how remote exams are scheduled.  

The group is also developing briefing and training materials for staff and students faced with new forms of assessment, and will be identifying where additional support can be put in place to help academic and professional staff with the practicalities of delivering alternative forms of assessment.  

The group is consulting widely with colleagues including Faculty Tutors, Vice-Deans (Education) and departmental representatives to ensure online assessment is implemented effectively. 

Covid-19 Mitigation Coordinators  

Every department has nominated two Covid-19 Mitigation Coordinators (CMCs), who will help you plan and deliver teaching and assessment. 

The task groups will feed resources, guidance and policy updates through the CMCs as and when it becomes available.  

Accessing support

The Teaching Continuity webpages provide guidance on how to teach and assess online. They are being updated daily and link to the most up-to-date information including staff drop-in support and how-to videos. 

The Arena Centre and Digital Education are also on hand to give remote support on moving to online delivery, and to discuss alternative forms of assessment. 

To book a virtual drop-in, email the Teaching Continuity mailbox with your preferred timeslot for a Teams call between 10am- 4pm, Monday-Friday.  

Digital Education are hosting staff development sessions specifically on Moodle, Lecturecast, and Blackboard Collaborate – no booking required. 

If you have any questions about the task groups, or UCL’s wider efforts to support teaching and assessment continuity in these challenging times, email the Teaching Continuity mailbox.