Beginning of the academic year with bimodal teaching
Facing the new academic year: What measures are taken to guarantee teaching quality and protect the health of the university community?
The academic year 2020/2021 is marked by the exceptionality resulting from the COVID-19 health crisis. Therefore, the University of Barcelona opted for a bimodal teaching model, combining face-to-face lessons, in reduced groups and large spaces, with online lessons, maintaining a direct interaction between the students and the lecturers, with all the necessary tools to follow the safety measures recommended by the health authorities.
In order to ease the adaption to this bimodal teaching model, the UB took several measures, which affect both the students and the lecturers of the University.
Regarding the students, in order to guarantee their access to the Internet and temporary use of laptops, the UB will hold again the aid program Connecta UB, launched some months ago and aimed at those students with economic difficulties who do not have these technological tools to continue the online academic activities. During the second semester, more than 300 students benefited from these grants and there will be another open call soon. The UB will also adapt its specific grant program, bkUB, to the new economic crisis situation. This program, provided with 300,000 euros, is aimed at bachelor and master’s degree students who are under a sudden situation of economic difficulties and cannot pay for the full or partial amount of the enrolment.
Moreover, the UB purchased laptops to replace the computers of the staff in order to enable teleworking and online lessons. The University has invested half a million euros to adapt the classrooms in the centers in order to give and record all online lessons. This is added to the launch of the training program RIMDA – Bimodal teaching, which aims to offer support and advice to the teaching staff of the UB regarding the challenges of the new academic year. To this date, more than 250 lecturers have participated in this training.
Assistance in the centers
The University of Barcelona is formed by sixteen faculties, which offer a total of 73 bachelor’s degrees, 15 dual degrees, more than 150 official master’s degrees, and a wide range of postgraduate studies and UB-specific master’s degrees. Every degree is different and so is every building. This is why there is no specific percentage of assistance in this bimodal teaching model, but every center has adapted this depending on their spaces, the number of students and groups, the specific schedules and other issues. Every faculty has decided, for every degree and even for every course, the type of teaching they need best.
However, there is a recommendation: intensity the face-to-face learning in the first-year courses, in order to pay full attention those students to enter the University for the first time. The UB has also worked to guarantee that students receive all necessary information on the new academic year, with the potential scenarios that can come up and that can change depending on what the health authorities decide.
An own contingency plan
The UB has its own Contingency Plan, which results from the University sectorial plan, approved by PROCICAT on June 29, 2020, and which fulfils with the health regulations approved by the competent authorities. The established measures in the Plan are the application of these to the university community, which includes all people who enter the facilities of the University. The Plan has specific protocols on cleaning and disinfection, as well as maintenance of facilities and individual protection measures, such as the use of masks, minimum distance between people, frequent hand hygiene with water and soap and/or hydroalcoholic gel. Moreover, it prioritizes the online format for documents and there are also protocols on the access to buildings (signals, entrance and exit doors, etc.), among other measures.