Staff support webinar

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A special webinar dedicated to Staff Support in Online Education.

About this Event

EADTU is organising the webinar dedicated to Staff Support in Online Education on Monday 21 September 2020. Registration is on this page.


This webinar creates a unique opportunity for support staff to meet, share expertise, and learn from their peers about different ways to organise support structures for online distance education during the coronacrisis. The webinar focusses on the implementation and support of (new) educational concepts, approaches, structures and instruments within the student services & IT of our universities.

This event is open to (management of) support staff within a wide range of expertise, e.g. marketing and communication, enrollment, student administration, alumni officers, IT development and support, e-learning support, (digital) online assessments and student services.

In most countries there are only one or two online teaching universities, so there are few opportunities for support staff to share knowledge/expertise and exchange experiences on a national level. Although bachelor and master studies in online teaching universities are not fundamentally different from those at campus universities, the (digital) learning environment and the organizational aspects, underlying processes and support services are.




Monday 21 September 2020 [13:00 - 15:00 CEST]: Staff Support during the Coronacrisis

  • Digital examinations during COVID-19 and beyond; a multidisciplinary approach (Chris Kuijpers, Open University, The Netherlands)

During Covid the OUNL rapidly changed its usual way of taking exams into other forms. Most notably digital exams from home with the use of proctoring. In this operation all disciplines were involved: IT, assessment-expertise, logistics & administration, communication etc. The route we took was a mix of a military approach with strict lines of reporting and an open mindset of step by step group-learning. The effects will go beyond the COVID-period.

  • Managing online tutorials at scale at The Open University (Zoe Gipson, The Open University, The United Kingdom)

Online tutorials are a vital part of course delivery and student support at the Open University, critical to our overall teaching model. The OU delivers thousands of online events every year: formalised tutorials, larger webinars, workshops, and informal support sessions. Adobe Connect has been integrated with the OU’s Virtual Learning Environment to provide a seamless entry point for tutors and students. We usually run a blended tuition model, delivering both face-to-face and online tutorials at scale, managing timetables for thousands of staff and tens of thousands of students, with the associated logistics of balancing physical venues and many hundreds of online rooms. During the Covid-19 crisis the OU has had to temporarily cancel all face-to-face tutorials and this has inevitably seen increased use of online events. This presentation will give you an insight into how the largest UK University manages online tutorials at scale and how it has successfully adapted during lockdown. Zoe Gipson is a Senior Product Development Manager in Learning Experience and Technology at The Open University with over 15 years’ experience in Higher Education and digital teaching and learning.

  • Providing Remote Workplace Services in Emergency Situations: The case of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) (Eva Patrícia Gil Rodríguez, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain)

In this presentation we’ll explain how we’ve been providing remote workplace services at our university during the COVID-19 situation. We’ll start by describing the difference between emergency remote working and teleworking*. This should help us to differentiate between our current emergency remote working situation and the teleworking situation at the UOC before COVID-19. After a short overview of the situation in Spain since 14 March, when the government declared a state of emergency, we'll explain how we were forced to generalize remote working for everybody (teaching staff and administrative staff). Because of this situation, we had to work on two fronts:

● Reinforcing remote access to our applications

● Providing staff with workplace equipment for their homes

We’ll end our presentation by raising questions for discussion regarding the future. How to take advantage of this situation of widespread remote working at our universities? What is the best workplace scenario for online universities, and how can we make this possible? And, supposing we thought generalized teleworking was our best workplace scenario, what cultural, legal and economic issues would we have to address before implementing a change?

*Similar to this useful differentiation: Difference between emergency remote teaching and online learning

  • Delivering assessment during Covid-19 at scale at the Open University, UK. (Klaus-Dieter, OUUK, The United Kingdom).

When we realised in early March 2020 that exams could not be face2face because of Coronavirus, we came up with some timely but also daring decisions such as moving exams online, allowing generous extensions to submission deadlines, and eventually, cancelling all final assessed tasks that were not essential for completion of the course. This webinar will discuss how the university decided and developed processes to deal with over 300,000 assignments scheduled between April and June 2020. Much can be learned from the flexibility and speed that helped us being agile and focussed on students and staff at a time when even small changes could make a big difference. Negative and unintended impact on staff and students, some of which ongoing, deserve equal attention. The webinar will identify key learnings towards a pandemic emergency plan, but also how the challenge of 2020 can transform long held beliefs and practices in our university going forward.

  • Communication strategies during the covid-19 outbreak. (Erato Ioanna Sarri, OUC, Cyprus)

During the coronavirus outbreak and in those uncertain times, it was crucial for the Open University of Cyprus to communicate effectively with the University community to engage them in all educational, research and cultural activities, and with prospective students to grow their interest in open and distance education and retain them. Developing and implementing the right communication strategy and marketing action plans was considered vital to help the Open University of Cyprus mitigate the impact of the covid-19 virus for the academic year 2019-2020 that was effectively concluded, but into the future as well as far as student recruitment is concerned.

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