Monthly Archives: March 2020

Laura Bailey

Laura Bailey appears on new BBC panel show ‘Lost in Translation’

Dr Laura Bailey, Lecturer in the Department of English Language and Linguistics, will appear on new BBC Radio 2 comedy panel show ‘Lost in Translation’. The pilot is being broadcast on Saturday 28 March at 21.30, where she will provide insights into how language can not only bring us together, but also create national outcry; and that though some words may be a term of endearment in some cultures, they can be a damning insult in others. From untranslatable words to seemingly nonsensical idioms to some of the greatest insults ever created, this show will peel back the layers to reveal the secret quirks of communication.

This is a brand-new comedy panel show is hosted by Tom Allen (The Apprentice – You’re Fired) and his celebrity guests James May (Top Gear), Stacey Solomon (Loose Women), Daliso Chaponda (QI), Russell Kane (Live at the Apollo) Sophie Duker and Rhys James (Mock the Week).

Laptop, cup of tea, open book and a fruite pastry all on a made bed, with a nightstand next to it.

How to self-isolate

Self-isolating and social distancing means non-essential contact with other people. To achieve this, you need to work at home wherever possible, avoid all unnecessary travel and avoid public gatherings.

Self-isolating and social distancing can feel lonely and lead to anxiety, depression and make you feel demotivated. So we have put together some tips for you on how to make the most of the situation.

Write a to-do list

You will find a to-do list keeps you on-track and motivated. Also it’s an amazing feeling when you tick off things on the list. The best thing to do is to write the list the day before or first thing in the morning.

Take regular breaks

Regardless of your workload, please remember to take regular breaks especially to have lunch or dinner. This is vital to keep you refreshed and your energy levels up.

Stay in touch

You might not be able to physically meet people but you can stay in touch thanks to the wonders of technology. Skype, Zoom and Facetime friends and family and chat via Whatsapp with fellow staff. Remember that plenty of support is also available to you – you can talk to your line manager, get support from our Occupational Health team, or access expert help with both workplace and personal issues via our Employee Assistance Programme.

Eat healthily

This might be a bit of an ask considering what is going on in the shops but you can still eat healthily by using staple ingredients such a fruit, veg, milk, rice and potatoes. You can look up recipes online.

Exercise

While you are at home, it is essential to keep fit and you can do this by following exercises on YouTube or use fitness DVDs.

Binge on Netflix and box sets

What better way to end the day than by binging on a box set or watching a TV series or film on Netflix? The platform has launched a new facility called Netflix Party where you can chat with your friends while watching the same film or TV show at the same time.

Overall, stay safe and make the most of this time. And remember that you are not alone.

How to study remotely during self isolation

Not having access to your tutors, study areas and library can be a big shock to the system. Plus having to adapt to a new working environment which is doubling up as a live/study space with housemates can be problematic. We have put together some tips that help you to study effectively remotely.

Get into a routine and stick to it

Work out when you are most productive – are you a morning bird, afternoon person or are you a night owl?

Find your perfect spot

As draconian as it sounds, we are much more productive when sitting at a desk, so try and study there. If you are fortunate to have access to a quiet lounge or kitchen space then make use of that.

Get rid of all your distractions and that means your phone

The phone is by far the biggest time killer. I would advise that you turn off all your settings so you are not disturbed. If you find your phone too much of a temptation then just either switch it off or leave it in another room.

Create a study schedule

Set specific times for studying and for breaks. Start out doing periods of 30 minutes to study and five minutes for a break. When you know you have a break coming up, you will find it easier to focus on your studying. As you get used to this schedule, increase the study times to 45 and then 60 minutes. You could also try the Pomodoro technique. 25 minute intervals of work followed by a break.

Meditation

Recent studies show that meditating before you study can improve your reading comprehension, memory, concentration, stress and anxiety.There are some great apps that help you to meditate such as Headspace.

Starting in early April, Student Support and Wellbeing and the Student Learning Advisory Centre are running free online meditation sessions each week via zoom. The sessions are 40 minutes long and there is a focus on dealing with anxiety and strategies for remaining focused.

