Colleges to focus on small group learning to comply with Covid-19 restrictions

Universities are planning to create a “blended” education between online and in-person learning.

Most Irish universities have announced that they are planning on limiting access for students to college campuses to a few days a week, with many replacing most lectures with online tuition in the next academic term and placing an emphasis on small groups of students in physical settings.

Although Trinity is yet to announce details of the next academic year, a spokesperson speaking to the Irish Times has confirmed that College intends to move larger lectures online. Small group tutorials and laboratory work are expected to be facilitated on campus.

A focus on teaching with small groups has appeared across several universities’ planned approaches, with some proposing that students on campus will work together in “pods” or small groups to allow social distancing procedures.

University College Dublin (UCD) has announced its next academic term is due to start on 21 September 2020 and lectures are to be livestreamed to reduce the number of students on campus.

UCD President Andrew Deeks said that the college would seek to ensure students can use the campus “to the greatest extent possible” and core modules would still have components that will be delivered face-to-face.

Technological University Dublin’s (TU Dublin) President David Fitzpatrick told students there would be a maximum of 30% occupancy in lecture theatres, laboratories and other social spaces.

The capacity of large lecture theatres may need to be reduced by up to 90% in order to apply social distancing measures during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an unpublished Higher Education Authority (HEA) report.

Dublin City University (DCU) also said that is was intending to hold a “hybrid” of online learning and in-person classes and that students, who would be on campus for only a few days a week, would have the option to indicate whether they would require accommodation for specific days, weeks or months, rather than making a booking for the entire academic year.

Maynooth University (MU), the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway), University College Cork (UCC) and the University of Limerick (UL) have all also expressed that they are also planning a “blended” learning model for the upcoming academic term. 

These physical restrictions on campus are being made in response to the Covid-19 crisis and the social distancing measures the government has in place. 

Schools and colleges around Ireland have been closed since 6pm on March 12 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the News Editor of Trinity News, and a Junior Fresh English and Philosophy student.