These regulations affect practically all parts of ordinary university life. The interpretation and implementation of these regulations at MU’s faculties is in the hands of not only university leadership about also the faculties themselves.
Most classes in the autumn 2020 semester will be taught remotely. Synchronous online classes and asynchronous prerecorded lectures will be held according to official course schedules. “Guidelines issued by the Office for Studies establish exceptional cases in which in-person classes are permitted. This document is a sort of instruction sheet that describes how classes can and cannot be taught. For example, they permit students to be present at school for the following activities: clinical and practical courses; laboratory, experimental, and artistic work involving 15 people at most; one-on-one consultation; examinations for 10 people at most; and visiting libraries and study rooms, if they are open”, explains Michal Bulant, vice-rector for studies and quality.
Masaryk University has prepared to bring teaching online again by acquiring more technology and software licenses to ensure things go smoothly.
Individual faculties though have different opinions on the transition. Some expect that all programmes will smoothly transition into synchronous online teaching mode, that is, classes will take place in real time, attended remotely by students and teachers. Other faculties, however, are logically resisting this change due to nature of the courses taught there.
They include the Faculties of Medicine, Pharmacy, Science, and Sports Studies. The Faculty of Medicine educates students to work in regulated professions, and some classes it offers must be taught in-person. But the faculty is familiar with all the risks that practical teaching entails. All institutes at the faculty are ready and equipped to teach in-person classes and observe strict hygiene rules. The faculty plans to teach at least 50 percent of clinical and practical courses in-person. The Faculty of Medicine regularly publishes current information about studies in the autumn semester for its students at www.med.muni.cz (in Czech only).
According to Zdeňek Bochníček, vice-dean for studies and quality, the Faculty of Science wants to permit in-class instruction for lab courses and other hands-on classes. “Such classes can be continued to be taught in-person given the class size is reduced. Whether a course will be taught in-person or remotely will be decided by the guarantor of the course”, says Bochníček.
Students at the Faculty of Pharmacy can expect to have online synchronous lectures. Practical courses will be held in-person for small groups of 10 to 15 people. “We plan to teach approximately 50 percent of our practical classes at the faculty. The other half will be taught using alternative methods, such as through remote assignments and one-on-one meetings”, explains Tünde Ambrus, vice-dean for studies at the faculty. The faculty is also creating the dean’s guidelines for teachers. This week discussions will be held about how classes will be organized and how first-year students will be taught.
The Faculty of Sports Studies also seeks to ensure that courses meant to improve practical skills that require the use of the faculty’s gyms, weight rooms, and other sporting facilities can be held in-person. Theoretical classes will he held synchronously online. The Faculty of Sports Studies has entered information for its students in IS and recommends students regularly follow the websites www.fsps.muni.cz and here, which will be regularly updated.
In terms of transitioning to online instruction, defining what exactly constitutes a practical class is also important for the Faculties of Arts and Education.
“We have had problems with online lessons in some courses. For example, foreign-language courses that require practice speaking must be held in-person. We still want to define the types of classes that cannot be taught remotely”, explains Josef Šaur, vice-dean for studies at the Faculty of Arts.
The primary source of up-to-date information for Faculty of Arts students is the website www.phil.muni.cz.
The Faculty of Education is preparing a videoconference for all first-year students this week that will be led by faculty heads. These new students will have the opportunity to ask questions about their studies. The faculty dean, vice-deans for studies, and the head of the office for studies will introduce themselves to incoming students and answer questions about the start of the semester. The faculty has already set up cameras for online teaching in all larger classrooms and is ready to provide technical support to all academic units as needed. The faculty considers practical courses to be those that result in the mastering of specific skills, in particular courses in which such skills are practiced and seminars that reflect on internship experiences.
Masaryk University’s other faculties are ready to bring practically all classes online.
The Faculty of Law, according to vice-dean for master’s studies, Jana Jurníková, is ready to start teaching online. “Both sides, that is, students and teachers, have the information they need. We are also already prepared to hold exams online at the end of the semester. But we would welcome it if the rules were eased for first-year students. At least for those in the five-year master’s programme. So that they can see the building, their teachers, their classmates”, says Jurníková.
The Faculty of Law’s website includes a page that contains essential information about studies in the autumn semester: www.law.muni.cz. It provides information about the faculty and links to information about university-wide measures implemented by the rector. The faculty dean has also just issued new instructions for teaching in the autumn semester (in Czech only).
The dean of the Faculty of Economics and Administration, Antonín Slaný, has already confirmed via social media that classes will be held exclusively online for everyone, that exams will most likely also be administered remotely, and that the faculty building will be open for office hours and for visiting the library, depending on the epidemiological situation. “One-third of our students come from abroad. To ensure equal access to education for all our students, we must therefore transition to online teaching, for which we will use all possible channels”, adds Martin Kvizda, the faculty’s vice-dean for studies.
The Faculty of Economics and Administration’s coronavirus information webpage is www.econ.muni.cz. The faculty is currently preparing a special platform for first-year students to provide them with the extra information they need this semester.
Students and teachers at the Faculty of Social Studies have already been informed that classes will be held synchronously online and have received schedules. “For first-year students we are preparing a package of support services that includes one-on-one consultation, which can be offered in-person or online, video instructions for working with the Information System, and a webpage specifically for first-year students”, adds Adéla Souralová, the faculty’s vice-dean for studies.
Up-to-date information about coronavirus and the Faculty of Social Studies can be found at www.fss.muni.cz.
The Faculty of Informatics is also ready to begin teaching online. The faculty will ensure that workloads are not overwhelming and that students have sufficient access to their teachers, primarily with the help of modern digital tools, so that students are not forced to learn everything by themselves through self-study.
The Faculty of Informatics provides up-to-date information at www.fi.muni.cz.