Updates to teaching and learning

Read an update on teaching and learning at the University under COVID-19 alert levels 1 and 2.

Although New Zealand has managed and controlled the spread of COVID-19 well, the risk of an outbreak at some point remains. It is a Government requirement that the University be prepared to transition to a higher alert level within 24 hours’ notice for at least the remainder of this year.  We also need to accommodate enrolled students who cannot arrive on campus due to the current restrictions.

In response to the pandemic, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington has changed the way we teach and assess our students, and some of the academic accommodations we have put in place are outlined below. Further updates will be posted here periodically. Unless otherwise specified, the changes apply at alert levels 1 and 2 to all trimesters this academic year, including Trimester 3.

Staff are taking care in redesigning courses and assessments to ensure that overall student workload is within our guidelines.  Students should also be aware that provisions around withdrawal dates and refunds have returned to normal.

Aegrotats

An aegrotat pass is an ungraded pass awarded to a student who is not well enough to either (1) take or prepare for a test or (2) complete a piece of assessment due in the last three weeks of teaching. The cause may be illness, injury, or other factors beyond your control.

Read more about aegrotat passes and how to apply.

Course feedback

You will be able to provide feedback on your courses in the last three weeks of the trimester.  We will review your feedback to assess what changes are necessary to improve our delivery of courses.  You can also provide feedback via our student surveys.

Delivery of courses: dual mode delivery

At alert levels 1 and 2 in Trimesters 2 and 3 this year, each course will be offered in two different modes (unless the course is on the approved exception list).

Mode 1 (face-to-face/blended mode): Courses that have normally offered face-to-face lectures in previous years will continue to do so this year. For every course you take, you will be able to meet with academic staff involved with the course each week and, in addition, most courses will offer additional in-person teaching experiences, such as tutorials, labs, workshops, and placements.

Mode 2 (fully online/remote mode): Students who are unable to come to campus can enrol in and complete their courses remotely through an online delivery option, unless the course has a compulsory face-to-face or in-person component (see the approved exception list for details). All lectures should either be recorded or streamed in 2020.

To find out more about the way individual courses will be delivered, please look at the course outline or the announcement on the Blackboard course page.

Online delivery needs to be accessible and disability inclusive to ensure all students can fully access courses.
Online learning is flexible but requires good self-discipline and motivation. The Student Learning team supports students to develop their academic skills and have created online learning tools to help you learn online effectively. Students can book an appointment to talk to a Learning Adviser virtually, or attend workshops in person or virtually.

If you are unable to study from home because you do not have access to a computer, specific software or a wifi connection, you can apply to the laptop loan scheme.

Examinations and assessment

Given the uncertainty around the alert levels that will be in place for the rest of the year, there will be no in-person exams in Trimesters 2 and 3 (except in very rare cases where an accreditation body requires them). However, there will be in-person tests in some courses (with provisions for students who cannot for good reason attend).

Examination requirements are replaced by other forms of assessment in all courses across the University in Trimesters 2 and 3. Synchronous assessment will be avoided where possible to accommodate students working from overseas (in a different time zone) and to accommodate other students who cannot for good reason attend lectures.

Accessible assessment arrangements are available for students with disabilities who might require them. Contact Disability Services (disability@vuw.ac.nz) to speak with a disability and inclusion adviser and discuss your needs.

Extensions and changing assessments for individual students

In considering extension requests, and requests to waive, reweight or provide alternative assessments for individual students, course coordinators are expected to be flexible where it is appropriate and helpful. If the grounds for the request impact you for one week or less, no evidence in the form of a medical certificate will be required.

Mandatory attendance requirements

All mandatory (in-person) attendance requirements in undergraduate courses will be waived in Trimesters 2 and 3. If in-person participation is considered important to a course (e.g., courses with a significant lab, studio, workplace, or performance element), the design of the course should be able to accommodate a change between COVID-19 alert levels (to be delivered remotely) at 24-hours’ notice. Any changes will be communicated to students in the course outline and on Blackboard.

Placements and internships

In case the alert levels change, where possible, there should be a plan in place prior to the placement commencing to ensure that you can still complete it.

Post-assessment moderation

Moderation procedures in all courses in Trimesters 2 and 3 will compare grade distributions from previous years. In courses where grades are lower on average compared to previous years, scaling of the overall grades or grades for one or more of the component assessment items will be applied.
Marks or grades for assessment items will not be scaled down.

Student workload

One point is regarded as equivalent to 10 hours of work by an average student for one course, including formal lectures, tutorials, assignments, examinations, and private study. The work hours a student devotes to a course, therefore, should not differ depending on the mode of delivery.