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Online Teaching, Learning and Assessment: Advice & Guidance for Students

Advice and guidance for disabled students on remote teaching and learning

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How will my classes be delivered?

Semester 1 will follow a hybrid model which combines online and face to face elements such as offering online lectures for larger class groupings and face-to-face seminars, tutorials and laboratory classes for smaller groups. As much face-to-face teaching and learning as possible will be provided under prevailing health and safety requirements. A decision on the second semester will be taken closer to the time. Some classes may be delivered via Blackboard Learn, Trinity’s Learning Management System (LMS). It is a virtual classroom where students and instructors can interact and share information. To access Blackboard Learn, visit www.tcd.blackboard.com. You will see a list of the modules you are registered for when you log in. Read guidance on Using Blackboard Learn or watch the introductory video below.

Start Learning to Learn Online

‘Learning to Learn Online In Trinity’ new Blackboard Module for TCD Students includes:

  • Getting Started for Learning Online
  • Working Together Online
  • Creating a Study Routine
  • Preparing for Assessments

Students can self-enrol for this module as follows: 

  1. Go to Blackboard Learn.
  2. Log in using your College network username and password.
  3. In the Module Search box enter 'Learning to Learn Online in Trinity' or 'VP10022'.
  4. Click on the module.
  5. Click on +Enrol at the bottom of the module menu on the left of the screen.
  6. Click OK. You may need to log out and back into Blackboard if you cannot see all the content in the module after self-enrolling.

Identifying and accommodation learning needs

For some or all of your classes you may find that some of your reasonable accommodations are no longer needed, some may need to change, and/or you may need additional or new accommodations. If you think the reasonable accommodations you currently have will not work with online learning, please visit the DS Staff webpage to contact your Disability Officer.

The video below also explains how to make an appointment with a member of the Disability Service team.

Communicating your learning needs to College staff

All students requiring support for learning register with the Trinity Disability Service have a Learning Educational Needs Summary (LENS). The information in the LENS report is made available to the relevant staff within the University (i.e. teaching staff, Disability Service personnel, your Tutor) to help them also provide assistance. More information about LENS reports is available on our Communicating with your School webpage.

Getting help with study skills

Student Learning Development (SLD) provide comprehensive support for academic and study skills in their Blackboard module. Click on the module title to enrol on this course.

Accessing books and journals from Trinity Library

Off-campus access to licensed electronic resources (books, databases and journals) will remain available to all registered staff and students during the closure period. The Library Catalogue, Stella Search, continues to be available. You can also contact the Subject Librarian for assistance with locating reading material relating to your modules.

Accessing Microsoft 365 in Trinity

Office 365 is free for all registered students in TCD, you can download it for free by going to http://office.tcd.ie. For further information on this service please review IT Services support pages

Convert documents to mp4, eBooks or Braille using Blackboard Ally

Transform your files to formats that work for you through Blackboard Ally.

Accessibility Features on computers/devices

Follow the My Computer My Way guide to ensure that you are getting the most out of your computer/device and improving access to your course materials.

Advice and guidance for disabled students on remote assessment

student help page

Types of assessment used in remote examinations

All in-person examinations have been changed to alternative modes of assessment that can be delivered online. These include a range of options that are explained at the link below.

Preparing for exams and assessments

Student Learning Development (SLD) provide comprehensive support for academic and study skills in their Blackboard module. Click on the module title to enroll on this course

Exam accommodations

Trinity is committed to ensuring that its examination system enables students with disabilities to compete equally with their non-disabled peers. To put exam accommodations in place students must first complete an Application for Reasonable Accommodations with the Disability Service. Exam accommodations are then agreed upon during the Needs Assessment process.

For detailed information on standard and non-standard exam accommodations read our Exam Accommodations webpage.

