Covid-19 Contingency Arrangements

Version 2 – May 2020

 

This notice provides details of The Open College’s response plan for the COVID-19 event and a proposed contingency plan to maintain delivery of programmes.

Reasons for this Information:

  1. To minimise infection spread, protecting students, placement staff and Open College staff
  2. To follow national guidelines
  3. To minimise impact on students in a changing environment
  4. To ensure continued assessment validity and content delivery.

 

Summary:

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is business as usual at The Open College and we continue to deliver all our accredited online programmes as we normally do and with no major changes to how we have operated over the last number of years. The main changes are in the Assessment approaches as noted below and the cancellation of small number of attendance learning classes.

 

Administration & Lecturing Staff Working Remotely:

All managers, faculty and administration staff will continue to support learners in remote delivery of content to students and manage the operational and financial day-to-day work remotely.

Prior to the COVID 19 restrictions The Open College had already set up remote working capabilities for all Administrative support staff. All staff including lecturers:

  • Have access to their encrypted computers
  • Access to their office phone system – remote
  • Office 365 has been in place and is used for all communication and file sharing requirements
  • Access to LMS systems that were already in place and no change was required.

In addition:

  • Ongoing internal IT support remains in place
  • Ongoing external IT support remains in place.

 

Placement Requirements:

All programmes that requires learners to be out on placement, which operated up to March 2020, are currently on hold and we note that QQI’s Assessment document does not specifically address work based practice requirements of programmes.

We considered that this needed particular attention, as without a clearly stated position on this area, many students could be prevented from progressing or graduating. We welcomed QQI’s position stated in their Assessment Document:

“In sofar as practicable, the graduating classes of 2020 should be enabled to achieve the qualifications that they are striving towards. While we cannot yet be certain about the level of impact that Covid-19 will have on the tertiary education system’s capacity to adapt, we are confident that with ingenuity and resolve many learners will be able to graduate this year as planned with trustworthy qualifications.”

This position guided our response and will continue to guide our practice while social distancing requirements are in place and we have organised alternative temporary assessment arrangements as noted below.

Work Placements specifically relating to Work Experience modules (5N1356) and (6N1946) are on hold. These specific modules will need to be completed at a later date.

 

Assessment Changes:

The Open College is particularly aware of the importance of recognising the strain that this is placing on students, and the worry that many feel about their progression and certification.

We consider that QQI’s guidance on assessment for progression is particularly useful as it allows The Open College to draw on our expertise in facilitating students to demonstrate their ability to progress.

Academic Council and Governance structures have facilitated us with the capability to appropriately implement agreeable assessment strategies where required for the remainder of 2020. When making any changes to assessments, we have considered the following guidance set out by QQI that states:

  1. In principle, a given learning outcome can be assessed in multiple different ways. What matters is not the form of assessment used, but rather that it can validly and reliably determine whether the necessary learning outcomes have been achieved.
  2. Intended learning outcomes can sometimes be quite granular and include elements that are incidental rather than central to expectations. If the current situation makes the achievement of such incidental outcomes impossible, it may be reasonable to replace or remove them, provided it does not substantially affect the overall expected learning outcomes. This does not apply to core learning outcomes associated with the qualification; these cannot be compromised.

 

Theory Examinations (Attendance):

There have been some changes to this type of examination for some modules in that such Theory examinations will now be taken remotely, with additional protocols in place (QQI guidelines) to ensure validity. Online Theory Examinations will apply the same Exam restrictions as with Attendance Settings – i.e. Set durations and Access to Papers will be restricted to Exam days.

Access & Training videos have been produced and Test Exams are in place for practice.

Copy & Paste restrictions are in place and some Exam paper questions have been altered to ensure students cannot reply to text questions with generic text and information.

Exam papers are checked through Turnitin which is a plagiarism detector. Any exams that are flagged by the system will result in an automatic fail with no option of a resit.

 

Skills Demonstration & Reflective Assessments:

Amendments and Changes now consider learners past/previous experiences and/or external readings/research on a ‘how would you approach’ as opposed to ‘how did you approach’.

Assessment Briefs have been temporally changed to reflect the above changes.

Programme Lecturers and Support Staff are in constant contact with all cohorts affected and detailed protocols, supports and timelines have been developed.

 

Contacting Us:

The primary means of contacting Programme Lecturers and/or Academic Support Staff is through email contact in the first instance. Other communication channels include – Live Chat, Info Account, Moodle Messaging and Social Media Messaging.

Our main contact number is: +353-1-2061828 and continues to operate as normal.

 

Key Contact Points:

 

Administrative Area Lead Member Email address Tel number
General Information All Staff info@theopencolleege.com +353 1 2061828, Option 6
Admissions Deirdre Kennedy admissions@theopencollege.com +353 1 2061828, Option 1
Assessments Eoghan Fitzmaurice assignments@theopencollege.com +353 1 2061828, Option 3
Exams Dawid Maszkiewicz exams@theopencollege.com +353 1 2061828, Option 5
Results Lily Jo  results@theopencollege.com +353 1 2061828, Option 2
Certification Oxana Martynova  certification@theopencollege.com +353 1 2061828, Option 4
Education Technologist Adrian Reen  adrian.reen@theopencollege.com +353 1 2061828
Work Placement Coordinator and Careers Support Manager Mary McGlynn  careers@theopencollege.com +353 1 2061828, Ext 111
Student Finance / Easy Payment Brenda Maguire  info@theopencollege.com +353 1 2061828, Ext 103
Turnitin / Projects Sophie Kennedy  skennedy@theopencollege.com +353 1 2061828, Ext 105
Lecturers / Tutors Liaison Manager Aibhin Dunne  adunne@theopencollege.com +353 1 2061828, Ext 112
Lecturers / Tutors All  Tutor Email Accounts as listed in Programme Handbooks
Operations Manager Michelle Curley  mcurley@theopencollege.com +353 1 2061828, Ext 103
Managing Director Joe Walsh  jwalsh@theopencollege.com +353 1 2061832
Accounts Sinead Brennan accounts@theopencollege.com +353 1 2061828

 

Thank you for taking time to read this and please feel free to contact the College with any queries.

 

The Open College is reviewing the situation on a daily basis and will communicate with our students through the various communication channels with updates. Please check in at least once each day.