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Information for Teaching Staff



Dear Teaching staff!

In a joint effort, the University of Bonn's Rectorate, faculties and lecturers are currently preparing teaching alternatives that enable us to help contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. To protect our University member, especially high-risk groups, we are working hard to put into place the necessary conditions for digitally supported teaching in the summer semester 2020, and to provide you with advice and concrete support offers.

A few weeks ago, we set up a task force for teaching involving all faculties to address the new challenges university-wide. Our goal is to provide assistance regarding questions around implementing teaching and examination processes and to clarify how things will progress in the coming weeks. We ask for your understanding that there are not always immediate answers and solutions to the numerous questions and challenges that the current situation is posing. We are working together to find solutions as soon as possible and would like to thank you for your help and patience!

Below, please find answers to the most pressing questions. Please check back for regular updates.

Best regards,
Prof. Dr. Karin Holm-Müller
Vice Rector for Teaching and Studies

Please note the details on the transition to safe operations mode available in the general corona information section!

(Updated 07/03) Examinations

For examinations that for objective reasons cannot be carried out online, conditions were created to be able to carry out examinations in person and on the University of Bonn's premises. The requirements for infection control and occupational safety must be observed. The University management has informed faculties about the modalities and will provide students with a handbook on the correct behavior during examinations (also via the examination offices). Time and place of examinations will be allocated to departments and subjects via the central room allocation system, where possible according to their requests. The exams are then considered approved. The examination dates as well as the respective, possibly altered, examination method should be announced to the candidates electronically at least two weeks prior to the examination date. As a general rule, the compulsory registration for examinations (§ 64 Paragraph 3 HG) laid down in the examination regulations is not applicable to both first attempts and repeat attempts. It is also possible to withdraw from an examination attempt without giving reasons, as well as to cancel an examination until the submission of a written examination or up to the end of an oral examination. Further information can be found in the Rectorate's Circular 35/2020 as well as the Rectorate's Decision of May 7 and the first decision amending the Rectorate's Decision of May 7 and the handbook for examiners.

(New 06/26) Lecture period winter semester 2020/2021

The Ministry of Culture and Science of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia stipulates the following dates for the winter semester 2020/2021: The lecture period starts on October 26, 2020. Only for first-semester students of bachelor’s degree programs and church degree or state examination programs, the start of the lecture period has been postponed to November 02, 2020. The lecture period for all students ends on February 12, 2021.

(Updated 05/20) Exams

Steps are currently being taken to allow examinations which cannot be held online for objective reasons to be held on-site at University facilities. These will commence after the Pentecost holiday. The first on-site exams to be held are to be rescheduled exams originally scheduled for the end of winter semester 2019/2020. The anti-infection and occupational health & safety requirements will continue to apply for any written examinations for the summer semester of 2020 which have to be conducted on-site for objective reasons. The Rectorate will inform the faculties regarding the mandatory modalities and will provide an information sheet to students (distributed in part by the examination offices) on proper conduct in the exam setting.

Exam takers will be given a minimum two weeks’ advance notice in electronic form of the exam dates and of any formal changes to specific exams. The mandatory exam registration requirement provided for in the examination regulations (§ 61 paragraph 3 of the Higher Education Act [HG]) is categorically disapplied for both initial and repeat exam-taking attempts. It is furthermore allowed to withdraw from an exam without explanation and to stop taking an exam up until the point of submission of a written examination or completion of an oral examination. The submission deadlines for assignment papers and term papers have been extended in many cases due to library closures. Please contact your examination office or your advisor for information in this regard.

(Updated 20/05) Resuming teaching

With the approval of the state’s universities, the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia ordered that all teaching activities, including lectures, seminars and lab courses, were temporarily suspended until April 19, 2020 and that the summer semester of 2020 started in “online mode” on April 20. The end date of the lecture period is still July 17, 2020. The faculties and the Rectorate have mutually agreed to use the week of Pentecost (June 2-5, 2020), traditionally reserved for field trips and lab courses, as additional time for teaching. Whether lab courses can be conducted on-site starting June 2, 2020 (which are an exception approved by the Rectorate) depends on whether a hygiene and protection plan has been prepared for the lab course and implemented by the date in question. The maximum permissible group size is 20 participants per the general order issued by the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of North Rhine-Westphalia (MAGS).

Teaching goes online

Where possible, all courses will start online initially as those requiring physical attendance cannot be held until further notice. Resuming of the teaching program will, at least at the start of the lecture period, only be possible digitally.