Noisy housemates

If you are lucky to have noise cancelling headphones, these can work like a dream. Or another idea is to work out when your house is the most noisy and quiet and organise your working hours around those times. If neither of these work then you might have to call a house meeting.

Online study resources to help you when self isolating

Now the University has moved to remote teaching across all campuses (with the exception of the Tonbridge Centre) and the government telling us to stay home, that means remote studying and lots of it.

Studying is stressful at the best of times but when you cannot attend lectures or physically access a library that can make it worse. The University are determined to support you through this period and we have put together a guide on the online resources we have available to help you through your studies.

Your academic school will give you additional programme and module-specific information. So please check with them.

Moodle

Moodle is the Virtual Learning Environment for the University of Kent. This is where you will find your course materials such as handouts, lecture notes and PowerPoint presentations. Your tutors may use Moodle in more interactive ways such as discussion forums, chat rooms, quizzes and assignment drop-boxes. You can also submit your assignments here.

KentPlayer

KentPlayer can also be used to ‘live stream’ lectures, so you can access it from any device that is web-enabled. Your module convenor will let you know how and when they will be using KentPlayer to deliver lectures. Tutors can record their lectures and upload them to this platforms for you watch via Moodle.

Blackboard Ally

Just know as Blackboard, this platform gives you access to alternative versions of files and resources in Moodle. For example you could have your lecture slides read aloud by choosing the mp3 output option.

Library

Although the library is closed they have an abundance of online material that can help you with your studies. You are more than welcome to email them at helpdesk@kent.ac.uk or you can call the staff at Templeman on 01227 824999 or Drill Hall at 01634 88 3278. Alternatively you can chat to them on our web pages

If you need in-depth subject support from your liaison librarian, please email helpdesk@kent.ac.uk for Templeman and dhl-librarians@gre.ac.uk for Drill Hall.
There is also a digital library services which can connect you with the resources you need, wherever you are, such as e-books, e-journals, databases and newspapers. There is detailed guidance on how to do this on the IS library resources web pages.

As well as the resources in your Digital Library a number of suppliers of academic resources have made content freely available to support remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Microsoft Teams

You can also use Teams which is an online space where you can chat to fellow students, share files, attend seminars, take part in meetings and work collaboratively. It gives you online access from anywhere, on any device: No need to use the VPN.

Microsoft Teams for Students Has Launched

The Library and Information Services have introduced Microsoft Teams for students as part of the Office 365 package. Microsoft Teams is an online space where you can chat to fellow students, share files, attend seminars, take part in meetings and work collaboratively.

Even better, it gives you online access from anywhere, on any device, so no need to use the VPN. Perfect during this COIVD 19 lockdown as it will allow you to carry on working on your group projects and share ideas with classmates.

The benefits of Microsoft Teams are below:

Desktop and mobile apps available

To get all the benefits of Teams, we recommend downloading the app onto your devices. If you have the app you can even share your screen with support staff, who can use it to offer remote help with IT issues.

Text and video chat

This is perfect for virtual group work, quick discussions with lecturers or a chat with a fellow student to check in and say hi. These tools can be used with anyone inside or outside of the University and not just within your module-based team.

Channels

Teams uses channels to separate content. Channels are set up by the Team owner (your convenor) and within each channel you can store files, hold virtual meetings and have ‘threaded’ conversations. This is similar to other services like Slack or Discord.

File sharing and collaboration

Microsoft Office files can be shared in channels or in chat and can be live-edited by multiple people at once. You can do this within Teams, without having to open other web apps or desktop apps. You can also download files but once you do this it won’t update if further changes are made within Teams.

A Team space has been set up for every module and if your module convenor plans to use it for online teaching, they’ll be in touch with you.

Access Teams by clicking on this link.

Enter your login details:

Username: username@kent.ac.uk (example: abc1@kent.ac.uk)
Password: your Kent IT account password

Choose the Teams app and you’re ready to go!

To download the Desktop app, use the download icon on the bottom left within the web app. On your mobile device, search ‘Microsoft Teams’ on your App / Play store.

Guide to online teaching and learning  

As we all adjust to working off-campus, a new guide has been published to help academic colleagues deliver teaching and assessments online. 

