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Delivering online learning to students

Today, Pro Vice Chancellor for Education and Students Kelly Coate sent an email to students outlining the principles behind online learning and along with some of the immediate decisions that have been made.  

Kelly outlined that a large number of our students have been very active in picking up their studies using Canvas and Panopto and academics have also given some very encouraging feedback about how this is working.  

Students were told that the University recognises this is a significant change in the way we deliver teaching, and that investment is being made in new technology platforms and tools to help staff and students over the coming weeks.  

The principles:  

The principles agreed to guide all the decisions in delivering students’ education for the rest of the academic year are:   

  1. Introducing flexibility in the timings of assessment deadlines 
  2. Ensuring students’ grades are not negatively impacted by the global Covid-19 situation 
  3. Taking into consideration the transition to online learning can bring challenges 
  4. Commitment to helping students however we can to get the most from online learning 
  5. Responding to students’ questions as quickly as possible  

The decisions:  

We have agreed that all students will be given a two-week extension for all A2 assessments  

A2 assessments will now take place from 25 May until 13 June 2020. Students with agreed reasonable adjustments for extra time will continue to receive this in addition to this A2 two-week extension.  

Students may also continue to submit assignments early and ahead of the submission due date if they want to.  

Please be aware that Sussex Direct will currently show the original dates for students’ A2 assessments. We will update the dates as soon as possible and let students know when the changes have been made.  

Dissertation deadlines for Masters students are under active consideration. More information will be available in my update next week.  

All other deadlines between now and this time will remain in place, unless you have been notified otherwise.  

Students semester two grades will not be impacted adversely by the global Covid-19 situation  

The University will ensure that students are not disadvantaged by the unprecedented and unpredictable global situation. The impact that Covid-19 will have had on learning will be taken into consideration when awarding Semester two grades.  

We will take into consideration that the transition to online learning can present challenges  

Whilst some students have been able to move into the online teaching model smoothly, we accept that for others this has and will be harder. We do understand that the availability of study space, access to good internet connection and technology is not the same for everyone.  

We are working hard to find new solutions and more will become available over the coming days and weeks. However, we will take this into consideration.   

We are committed to helping students get the most out of the online study space  

We’re aware that some of the study spaces on Canvas and Panopto are not being used as much as they could be – and we know tutors are keen to help students get the most of the platforms and the materials they have developed.  

New software and platforms  

Over the past few days, we have invested in many new software packages and platforms for students to use, particularly to help with learning online. Students and staff will need to use their Sussex email to sign-up. This includes Adobe Creative Cloud, which gives free access to software such as Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Pro.  

New communication tools  

The University will soon be sharing details about our new licence for Zoom, the popular video communication platform – which will be a great way for students to stay in touch with other students for group study, and with their tutors. 

Online learning advice  

There is a new dedicated module on Canvas – on on how students can maximise learning online.  

We’re supporting students with the transition to learning online by going to these dedicated webpages on the Student Hub 

Responding to students’ questions – and keeping in touch with them regularly   

As well as the information updated daily on the Student Hub (with dedicated Coronavirus pages), Kelly Coate will be writing to students every week by email, which will include answers to questions they are asking, provide clarification on any new guidance and procedures, and confirm decisions as they are made.  

These changes will help support the hundreds of staff who are working very hard to deliver students’ education online.   

All this information is available to students on the Student Hub which we will continue to keep updated.  


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By: Charlie Littlejones
Last updated: Friday, 27 March 2020

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