The shape of higher education timetables for the autumn is starting to emerge, giving students an idea of what a hybrid approach to teaching and learning will mean, as public health concerns impose restrictions on face-to-face classes.
After months of lockdown forced by the pandemic, there will be relief that campuses are reopening, but challenges too as everyone tries to adapt to the new way of doing things.
The 2019/20 year ended with an unexpected turn in the road in March and a steep and bumpy learning curve ahead for all.
In June, when it was all over, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) surveyed members about their experiences of the overnight switch to distance classes, and subsequently, end-of-year assessments.
Unsurprisingly, a sense of this being "not what we signed up for" came through in many answers, but also a resilience. Despite being thrown in at the deep end, many talked about experiencing a "get to safety" feeling.
Academic staff were just as unprepared, and only a little over half (52pc) of students believed the online learning content was of good quality.
Disconnection was a common theme, with four in five (80pc) students reporting issues with motivation. Almost one in three had internet connectivity problems and about the same number felt their college didn't provide them with effective and timely communication.
But USI vice-president for academic affairs Kevin McStravock also told a recent webinar of things that worked well for students, including being able to do exams from home rather than going into an exam hall.
The webinar was organised by the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and its Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning Project (EDTL), a three-year initiative funded by the Higher Education Authority. The EDTL was up and running anyway but its work has come centre stage, now refocused to support a more blended approach to teaching and learning in universities this autumn.
Project manager Dr Sharon Flynn, formerly assistant director at the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at NUI Galway, told the webinar that "one year into the project everything changed". She joked that some people had even accused her of planting the virus in order to attain the project's goals.
She said what happened in March forced an emergency response, nobody had time to plan and a lot of the attention was given to tools and technology, rather than pedagogy, the art and science of teaching. Lots of lessons have been learned since, including from the feedback in the USI survey. Kevin McStravock is also member of the EDTL Steering Group.
Hundreds tuned in to that IUA/EDTL webinar and over the summer, the project is laying foundations for more effective remote teaching when colleges open, to guide lecturers, course by course, module by module, on the nitty-gritty of what works well for students, and what doesn't.
"It will be pedagogy first," said Dr Flynn.