We therefore ask you to meet your teaching obligations with digital formats. Courses should only be postponed to the winter semester in the most exceptional cases, e.g. where skills cannot be imparted without physical presence of the students. To support you in preparing for and carrying out of digital teaching, the eCampus team has compiled tips and instructions for you.

In addition, starting Friday April 3, 2020, webinars on eCampus basics are offered Monday to Friday between 10:00 and 11:00 am CEST. These webinars are aimed at individuals with no prior experience in using eCampus who would like to inform themselves about the learning platform and its many possibilities of use. You can register via eCampus.

We are currently working on extending the existing support for eCampus and on also tailoring it more specifically to individual subjects. For the latest developments, please refer to eCampus and the coronavirus information on the University website.

Teaching material made available in digital format

All courses registered on BASIS previously are currently being automatically linked with eCampus. You will receive an email notification once this has been done. This allows you to easily contact your students via email, to provide documents and to set up forums, etc. You can also upload PowerPoint slides with audio commentary. We would like to particularly encourage first-time users of eCampus to make use of the eCampus support.

Please distribute further information on your courses as early as possible in the electronic course catalogue BASIS and on other relevant websites.

Uploading of teaching material (e.g. reading material, study questions, recordings) is already possible on eCampus before the new start of the semester. However, all material uploaded before this date should be accessible to each student individually so that students can decide when to study at their own time.

Even when regular teaching (in other words, teaching where physical attendance is required) is resumed again during the summer semester, information and material which is required for passing exams will continue to be made available digitally–also out of consideration for students who may not be able to physically attend courses at the time. This semester, it will be at your own discretion to decide whether you eventually return to teaching where physical attendance is required.

Classes live online

To facilitate live classes online, the University of Bonn has purchased a great number of Zoom licenses which will complement already established services (Adobe Connect and DFNconf). These allow for holding interactive classes also in bigger groups. Assistance in using Zoom for teaching purposes is available at [Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.]. Apart from streaming live classes, you can upload material to eCampus (see above) and further discuss these in supported forums, chats or during online consultation hours. On the pages of eCampus, you can find relevant instructions and tips.

Apart from the information on the HRZ and eCampus websites, the eCampus team is already set to provide all teaching staff with support regarding individual questions. Additional personnel is already being trained for this. Apart from the technical support, you may direct specific didactic questions on digital teaching to the Bonner Zentrum für Hochschullehre (BZH).

Respecting copyright

In light of recent events, the University and State Library Bonn (ULB) would like to point out the effective copyright law: If you would already like to prepare literature for the semester, § 60a of the Copyright Act (UrhG) applies, meaning that approximately 15 percent of a bigger piece (no upper limit) of literature, complete small pieces (25 pages maximum), pieces that are out of print and individual essays may be provided via eCampus. Many publishers and providers have extended access to their electronic offers, often even for free. The ULB has compiled information on this. Shortly, the ULB will be offering a scanning service on their website, aimed at researchers and students (starting with Master thesis level).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

(Updated 05/20) My course requires on-site attendance. What can I do?

The University and the faculties are obliged to ensure teaching that is compliant with the provisions of the degree programs. Teachers are therefore obliged to offer their courses online in the summer semester and, where possible, find alternative teaching formats for e.g. lectures, seminars and tutorials that enable teaching without on-site attendance.

We do realize, of course, that practical teaching formats such as field trips, greenhouse courses and lab courses pose a problem. In these cases, please consider if the respective learning objectives could also be achieved using other teaching formats. If practical courses must be canceled or postponed until the winter semester, students must be offered alternative courses so that they can complete a sufficient quantity of course work in the summer semester. One possibility would be to antedate modules planned for the winter semester that can be held online. Teachers must consider which modules can be antedated from the winter semester or from higher semesters to compensate for canceled or postponed modules.

Whether internships (as an exception approved by the rectorate) can be carried out on site from 02 June 2020 depends on whether a hygiene and protection concept for the internship approved and implemented by the rectorate exists at that time. According to the general decree of the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs (MAGS), the group size is limited to 20 participants.

How can I transition to digital teaching in this semester?

The central platform for digital teaching and learning at the University of Bonn is eCampus. All courses listed in the digital course catalog BASIS have been automatically linked to the eCampus platform. On eCampus, you can contact your students, upload the requirements for successful course completion and provide materials and course units. The platform also provides extensive information and training options on digital teaching tools.

