What Wittenborg Students Can Expect When Class-Based Education Starts Again in Late August
A detailed plan mapping out the steps Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences will take in the next few months, as it prepares to start class-based teaching in the new academic year, has been presented by the Executive Board. It contains several COVID-19 prevention measures to ensure the safety of both students and staff, which include not having more students than possible in one class and running classes from morning to evening in the future.
Like other institutions of higher education in the Netherlands, Wittenborg was forced to move all its education online in March to ensure that students would have no study delay, or study break. The upshot of this is that for the last 3 months Wittenborg was able to invest heavily in online databases of journals, books and successfully extending its ICT infrastructure to facilitate online delivery. "These investments will help make our education provision in the future even better," Wittenborg President Peter Birdsall said in a letter to students.
He emphasised though that Wittenborg has no plans to become a fully online university of applied sciences. "We would like to make it perfectly clear that we are not delivering online programmes and that all of our degrees are full-time degrees (actually obligatory for any student on a study visa). In the future, we may offer some part-time degrees online for students outside of the Netherlands; however, this will not affect our current programmes on location."
From 2 June, Wittenborg re-opened its Apeldoorn and Amsterdam locations as well as book and library facilities in line with the gradual lifting of restrictions by the Dutch government. "We are now getting towards the end of the academic year, and preparing to move all classes back into school locations as from the autumn. To do this we will have to take some measures that will ensure that not more students than possible are in a classroom at the same time and we shall also have to programme lessons from morning to evening according to government guidelines; however, we aim to run a normal timetable as far as we possibly can. We will also continue to support all students online as needed, which is especially important for those who cannot attend class on location due to travel restrictions at that time or individual health concerns," Birdsall said.
Laptops in Classes
All lessons will be run on location and students are required to attend with laptops (or tablets), as lessons will be using Moodle and Teams to teach, but also so that students who cannot attend can also follow online. Laptops should have a wireless connection to Eduroam configured and have a battery capacity to last the lessons on that day, as charging capacity in classrooms is limited.
Attendance vs Participation
Attendance requirement will not be re-introduced; however, we will maintain the participation requirement for taught modules. We will ensure that teachers make the ‘participation’ manageable without increasing the study load, but adding to the learning experience.
Staff and Students Thanked for Responding Efficiently to Crisis
Birdsall thanked staff for responding quickly and efficiently as the COVID-19 crisis arrived. "We are extremely proud of our staff for the effective way in which they have managed to provide full-time education to you, our students, under such difficult conditions.
"We are especially proud of the way that you students have reacted to this situation, and continued to study and learn and achieve credits in this way. Special compliments to those of you who actually started your studies online, ready to arrive when you are able to. Thank you everyone."
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press