The Online teaching and learning: guidance for staff includes: 

  • A checklist for module convenors to complete 
  • Tips on using Moodle to deliver your teaching 
  • Using Office 365 Microsoft Teams to interact online with your students 
  • Accessing our Library’s digital resources 
  • Ensuring your online teaching and assessments are accessible to all 
  • What technology you will need  

The guide also links to University guidance on working and studying from home/off-campus,and support available for online learning, teaching and assessment. 

The guide has been compiled by colleagues in Information Services and our Unit for the Enhancement of Learning. 

Find out more by clicking on the guide now. 

Apple Macbook Pro, iPad and iPhone and glasses on table

Top 10 tips for working remotely

CIPD, the professional body for human resources and people development, has put together a series of top tips to help you and your teams get the most out of homeworking. They include top 10 tips for working remotely.

Don’t forget to check out our own Information Services guide to working at home – everything you need on setting up your IT plus key information on data security, redirecting phones and health and wellbeing.

1. Set up a designated workspace. Separate space for yourself to work in, somewhere you can focus on tasks without being distracted and set up with everything you need for a normal working day – computer, phone, stationery, papers etc.

2. Make sure you have all the tech you need. This includes a reliable and secure internet connection, any necessary files, hardware and software, remote access to your company network and, importantly, knowledge of how to get IT support.

3. Get dressed. Changing into working clothes will help you mentally switch to productive work mode. It will also help you distinguish between ‘homeworking’ and ‘home life’.

4. Write a daily to-do list. Set out a list of realistic, achievable tasks to keep you focused.

5. Know when to step away from your desk. Be clear about when your working day begins and ends and take breaks to refresh. It’s easy to let yourself be ‘always on’ when your home and office are the same place. When work is over, be sure you switch off to avoid burnout. Think about having ‘core hours ’ which people you work with are around for.

6. Stay in conversation. Contribute regularly to team chats/group emails so you don’t drop off the radar. Ask about what people are working on and share what’s on your plate. Being physically separated means you miss the ‘water-cooler moments’ so this is a means to keep informed.

7. Foster relationships. Make time for non-work chats as you would in the workplace and use video calling to maintain face-to-face contact.

8. Be clear in your communication. Speaking in person gives you visual and audio cues that help you communicate. Conversing remotely removes a lot of that extra information so make your communications extra clear and concise.

9. Ask for support when needed. Speak out when you need assistance, further training or support. Your manager, colleagues and you are part of a team and should be supporting each other, especially remotely.

10. Make remote working work for you. Change where you sit, put on music, whatever helps you work. And enjoy the perks – no commute or uncomfortable shoes, and all your home comforts!

For more information and resources, see the CIPD webpages.

Tree structure internet networks

Coronavirus – key University and other links 

Action to combat Covid-19 is a fast-evolving situation and it is important to keep up-to-date with the latest information and advice. 

Below are some useful links for you to find out more support available at the University and our latest position, as well as key links for latest coronavirus information, health advice and higher education queries. 

University contacts 

For health and wellbeing, you can get support from our Occupational Health team, or access our new Employee Assistance Programme for help with both workplace and personal issues.  

To find more how the University is responding to Covid-19you can check our coronavirus website (which includes a regularly updated list of staff FAQs) or, if your query isn’t answered here,email the Coronavirus Response Group. 

Health advice 

The NHS Online service that can tell if you need medical help and advice. Use this service if you think you might have coronavirus; if you have been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus; or you have been in close contact with someone with coronavirus. Use th111 onlineweblinkor call 111 if you need to speak to someone. Don’t go to a hospital, GP surgery or pharmacy. 

Staff should contact the Wellbeing Team if they are asked to be tested or self-isolate by NHS 111 or a medical professional.  

Government updates 

Latest Government advice and guidance is available on the gov.uk website. You can also check the NHS website for latest health advice. You may also find media outlets such as the BBC useful sources of information. 

There is a daily update from the Prime Minister every evening. 