Using technology in exams

You can use assistive technology such as screen magnification and screen reading tools, spelling and grammar checking software, and hardware or software for reading documents or dictating essays. DS recommends that students become familiar with and practice using accessibility features (see link below) at the beginning of the academic year, including touch typing exercises. Video guides for reading and voice dictation are available from our Blackboard module ASKDS Disability Support Services.

Using the disclosure of disability sticker

Students with dyslexia and students who are deaf or have a hearing impairment may opt to disclose their disability on their examination scripts in any examination modality. It is the students' responsibility to copy the link to the Disclosure of Disability Sticker.

How to set up a low distraction exam space

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Online Teaching, Learning and Assessment: Advice & Guidance for Staff

This web resource provides academics with an overview of accessibility in teaching and assessment and general “getting started” strategies for making learning resources, tools, experiences, and opportunities accessible to all learners. Creating an accessible learning environment for your students is part of an inclusive practice. If you’re interested in learning more about inclusive teaching in general, please see the Inclusive Learning Information on making your teaching and assessment inclusive.

Trinity guidance on creating online accessible materials

Trinity guidance for Inclusive Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Our Guidelines for Inclusive Teaching Methods provide comprehensive advice on course content, learning outcomes, assessment, supervision, and physical environment.

When creating your own learning materials, setting up your Virtual Learning Environment in Blackboard(VLE), consider the points below. These recommendations take into consideration students who encounter your online materials through technology in ways that you may not anticipate, by using a screen reader for example, or accessing the material through dated devices.

Content within Blackboard needs to be accessible for all students, whether or not the content was created or designed by the academic lecturer.

1. Blackboard Ally

A added resource to Blackboard for all academics to view how usable and accessible their course material is within Blackboard - click here for Blackboard Ally support

Many of the same techniques used to ensure that in-person course materials are accessible apply to those delivered online. Some accessibility concerns are particular to hybrid online courses. The following tips are specific to hybrid or online-only classes:

2. Top 10 tips for Accessible Online Content:

  1. Make sure to use a sans serif font (e.g. Arial, Verdana, Calibri) and minimum size of font on slides (24) and written word or pdf documents (12).
  2. Use consistent layouts and organisational schemes to present content, and make the organisational system obvious to students. This can serve as a roadmap for the course, and help students understand where they have been and where they are going in terms of learning. Accessible information is information provided in a clear and easy to follow format.
  3. Use heading styles, and use them in an effective hierarchy in both Word and web pages, and create bookmarks and document structure tags when creating PDFs. 
  4. Add descriptive Alternative Text to images in all documents to help those who use screen readers (and if an image is purely decorative, use Alt=””). Alt-text helps students accessing your material with a screen reader understand what images are on the page. Most software programs that allow images to be embedded also allow you to create alt-text associated with the image. In Blackboard, the “embed image” dialog box gives a space for alt-text, as does PowerPoint.
  5. Use Left Justified paragraphs, and one and a half spacing to improve readability. 
  6. Use colour contrast and patterns to convey meaning as well as colour. Avoid using red, green and pink to convey information. Print colour items in black and white to see how the contrast works.
  7. Don’t underline text or it will be confused with links. 
  8. Use descriptive and embedded hyperlinks to direct your audience to other content instead of web address links. Never use ‘click here’(e.g., use “Trinity Academic Practice” rather than “click here” or the full URL “www.tcd.ie/CAPSL”). This makes the destination of the link clear to all students, and makes the links easier to scan, find, and use for students using a screen reader. An exception to this rule is when listing email addresses; in this case, type out addresses rather than embedding them (e.g., “academicpractice@tcd.ie” rather than “Academic Practice”) because screen readers may not recognize the descriptive text as an email address. 
  9. Use bullets and numbered lists to break up text and use punctuation at the end of each item. 
  10. Run the 'Check Accessibility' tool on your Microsoft Office files. It will highlight areas for improvement.

