March 24, 2020
I know that everyone is working very hard as we look ahead to moving to remote teaching for the coming term. This email focuses on some important items to consider for academic continuity:
Week one advice
We know for many of you that it will take some time to get used to delivering courses remotely, and that you are being asked to pivot on short notice. Please remember that you retain control of your course content and pacing, so you can adjust week one activities and expectations to help you and your students ease into the new environment. It is imperative, though, that you do at least one trackable academic engagement during week one and week two to comply with financial aid rules. This might be a short readiness quiz or other online assignment, or a required academic post to a discussion board. It is important that students feel engaged as soon as possible so that they feel strongly connected to their educational experience.
Connecting with your students
Please make a point to contact students registered for your courses as soon as possible. Students also are experiencing a level of anxiousness over the start of spring term. Advisors are already reaching out to students. To hear from you directly will surely lessen any worries they might have, as students will understand that we are all having to deal with a level of uncertainty during this rapidly changing time.
Use Canvas to email your students and let them know how you will support and communicate with them. You can also obtain student email addresses from course rolls on DuckWeb. The Teaching Engagement Program has put together suggested talking points for contacting students if you need them. Please see the Academic Continuity website for guidance. As important: If you have a great plan or an idea for effective remote instruction, don’t hesitate to share it with others by posting it to the TEP blog or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Livestreaming for courses
If faculty or GEs are doing any livestreaming or meetings for their course, they should do so during their scheduled class time. They should also record those sessions (this is simple to do in Zoom – link here for instructions) and make them available on Canvas, and provide any necessary make-up alternatives for students who cannot be on at the livestream times.
Remember, some students might not have consistent access to the internet, and international students who are studying remotely from home might be in a different time zone. Those are among the things that must be taken into consideration so that we take care to reach all students. If you hear of a student who is having trouble connecting with the university in any way, have them send an email to email@example.com so an advisor can reach out to them.
Information is forthcoming regarding instructors’ access to classrooms and offices; as well as to the extent that labs, studios, and computer labs may be accessed.
Faculty rights to academic curricula
Remote instruction will be new to many. Please know that the university will not seek to capture any of the streaming lecture materials developed by faculty and GEs during this time. We want you to know that we are very mindful that some faculty and GEs have raised concerns about whether the university will attempt to claim such materials. We will not. Also, please note Zoom recordings that include student interaction can only be shared with registered students due to FERPA. If you have any concerns about this, please discuss with your unit head. You can also send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accessibility, accommodation considerations for students
Some students with disabilities or medical conditions may encounter barriers with remote instruction that were not apparent in in-person classes. Students making these known to you should be encouraged to contact the Accessible Education Center as soon as possible so that appropriate accommodations can be determined and the university can remain in legal compliance.
Attendance and grades
Under the Academic Council’s guidance, we are suspending enforcement of the mandatory attendance requirement for spring 2020. Students who do not remotely attend their initial class period will not be removed during spring term from courses flagged with this requirement. As mentioned above, faculty and GEs should still have expectations for students to engage with the course through Canvas during the first week, so it is crucial that students read emails and follow instructions for each course. Attendance should not count toward grades.
Some reminders about temporary changes to UO’s academic rules for winter term grading
We are suspending academic disqualifications for winter term 2020. Students who would have been disqualified after winter term 2020 can remain at the UO on probation, and will be required to meet remotely with an advisor during spring term 2020.
Also, we are extending the deadline to change grade-optional courses from Graded to Pass/No Pass for winter term. This extension will be available after grades post on March 24, 2020, until April 24, 2020. That way, students can make an informed choice about grade options for specific courses. Students will not need a petition form or documentation to support these kinds of requests for this option. All of the rules about grade option changes are still in effect.
Fieldwork, internships, and external experience activities
Due to Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order, we can no longer allow any in-person, face-to-face fieldwork, internships, practica, or other external experiential activity that is for credit, requirement based, or otherwise sponsored or encouraged by UO. Remember, for students about to graduate, departments can already make exceptions to requirements and this may be necessary in this case.
Departments can increase class size with dean approval now that there will not be room size restrictions. This is done through a request to the registrar. Department heads should consult with affected faculty and GEs prior to doing this so they understand the implications, and they may want to establish an approval process through the dean’s office. Class sizes can be increased provided:
- It is not a course with a prescribed syllabus such as in Romance Languages
- Faculty and GEs adjust syllabus to account for increases if necessary
- The request does not require additional instructional or grading resources
Student Experience Surveys
Faculty and GEs should feel free to explore how best to deliver their courses in a high-quality fashion this term. We have suspended formal Student Experience Surveys for the coming term, given the COVID-19 situation. Student Experience Surveys and changes in instruction over spring term will not negatively impact reviews for faculty, including merit review and promotion decisions moving forward. Last week, an auto-generated email was sent out to faculty and GEs, reminding them to complete winter term instructor reflections. Please disregard that email. I trust each of you to fully commit to providing high-quality instruction to your students during this challenging time.
Faculty and GE Support Team and weekly email
As you prepare to launch your remote courses, the Office of the Provost is here to support you. We want to ensure you and your students have the necessary resources you need to make learning experiences meaningful this term. We have established a Faculty and GE Support Team in my office led by Associate Vice Provost Carol Gering (UO Online) and Assistant Vice Provost Lee Rumbarger (Teaching Engagement Program).
Every Sunday beginning next week, the team will send an email to faculty and GEs with any time-sensitive reminders, an update on the latest resources, training support opportunities, and other information available to help you teach this term.
In the meantime, our team has set up resources for you to use immediately. In addition to the web resource page, the Teaching Engagement Program is offering consultations through Zoom Mondays through Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on any aspect of your remote teaching. To join, click here.
You can also sign up for help using Canvas for your courses. There will be online sessions held on Wednesday, March 25, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. The sessions will address students’ points of entry into a remote course, show examples of a simple course welcome module, and discuss the mechanics of orienting students and getting to know them online. If you need more information, send an email to email@example.com.
You can find the most current information on the UO's coronavirus webpage, which includes an FAQ and links to additional information about the novel coronavirus and messages related to the university's preparation and response. General questions or concerns about anything related to the university and its response to COVID-19 can be submitted using this web form.
My apologies for the length of this email, but it is my hope that you will find some of these resources to be helpful as you prepare for the upcoming term. Personally, I want to thank each of you for the work you are doing to help our students. I also would ask that you continue with the spirit that so many faculty members and GEs are exhibiting by being adaptable and helping each other. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the only way we can all get through this is if we stand together during these difficult times. Please take care.
Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs