Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has introduced a new module to prepare students for ‘blended learning’ in the new academic year with no signs of a similar module for UCD. The module, named “Learning to Learn Online in Trinity”, is available to students now on Blackboard with academic and professional staff also granted access.

The module consists of four blocks, three of which are available now, and the fourth of which will be available in September 2020. It is “thematically structured”, meaning each block is designed to prepare students for a different aspect of online learning. The three blocks available now are designed to help students get started with online learning, adapt to working online with others, and create a study routine. The fourth block will help students prepare for assessments. Each block is estimated to take one hour to complete.

TCD notes that upon completion, students should be able to “reflect on the importance of independent study in successful learning at third level”, and to identify strategies to support effective learning in a hybrid context. TCD have stated that the module is not for credit, and that it is a “self-study” module, designed to be accessed by students at any time.

UCD is similarly planning to implement blended learning in September, with students spending anywhere from 20% to 86% of their learning time in classrooms, and the remainder online. However, the University has not released plans to introduce a similar module to help students adapt. Speaking to The College Tribune, UCDSU Education Officer, Hannah Bryson said that, “’We are currently unaware if UCD [is] planning to provide resources to assist with blended learning, aside from the government funding for tech equipment.”

The Tribune also spoke to two UCD lecturers about TCD’s new module and asked them whether or not the University should introduce a similar programme. David Farrell, head of UCD’s School of Politics, told us that: “The TCD module does sound interesting. I’m not aware of plans to do the same in UCD, but it might merit consideration. Lecturers in our College are being offered training and support to prepare for hybrid teaching.”

Iarfhlaith Watson, Head of UCD’s School of Sociology, expressed similar feelings about the prospect of such a module, noting that lecturers have been provided with training and support for the upcoming move to blended learning. “In the School we have gathered from colleagues’ requests for support and have organised several training sessions. The College is also preparing many supports to help lecturers. The idea of a module for students is an interesting one and worth considering.”

Isobel Dunne – Reporter