3. Captions assist students and staff with audio processing issues and those listening in their non-native language.

Trinity College IT Services support the following tools :

  1. Panopto - The Panopto Lecture Capture Service allows you to record, edit, share and stream video, audio, Powerpoint and screen capture content for audiences such as your staff colleagues, your students, and other third parties or the public. It manages your recordings for you using a cloud based content management storage system. You can also record from within Blackboard (mymodule.tcd.ie) and post directly to your module. For support on editing captioning provided by this service view this link Panopto - captions support
  2. Blackboard Collaborate-Blackboard Collaborate is Trinity's supported web-lecture software for holding real-time online ‘virtual classroom’ sessions with your students, wherever they are located. You can run interactive seminars, tutorials or meetings with your students. These sessions are usually called webinars.  The webinars are set up, accessed and delivered from within the Blackboard virtual learning environment. Moderators must make attendees captioners. Captioners type what is being said during a session. Other attendees can view what is being typed in real time. You can have multiple captioners for multiple languages. There is no automatic capturing of captioning from this service. For more information on captioning in this service please view - Blackboard caption support page
  3. Microsoft Teams - Teams is a collaboration app available through Office 365 which has been designed for maximum 250 attendees of people who work together regularly; its largest benefit is instant communication amongst a small group and the ability to share information and files easily all in one centralised place. Automatic captioning is provided by this service. For information on how to activate this function please view - Microsoft Teams Caption support page
  4. Microsoft Powerpoint - Live Captions and Subtitles in PowerPoint can provide captions for your presentation in the same language you are speaking or translate it into another language in real-time! This feature is only available when using PowerPoint in Office 365 or in the app downloaded from Office 365. For support on how to caption within Microsoft Powerpoint please click on this link.

Non TCD Supported Captioning Tools:

Zoom - Zoom does not offer automatic captioning as per MS Teams. Zoom have collaborated with a number of 3rd part vendors such as Otter.ai or rez.com that allow a user to purchase a plug-in to allow this automatic captioning service. Please note these tools are currently not supported with IT Service. Similar to Blackboard collaborate Zoom provide in formation on how to manually provide captioning. For further support information from Zoom on this service please click on this link.

TCD Procurement Captioning services - Human Generated Captions:

TCD Procurement do have a preferred supplier in purchasing human based captioning services - Premier Captioning & Real Time ltd - category code 82111604. For further information on there services please view this link

Transcripts can help students who wish to review audio content separately from the audio or visual medium. A way to quickly generate an audio transcript is to upload the audio to YouTube, download the automatically generated caption file, and then edit that file.

Accessible file formats ensure that files are available for students who may not have access to or who cannot use some software packages. Formats that are generally accessible are: .pdf for documents, .jpeg for images, .mp3 for audio, and .mp4 for video. Note: For text documents, we recommend offering files in two formats (.pdf and as a Word document) because some document formats cannot be accessed by all screen reading software (used by students with visual impairments to read documents aloud).

Accessible online meetings for disabled students

Hosting inclusive meetings is more important than ever if all students are to have access to the same learning opportunities. Social media is an incredibly important and useful tool for communication, instruction and promotion yet accessibility on these platforms can be a significant issue for individuals with disabilities. Accessibility features do exist for each social media platform and this webpage will provide tips to help you make your social media posts more inclusive. Please see the guides below for ensuring full inclusion in meetings, tutorials and forums.

CAPSL guidance on inclusive supervision

Ergonomics for study

  • Read our Guide to Good Ergonomics for some tops tips on creating a comfortable study space that supports physical and mental health.

Advice and guidance for staff for remote assessment

adapting-assessment -process map

CAPSL guidance for online assessment and examination

Remote Viva Voce examinations

Zoom or Microsoft Teams are the two recommended online platforms to be used. In particular, no viva is to be conducted using audio or phone. In each location, measures should be taken such that appropriate conditions are in place ensuring minimal disruption, security and integrity of the examination.

Procedures for the Operation of a Virtual/Remote Viva Voce Examination