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COVID-19: Teaching activities and exams procedure run-through

On this webpage, you will find all necessary information regarding ULB's teaching activities.

Teaching activities

ULB teaching staff are duly invited to follow the Vice-Rector for Teaching's recommendations and adapt, if possible and with the help of the Education Department, their teaching material and provide students with online teaching alternatives.
Useful resources created by CAP can be found on the Staff Portal (FR).

Organisational principles for the first quarter 2020-21

The health constraints (physical distancing, mask-wearing, disinfection, etc.) applicable to face-to-face activities in higher education have been defined in the "Protocol for the resumption of courses in higher education" issued by the office of the Minister for Higher Education, Valérie Glatigny.
This protocol indicates that the so-called yellow level will apply for the academic year 2020-21 until further notice.

This could, of course, change very quickly, either negatively or positively, both before the academic year starts and during the fist quadrimester. We must, therefore, be ready to address these developments.
At ULB, the proposal made to the Academic Council is to organise the academic year with a 50% decrease in the volume of the occupation of the premises dedicated to teaching activities, leaving each faculty to organise itself, bearing in mind the limits of available premises. This will make it possible to adapt to the variations that may occur over the course of the year. It is suggested that preference be given to practical work, seminars, project workshops and laboratory work. When a mask is required in the laboratories, we insist that it be made of cotton (safety in the laboratories). It is therefore essential to combine individual reflection and a collegial approach.

One week will be devoted to welcoming BA1 students (who will have priority access on campus afterwards).
The high probability that groups of students will be put into quarantine at one time or another means that each teacher must anticipate how these students will be able to continue to have access to their classes, through the UV, podcasts or simultaneous face-to-face and distance learning. A procedure is being developed for the management of cases of infection detected in the university community.


Oral and written exams

The two University-sanctioned tools used for the exams will be Microsoft Teams for the oral exams (which many are already familiar with) and a reinforced copy of the Virtual University (the ‘VU 2’ platform) specifically dedicated to written exams. By separating the regular VU, which will continue to host your courses, from the ‘VU 2’, which will only host exams, we can significantly increase the system’s reliability.

Microsoft Teams will also be used to provide live support during the session.

If possible, we encourage you to test your access to Teams and/or to the ‘VU 2’ before the exams start, in order to be ready for the exam session.

Written exams: the ‘VU 2’ platform

The VU is already under heavy load due to regular courses, so we have decided to host exams on a ‘copy’ of the VU platform with increased capacity. On the ‘VU 2’ you will find an (empty) page for each of your courses, where you may create exams (tests or assignments) or import them from the VU. The regular VU remains active, and hosts all your course content; please do NOT use it for exams, as the server might not be able to handle the number of connections.

The new platform dedicated specifically to exams is available at ulb-exams.be, and you can sign in using your usual ULB credentials (netID and password).

The interface is identical to the one you are already familiar with.

We ask that you make sure:
  • that you can sign in to the VU 2 (apart from the URL, ulb-exams.be, the sign-in process is the same as for the VU; support is available from the home page);
  • that you have access to the various course pages required;
  • to notify us of any problem you may encounter, by contacting  uv@ulb.be.
In addition, please make sure to keep your exams hidden while you create them, as students also have access to the platform. However, do not hide the course page itself, so that students may check that they can access it properly.

Oral exams: Teams

Microsoft Teams is the University-sanctioned videoconferencing tool used for remote oral exams. Important note: this application will also be used for support, so please install and test it even if you have no oral exams.

As for the ‘VU 2’, we advise that before midnight on May 10 you:
  • test your access to Office 365 (the software suite that includes Teams) and Teams;
  • make sure you have access to the various course pages (‘teams’ in Teams) that you need;

What will happen if there is a technical issue?

Many of you have expressed concern about the possibility of a technical problem. The ‘VU 2’ exam platform was specifically designed to handle a massive number of connections in a short time, and to minimize risks. However, if you experience difficulties:
  1. if a major problem occurs, whether ULB or another party is at fault (server failure or general internet failure), the teacher in charge of the course will be responsible for taking appropriate measures (e.g. only mark questions that have been completed and automatically saved, reschedule the exam, etc.) in consultation with the head of the examination board;
  2. if a student experiences a temporary network issue, they should not panic: every time they go to the next page during a test, their answers are saved; when they sign in again, they can resume the test where they left it off;
  3. if the problem persists, phone support will be available to students; they will be asked to identify themselves, specify which course they are having trouble with and describe the problem. All calls will be logged. If the problem cannot be resolved, the teacher in charge of the exam will be notified and will make a decision on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the student’s contact with the call centre and their connection logs. We are, of course, aware of how exceptional these circumstances are; as a result, you are encouraged to show leniency, including in the event of a legitimate technical issue.

Important note: for a technical issue to be considered as a valid excuse, the student absolutely must:
  • have successfully tested, before the exam session, their connection to the VU 2 platform—and Teams for oral exams—; their sign-in attempts can be viewed in ULB’s server logs (students have been informed of this);
  • have contacted phone support during the exam (as mentioned in III. above).

Where to find help?

  • For urgent issues, a dedicated space will be available on Teams, entitled ‘Examens - support enseignants’, with one channel for oral exams and one for written exams. You will automatically be added to these spaces, and may use them to contact the CAP quickly. Due to the lockdown, support will not be available by telephone. We also ask that you not contact teaching advisors by e-mail or telephone, as no fewer than 1,800 exams will be held during this session, 6 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Support will be provided by a rotation of people on call, and there is no guarantee that the specific person you are trying to reach will be available at that moment.
  • Students will have a single point of access: the support call centre (which will forward issues to the CAP if necessary). The call centre’s phone number will be provided at the beginning of the exam session and displayed in various places (e.g. the VU 2 home page).

Useful links

On the VU’s support page, the CAP also offers a number of helpful documents such as:
  • an FAQ on the upcoming exam session;
  • a tutorial on conducting oral exams with Teams;
  • tutorials on the ‘Quiz’ and ‘Assignment’ activities;
  • a tutorial on importing content from the VU and the VU 2;
  • a tutorial on hiding/displaying/restricting activities and resources.
Regarding ethics, students have also been sent a charter reminding them of the rules to follow.

Updated on August 7, 2020