Questions and answers for lecturers

Since the start of the semester on 20 April 2020, Ruhr-Universität has been offering its students a complete semester. Since in-person classes must be suspended for the time being, you as teachers are obliged to organise your seminars and lectures in such a manner that they can be carried out remotely, wherever possible. In order to help you tackle this challenge, the Centre of Academic Didactics (ZfW) has set up a website for you, providing information on possible scenarios and digital tools as well as service and advice. The ZfW page is continuously upgraded and updated.

Here, we essentially answer teachers’ questions. The page was created on 19 March 2020 and is continuously updated. The date stamp behind each question indicates when it was answered.

If you have any general questions regarding classes, please reach out at the following address: Lehre-SoSe20@ruhr-uni-bochum.de

May oral exams take place? (6 May 2020)

Since 16 March 2020, exams – with the exception of hardship cases – were prohibited by a decree issued by the Ministry of Culture and Science NRW. As per the Corona University Ordinance issued on April 17, exams may now be held again; from 11 May also written exams. Details can be found on the dedicated page “Exams” (“Prüfungen”) in the "Serviceportal".

How and when can postponed examinations of the winter semester 2019/2020 be taken? (4 May 2020)

Since 16 March 2020, exams – with the exception of hardship cases – were prohibited by a decree issued by the Ministry of Culture and Science NRW. As per the Corona University Ordinance issued on April 17, exams may now be held again; from 11 May also written exams. Details can be found in the "Serviceportal".

What if the use of RUB laboratories is required for the completion of final theses? (4 May 2020)

Drawn up in consultation with the faculties, the faculties’ staff deployment plans may provide for the use of the laboratories for these purposes under certain conditions.

For empirical research or experimental research that cannot be carried out or continued due to the current situation, an extension of the deadline can also be agreed with the examiners. If a thesis is not yet at an advanced stage, students have the option to choose a different topic or find an alternative that doesn’t require their own empirical research.

May holiday classes or “Blockseminare” take place during summer break, i.e. from mid-July? (4 May 2020)

While RUB is running reduced operations, access to RUB premises is currently only permitted on the basis of individual staff deployment concepts. Students are only permitted to access those premises for exams. Simultaneously, the next phases of reduced operations are being currently devised. They will be activated as soon as the situation permits No definitive statements can be made at present about the exact date.

At this point, it is unclear if such courses will be available as in-person classes. When planning them, you should therefore make sure that your concept can be modified for online classes with little effort.

Are there any hardship provisions for (final) exams? (4 May 2020)

Departing from the regulation in effect until further notice, namely that all oral and written exams are cancelled, online video exams may be conducted in lieu of in-class oral or written exams in hardship cases. Hardship cases include for example: students requiring the certificate in order to take up employment or to submit an application that allows them to continue their academic education (e.g. teacher training). Details can be found in the "Serviceportal".

Since many teachers are now relying on Moodle or RUBcast, will the servers be able to handle the traffic? (4 May 2020)

The systems at the RUB run stable, as server capacities were considerably increased before the start of the semester. Nevertheless, systems may not react as quickly as usual, especially during peak times. As the capacity is continuously being optimised, it is to be expected that the situation will gradually improve from day to day.

Can members of the teaching staff record lectures in lecture halls that are equipped for that purpose without any students or other people being present? (4 May 2020)

You have three options to record events.

You can easily record your lectures at home, for example directly in PowerPoint. The Centre of Academic Didactics has compiled a tutorial and a list of alternative options here: https://el.rub.de/corona/?page_id=304. This remains the preferred option at present.

For members of the teaching staff who don’t have the means to record lectures at home, IT-Services offers a no-contact service, facilitating the recording of lectures in dedicated lecture halls. Due to limited slots, it is necessary to register online in advance: https://www.it-services.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/sl/rubcast/onlinelehre.html.de

If recordings are to be made in specific rooms, for example to demonstrate experiments or use specific technology, members of the teaching staff can have someone else record them, while observing all applicable hygiene regulations.

