Continuity of Instruction

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

From:
S. Jack Hu, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Rahul Shrivastav, Vice President for Instruction

To:
Faculty and Graduate Teaching Assistants

 

Dear Colleagues,

As noted in the latest memo from the University System of Georgia (see here), the remainder of the spring 2020 semester will need to be completed remotely. Classes will remain suspended through March 29, 2020 to allow faculty time to transition their courses to an online format. When classes resume on March 30, 2020, they will need to be delivered remotely for the duration of the semester. We anticipate completing the semester as originally scheduled, on May 6, 2020.

While remote instruction will not be the same as your regular face-to-face classes, the current situation requiring social distancing is essential for us to minimize the impact of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. We appreciate your flexibility and support during these uncertain times. Please know that we have significant resources and tools to help you successfully transition to online learning on such short notice.

As a reminder, SACSCOC’s credit hour requirements allow a mix of classroom time and out-of-class student work to meet credit hour expectations for student coursework. You, as faculty, have significant discretion to modify your course and pedagogy to ensure that the original learning objectives of your classes are met despite this disruption to the academic calendar.

Please visit our Teaching and Learning Continuity website, which is frequently being updated with new information. This website can provide several tips and tools to help you move your classes to an online format.

We also have developed an online course to help you make this transition. This course is available on e-Learning Commons (eLC). All faculty, staff, and teaching assistants who are instructors of record for the spring semester already have access to this course, and it will show up when you log in to the eLC platform by clicking here. If you don’t have access to this course but would like to use it, please contact the Center for Teaching and Learning here. If you need additional help or a one-on-one consultation to help you move your courses online, please contact the Center for Teaching and Learning here.

We are learning that a significant challenge in moving instruction online is internet speed/bandwidth. Some students may not have access to high-speed internet, or the sheer volume of live lectures may limit the quality of the webcast. For this reason, please consider using “asynchronous” or pre-recorded video whenever possible. Asynchronous video can be prepared within Kaltura, Zoom, or Blackboard Collaborate, or simply done through a narrated PowerPoint presentation uploaded to the Kaltura media server. Instructions for each of these are available on the Teaching and Learning Continuity website, and in the above mentioned eLC course. Please also find time to test the video quality of your lectures.

We encourage you to contact your students now to let them know what to expect when your course resumes on March 30. You may need to adjust your syllabus, assignments, test dates, etc., and it will help students to know your general plan for the rest of the semester. As most students have several questions and concerns, please consider holding remote office hours during this two-week period, but remember that you may not require them to meet virtually or assign homework, tests, etc. until classes formally resume on March 30. Students with health issues, including those registered with the Disability Resource Center, may face additional challenges when instruction moves online. Your flexibility and willingness to make the necessary accommodations will be essential for these students to succeed in these classes. For additional information about accommodations and support, please contact the Disability Resource Center.

We also need to find creative solutions for the assessment of student learning, completion of laboratory work, service learning, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities. Traditional examinations and quizzes, as well as mass exams, will most likely need to be replaced or modified extensively. We have already started working with groups of faculty to find creative solutions to these challenges and will be disseminating this information via future emails and the Teaching and Learning Continuity website.

We also have taken additional steps to help students during these changes to instruction. First, we have extended the withdrawal deadline to April 17, 2020. This will allow students to evaluate the impact of these changes on their learning and give them additional flexibility regarding their course schedules. Second, we are preparing a brief online tutorial for students showcasing strategies to maximize learning in an online environment. Third, a number of student services, including academic advising, tutoring, and others, are also transitioning to online delivery. With these changes, we hope to maximize the learning opportunities for our students and ensure that they have a successful semester. Finally, we have secured some resources for students who may not have access to technology or the internet while away from campus. If you have students with such needs, please ask them to contact the Division of Academic Enhancement for additional support.

Thank you for all your help and efforts in maintaining our teaching mission during this period. We greatly appreciate your flexibility and dedication in this rapidly changing time.