61 students have signed an open letter calling for “a plan to identify and address the shortcomings of IT Services” at College.
The letter, addressed to Senior Lecturer Professor David Shepherd and Director of Student Services Breda Walls, lists the technical difficulties that students, lecturers and administrative staff faced over the first week of teaching.
The letter was signed by School of Social Sciences and Philosophy Convenor László Molnárfi, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Convenor Sean Lysaght, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Convenor Eoghan Gilroy, and other students.
The letter suggests that these difficulties, reported by “hundreds of students” as well as staff, put students at an academic disadvantage and affect their wellbeing.
According to the letter, staff have not been able to record lectures due to the “poor technical capabilities” in lecture halls and a lack of soft and hard infrastructure. Students have reported this leads to “missing vital instructions” in lectures.
Staff attributed the outsourcing of audio visual (AV) equipment to FittingImage as a barrier to implementing hybrid learning and suggested reinstating College IT Staff as those responsible for AV support.
One member of staff reported that “outsourcing yields people who don’t know about teaching in my experience, [for example] someone from FittingImage trying to tell me that wanting to record Powerpoint plus the document camera in a large lecture theatre in Panopto was not something that was ‘normal’.”
The letter also reports that the College WiFi “cuts out intermittently or does not allow devices to connect at all”, with the most “unreliable” internet connection in the Faculty of Health Sciences, the School of Chemistry and the lower floors of the Lloyd building. According to the letter, students are unable to attend online lectures and tutorials and have previously faced “massive delays” in online module enrollment, putting them at an “academic disadvantage.”
The letter also criticised the quality of my.tcd.ie and said that programmes installed on the computers in Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute are “out of date.”
The letter also stated that the College printers outsourced to Datapac are “unreliable”. The letter also criticised College for not providing a VPN to PhD students, which “impacts their ability to do research efficiently.”
Students signing the letter asked the Senior Lecturer and Director of Student Services to address the shortcomings of IT Services “with all relevant stakeholders, including students, and administrative and academic staff”, and to make sure these issues do not reoccur next year.