I have little experience with eCampus. How can I best approach this?

The eCampus team has already made extensive information on how to use the platform available online. In addition, regularly held webinars and trainings offer an initial overview of how to use the platform. The faculties offer specific support for their respective disciplines (e.g. for tutors). Please contact the respective degree program managers.

I am faced with planning and carrying out an online course for the first time. Where do I start? What do I need to keep in mind and where can I get some inspiration?

The Bonn Center for Higher Education (BZH) is a competent contact for all questions on designing courses. Ms. Siemens and Ms. Kehler will be happy to support you at [Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.]. Since April 9, 2020 the BZH has also been offering an eCampus course on basic didactics in online teaching, which is open to all University members. In addition, we highly recommend exchanging your digital teaching experiences with colleagues inside and outside the University.

Do I need to record online sessions and provide recordings online?

No, there is no obligation to do so. Should on-site teaching be resumed at some point during the semester, you will, however, need to make sure to provide sufficient digital material for students to individually work on course contents and pass the final examination even though they may–for whatever reason–not be able to participate in on-site courses. This does not automatically imply that you must record digital sessions.

Do I need to stick to the types of course work listed in the module guide or, respectively, the examination regulations or may I introduce types of course work that are more feasible in the current situation?

Introducing alternative forms of course work is generally possible. Please make sure to discuss such changes with the degree program coordinator in advance. All such changes must be approved by the examination board. It is imperative that the qualification objectives defined for the respective module are also achieved with the alternative forms of course work. Section 9.1 has provided all dean's offices with an extensive handout on the topic of examinations. The handout discusses all possible types of examination. Please make sure to involve the examination board when changing types of examination.

Am I obliged to offer digital teaching?

At this point, it is impossible to predict when the University will be able to resume on-site teaching. Therefore, offering digital courses is currently inevitable. These digital courses cannot and do not always need to be perfect at this point. The current situation is also a great chance for you to test new formats with your students.

How does the lack of on-site teaching affect my teaching load?

When counting time spent for preparing, managing and digitally carrying out courses as teaching hours, please observe the applicable provisions in the LVV (here: Section 4 Para. 6). In light of the exceptional circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic, teaching hours can be counted as originally planned for on-site teaching.

I cannot carry out my courses this semester. Does this mean that I will need to offer more course units per week in the next semester?

As a rule, all courses should be carried out in the semester for which they were scheduled. Even in lab courses, some learning goals can be achieved using online material. If there is no way to carry out a course, the respective teaching load can be postponed to the next semester in accordance with Section 3 Para. 8 LVV (“Deputatskonten”). Such postponement of courses must be approved by the dean.

I have hired several assistants for support with my lab course. What happens to their work contracts if the lab course cannot be held in the planned time period?

In these cases, you have several options:
a)    You can consult with Human Resources whether to draft a cancellation/amendment agreement, which would allow you to work with the hired assistants at/until a later point in the semester. Please note that you can only work with your assistants during the time period agreed in their work contract.
b)    Another option could be assigning new tasks to your assistants, e.g. to support you with digital teaching.

What are the consequences for students who cannot participate in digital teaching formats for technical or other reasons?

Students who cannot participate in online courses may apply for a semester on leave. When on leave, students cannot participate in examinations. Technical requirements for participating in digital teaching formats should be as low as possible so that the highest possible number of students can make use of digital offers.

How can I find out if my computer is fit for using Zoom?

Please find all information on system requirements at ZOOM-Website.

Can you offer tutoring in this semester?

Tutoring can be offered starting April 20, 2020. Tutors will be able to invite students via Zoom. You can also work with tutors for support in implementing digital teaching formats.

Can examinations that were canceled in the winter semester due to the coronavirus be held in the summer semester?

Holding examinations that were canceled in the winter semester will be generally possible. However, this only applies to students who were already registered for the examination in the winter semester. For further information, please contact the responsible examination board.

How can I review written examinations with my students if they do not wish to discuss them via phone or Zoom?

According to the examination regulations, the examination board is in charge of setting a date and place for examination reviews. Providing examination corrections via scan/email is only possible in duly justified exceptional cases. 

Will online courses be held during the week of Pentecost?

Due to the postponement of the lecture period and the limitations to conducting field trips, the University management has decided to also allow teaching during the week of Pentecost, which is usually reserved for field trips. This is to help you cover all planned content despite the delayed start of the lecture period.


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