Archive for March 24, 2020

A Longer Haul

Posted in Education, Maynooth with tags , , on March 24, 2020 by telescoper


To nobody’s great surprise today we received official confirmation that there will be no face-to-face teaching for the rest of the semester at Maynooth University; teaching had been go on until early May. This news also made it into the Irish Independent. The previous announcement was that classes would not resume until 29th March (this Friday), now they won’t resume until the next academic year begins, in September. There will also be no in situ examinations, with all assessments being switched either to homework or remote assessments. We were pretty sure this was coming, as there is no sign yet of a reduction in the spread* of Coronavirus in Ireland, so we are as prepared as we can be for this contingency, although we now know we’re in it for a longer haul than originally announced.

Today I’ve been setting up a laboratory session for my module on Computational Physics. Instead of working in our computer lab under supervision, the students will have to work through a set of Python coding problems on their own. They’re doing numerical integration this week, by the way: being a bit old-fashioned I like to call this quadrature. The demonstrator and I will however be available (via Microsoft Teams) to deal with queries. This isn’t ideal of course but the software does allow participants to share screens, as well as audio and video chat so, I’m quite optimistic that it will work out reasonably well. I’m planning to deliver a lecture to the students on this module on Thursday which, given that the group is reasonably small, should also work reasonably well.

Update: I had a big problem uploading files to Microsoft Teams, which I couldn’t fix. I need to get that sorted out or it won’t be possible to share plots, graphs, etc. Hopefully it’s just a temporary glitch, but it’s very annoying.

My early experience with Microsoft Teams wasn’t marvellous, which led me to tweet:

I have to say though that it is perfectly functional (so far), once you get used to it. I still prefer Zoom, though.

My only other gripe is that working from home seems to have made some colleagues a little bit trigger-happy with the `ReplyAll’ button on their email.

Anyway, it seems that last night, on the wrong side of the Irish Sea, Boris Johnson finally got around to reading out the statement Emmanuel Macron dictated to him last week and the United Kingdom is finally having some form of discipline imposed. We await possible announcements of further strengthening of the restrictions already in place here in Ireland, but for the time being we carry on pretty much as before. There are few people around and about in Maynooth and many of the shops and all the pubs are closed, but it’s still possible to shop without experiencing a feeding frenzy.

On top of all that, it’s a lovely sunny day!

*I’ve put a page here tracking the daily increase in number of COVID-19 cases in Ireland.