What changes once reduced operations are implemented? (29 April 2020)

3 May 2020 will be the last day when RUB is running so-called low-encounter basic operations. On 4 May, so-called reduced operations will be implemented. For most RUB members, it will bring about only a few changes. All courses will still be taught online. However, oral exams can be taken in person and experimental research can take place again. Furthermore, researchers who have their own office at RUB may use it as an alternative to the home office. Staff deployment concepts regulate in what way offices shared by two or more people can be used. Therefore, buildings are now open at defined locations and can be entered with an access permit.

A PDF in the "Serviceportal" explains in detail, for example, the differences between the operating phases.

What if students don’t want to participate in courses using Zoom video conferencing? (Last updated: 28 April 2020)

The US company Zoom is certified according to the EU-US Privacy Shield. The specifications of the data protection shield comply principally with the data protection requirements of the European Union. RUB has concluded a contract with the Zoom provider that complies with the requirements of art. 28 GDPR and the requirements of art. 44 ff. GDPR. Additional information is available on the IT.Services information page.

If students don’t wish to attend a course where Zoom is used, they can’t be forced to attend. If video conferencing via Zoom is an integral part of the course, students must switch to other courses, or attend the course in a later semester if they don’t wish to use Zoom. If video conferencing via Zoom is an optional element of the course, students can attend and complete the course without taking part in Zoom conferences.

In order to facilitate accessibility, formats in which web conferencing is used as an additional tool should be preferably used.

Am I allowed to record web conferences? (28 April 2020)

Members of the teaching staff are permitted to make recording, as a general rule. You must ensure that audio and video recordings of students are not made without their consent. If you make your own audio and video recordings in order to share them with students, please let us know in advance, as per the RUB’s ZOOM data protection notice. Recordings can be shared on the RUB’s Opencast platform, for example.

Will the RUB purchase licenses for web conferencing tools? (28 April 2020)

RUB has purchased a campus licence for the Zoom video conferencing tool. The university management has decided to use the tool in teaching, research and administration. It is planned to be used until April 2021, as agreed with the staff councils and the data protection officer. Information on how to obtain a license, FAQs and other tips on how to use ZOOM can be found on the IT.SERVICES website.

As part of its RUBel services, the Centre for Science Didactics also offers brief tutorials on how to use the tool in teaching.

Other conference systems can naturally also be used, for example “DFNconf” to ensure higher privacy standards. For all systems, recordings may only be made with the explicit consent of all parties concerned – i.e. the persons in video and/or audio recordings. Consent must be verifiable. Furthermore, the use of the systems is voluntary.

Are students allowed to record web conferences? (28 April 2020)

No. Recording is not permitted and is punishable under § 33 and § 34 of the NRW Data Protection Act. Lecturers may make a recording with the consent of all participants and share it with the participants. They can use the RUB Opencast platform for this purpose, where the recordings are stored on RUB servers.

Are there any support services in place for members of the teaching staff with family and caring responsibilities? (22 April 2020)

In consultation with the Vice Rector for Teaching and International Affairs, the strategic unit Family-friendly University and the Equal Opportunities Officer have set up a fund for members of the teaching staff who have been particularly affected by the pandemic.

Call for applications (german language)

The advisory services offered by the Family-friendly University and many links to additional information can be found in the "Serviceportal".

Which orientation courses for teaching and studying does the Professional School of Education (PSE) offer in the summer semester 2020? (20 April 2020)

The Professional School of Education, in cooperation with the eLearning team at the Centre of Academic Didactics (ZfW), supports and supervises all members of the teaching staff and student teachers at RUB in the speedy conversion of all in-person classes to online teaching and eLearning. Information on their workshops and courses for the summer semester 2020 is available on the following page: http://www.pse.rub.de/sites/studium/online-lehre.php.