Higher education information 

The Department for Education can help with queries relating to higher education staff, students and parents with Covid-19 in relation to education. Phone: 0800 046 8687
(opening hours: 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday) or email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk 

The Home Office can advise on immigration queries related to coronavirusfor international higher education staff and students. Phone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, free of charge) or email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk 

 

stay connected

How to stay connected while working remotely  

Do you miss the office camaraderie? With many of us now working from home, you may be feeling a bit lost without your colleagues near, or the chitter-chatter around you. But have no fear! With the use of Microsoft Teams, Skype or other virtual devices, there’s plenty of ways for you to stay connected. 

As well as conference calls, here’s a few suggestions on what you and your colleagues can do to stay virtually connected: 

Get set up

Making sure your PC or laptop is ready for home working is crucial for keeping in touch. Our amazing colleagues in Information Services have provided this great guide to working from home, to show you how. It also includes crucial information from other professional service colleagues on data security, redirecting you phone and looking after your health and wellbeing.

Weekly virtual coffee 

Schedule a time every week for you and your team to catchup over coffee via video conference. This can be different from your regular meetings – you can put the kettle on and chat about other things than your work, as you would normally in the office. This works for virtual lunch too!  

Share photos and videos 

A good way to bond with your colleagues is sharing (appropriate) photos or videos with them. Whether that’s your garden, your pets or even your work station, it’s a great way to create that personal touch you may have lost by working from home. Set aside a time in the day or week where you can share these photos and connect with other.

Please use #UniKentHomeWorking and share your home set up with us. Be careful with privacy though – please don’t include clues in the photos as to your location or the names of your family members. You wouldn’t want to have bank details lying around either!

Read all about staying protected, while working remotely. 

Morning status updates  

Start getting into a routine of having virtual updates with your team. A daily or weekly morning update via video conference is a great way to communicate important information and to share what work has or needs to be done. It’s also a good practice for setting people up for the day.   

Team activities 

Activities can be as simple as attending a webinar or starting a book or cooking club together. For a good sense of wellbeing, why not participate in weekly meditation or yoga as a groupIt’s a great way to stay connected, without it always being about work.    

Tell us what you think 

How are you keeping in touch with your colleagues? Share your thoughts and ideas on how to stay connected with colleagues by sending them to stories@kent.ac.uk 

Supporting your health and wellbeing

Staff are the University’s most valuable asset and your health and wellbeing is extremely important. 

There are many ways that colleagues, even when they are not working on campus, can access support and advice as and when they need it. These include a new Employee Assistance Programme specifically for Kent employees, as well as access to specialist advisers across the University. 

Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) 

This new scheme offers University staff easy access to expert help with both workplace and personal issues. Whether you have questions on issues from debt and landlords, to nutrition and stress, our new EAP website should have the answers. To log-in, use the username: uokent and the password: university. 

Alternatively, you can phone the providers, Care first/Sodexho, free of charge on 0808 168 2143 and get free and confidential advice from an information specialist or accredited counsellor. 

Occupational Health support 

As well as EAP, the University has a dedicated Occupational Health team whose remit is to: 

  • prevent work-related ill health 
  • facilitate rehabilitation and return to work following periods of illness or injury 
  • promote physical and mental health and wellbeing at work. 

Your line manager can refer you to Occupational Health or you can opt for self-referral. Find out more on the Occupational Health webpageor the OH team’s Health and Wellbeing webpages.  

At the present time, it’s best to contact the OH team via email: occupationalhealth@kent.ac.uk 

Talking to your line manager 

Don’t forget that your line manager can also support you on health and wellbeing issues – either directly or pointing you to the right colleague/place to ensure you get the support you need. 

If you are able, speak to your line manager first. There may be a simple solution and they are not going to know you have a problem unless you discuss it with them. 

Line Managers can also take advantage of advice available from the EAP.  

HR contacts 

Our HR department is responsible for a number of staff wellbeing policies – from special leave to flexible working.  

The Employee Relations and Business Partnering Team provide line managers and other colleagues with specialist, professional advice, guidance and policy implementation on those policies, amongst others.  

Each area of the University has a specific Business Partner and Employee Relations Adviser – you can find out who yours is on the HR websiteTo make initial contact with the general ERBP team, email ERBP@kent.ac.uk. This address is monitored 09.00 to 17.00, Monday to Friday and using it will enable us to deal with your query as quickly as possible.  

Colleagues in Estates and Commercial Services have their own dedicated HR teams who can advise as necessary.