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It seems incredibly strange to think that we’re coming up to the autumn of 2020 already. With most of us having spent the summer in our homes, it feels odd to emerge into this limbo where we’re all itching to get back to a sort of normal, but still unsure about what that will look like. Understandably, there’s a lot of anxiety around navigating the return to our campuses and a different approach to learning and teaching.

In our last issue we mentioned the new guidance to support Semester 1 planning on the Adaptation and Renewal sharepoint. In preparation for September, we wanted to share some of the resources that teams in the Students Work Stream have been creating to support our teaching staff and your students for the new semester.

Hybrid teaching resources

Although hybrid teaching isn’t a new form of teaching, it is relatively new to many colleagues at Edinburgh. Staff across our Colleges have quickly embraced this new attitude to working but it can still feel daunting. Teams in the Students Work Stream have pulled together helpful resources and are continually drawing up new guidance and principals for September.

We’ve already introduced the Institute for Academic Development’s (IAD) new Hybrid Teaching Exchange website which offers a central place to share best practice tips from our teaching staff about hybrid teaching. It has a list of resources for staff which is a good place to start if you feel a little overwhelmed.

The IAD also offers plenty of other support for hybrid teaching on their main website including online courses exploring what a hybrid approach to teaching and learning looks like in practice. Don’t forget to keep looking at the Teaching Matters blog too as the team continue to regularly explore and share learning and teaching ideas beyond our hybrid approach.

Information services (IS) have compiled teaching continuity preparation guidance which includes tips, training and tools available to all staff. You can sign up to one of the drop-in sessions or you can investigate the suite of media production studios to help with the creation of materials for hybrid learning. IS have also developed an ABC guide for hybrid teaching to support the rapid move to digital content.

It’s more important than ever that each one of our students can access what they need to. Accessibility of this new digital content is vital. Recently published subtitling guidance is available as well as further advice on creating accessible materials for all our students.

Supporting your students

We know that you’re just as concerned for the wellbeing of your students and how they’ll be able to adapt, not only to hybrid learning, but to a completely different University experience. You can find detailed information on the sharepoint site about this but here are a few key things you can use or pass on to your students to help with any anxieties.

A big concern for students embarking on the hybrid teaching format is the technology they will need to complete their work. The sharepoint site has a copy of the guidance available to students around which kind of device they might need as well as more information around the new laptop loan service.

The IAD have updated their ‘study hub’ for students which includes learning resources for students and an accompanying blog to help students navigate their studies. The updated section on hybrid learning and teaching has lots of tips to help adapt to this approach and links out to other sources for more support.

Andy Shanks, Director of Student Wellbeing, has worked on a toolkit for personal tutors and student support staff to help navigate their roles next semester. This includes communications tool and key sites for student support as well as ways to help with students’ mental health and wellbeing.

There is also new guidance around fieldtrips, placements and study away for our students. The Edinburgh Global and Returning Students webpages have much more detailed information on this.

Getting back on campus

Thinking about resuming teaching again also means navigating a return to campus, and it’s understandable that there will be concerns around this. The Estates and Digital Infrastructure Work Stream has been working on this but here are a few resources you should find reassuring.

In the last bulletin issue, we shared the Estates and Digital Infrastructure video on what to expect when you return to campus. You can find the Health and Safety training mentioned here.

In the meantime, the Students work stream is creating guidance for in-person meetings and activities which will be shared widely with all staff before the new semester starts.

The Timetabling team has been working with Schools to figure out when and where on-campus teaching will be taking place. They can help with working out which space will work best for which teaching actives.

You can also keep an eye on the campus reopening reports which are updated regularly by the Estates and Digital Infrastructure work stream.

As we get closer to September, the Adaptation and Renewal sharepoint pages will be updated with detailed information about the beginning of Semester 1. If you have a question that’s not included on there, you can email arc-team@ed.ac.uk.

Photography: Douglas Robertson; Paul Dodds; svetikd/GettyImages