As part of doctoral degree procedures, certain members of the faculty must be able to access the candidates’ research and the reports. How can this requirement be implemented in the current situation? (20 April 2020)

All relevant documents can be viewed in digital form via Sciebo (the NRW university cloud). The dean’s office or the examiners can grant access to those persons who are allowed to view the exams.

In addition, the electronic version stored on Sciebo can be password-protected, for example via Adobe Acrobat, so that the file is read-only, but can’ be modified.

Faculties may alternatively offer other solutions to grant the right to view the work in progress. Delays are possible, because managing such processes from the home office is in many cases quite time-consuming.

Where can I find information on teaching in the summer semester 2020, specifically for my faculty or central research institution? (3 April 2020)

Our faculties and central research institutions have established their own information channels, which are usually indicated on the homepage of the respective institution. A continuously updated overview is available here (German).

What about application deadlines for teacher training (Referendariat)? (27 March 2020)

As an exception, the university will transmit the certificate data digitally directly to the Ministry of School and Education (MSB) for students who have applied for teacher training starting on 1 May 2020 by the deadline of 15 November 2019 and still have to submit their certificates. Please reach out promptly by email to: zuz-med@rub.de. Your email should contain the following information: student/matriculation number, consent to the digital transfer of the final data to the MSB and indication of the district government (Bezirksregierung) to which the application was submitted. Based on this information, the final data will be securely transmitted to the MSB and from there to the responsible district governments.

What alternatives do I have as long as I don’t have any or only limited access to libraries? (24 March 2020)

In addition to the regular online portfolio of the libraries, many publishers currently provide low-cost media online. The university library compiles a list of these offers on the following page (German).

Our Faculty should have held the mandatory evaluation of classes in the summer semester 2020. Will the evaluation take place anyway? (24 March 2020)

Mandatory evaluations are suspended for the summer semester 2020. Online evaluations can still take place using the standard surveys (see www.rub.de/evasys). Administrative Department 1 is currently assessing whether it can provide an evaluation in the course of the semester that is modified for online teaching.

Where can I find information on how to convert my classroom teaching concept to an online-based format in the summer semester 2020? (24 March 2020)

In order to help you tackle this challenge, the Centre of Academic Didactics (ZfW>) has set up a website (German only) providing information on possible scenarios and digital tools as well as service and advice. The ZfW page will be continuously upgraded and updated.

As member of the teaching staff, may I use the university library? (19 March2020)

All information on available and non-available services of the university library is compiled here (German).

What about the deadlines of Bachelor’s/Master’s theses? (19 March 2020)

Until further notice, Bachelor’s/Master’s theses can be submitted as PDF documents to the responsible examination office, with copies being submitted to the examiner and the assessor in order to meet the submission deadlines. Students will receive prompt confirmation of receipt by email from the examination office during office hours.

Students who don’t receive a confirmation of receipt within two working days must resend the original email with its attachment to the examination office and the examiners. The submission of hardcopies is waived until further notice. The digital or self-printed copies graded by the examiners must be kept and submitted to the examination office for safekeeping, together with the assessment.

Can (final) theses get an extension? (19 March 2020)

Depending on library traffic regulations, accessibility of archives, etc., it will be possible to extend the deadlines for the respective theses at a candidate’s request and with the examiner’s consent. For empirical research or research based on experiments that can’t be carried out or continued due to the current situation, an extension can also be granted by the examiners. Any extension of the deadline must be promptly communicated to the examination board by email and confirmed by them.

Will deadlines for term papers be extended? (19 March 2020)

Depending on library traffic regulations, accessibility of archives, etc., it will be possible to extend the deadlines for the respective theses at a candidate’s request and with the examiner’s consent. For empirical research or research based on experiments that can’t be carried out or continued due to the current situation, an extension can also be granted by the examiner. Any extension of the deadline must be promptly communicated to the examination board by email and confirmed by them.

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