Mar. 12, 2020

Resources for the Move to Remote Instruction

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

With the announcement that we will cease in-person class meetings after spring break, the task before us is to move to remote instruction to ensure a fulfilling academic experience for our students via remote learning. This is no small challenge. Fortunately, we have nearly two weeks to initiate this change since classes will not resume until Wednesday, March 25. We purposely added two days to the break to give you more time to prepare. I urge you to begin your work now, before there are any further unexpected restrictions on your ability to travel to campus.

The Information Services staff have created a dedicated webpage to assist you in addressing a range of challenges related to academic continuity. They will be holding information sessions throughout the spring break and beyond. If you are interested, please register in advance so the staff can be prepared to support you as effectively as possible (upcoming sessions are listed on the webpage and pasted below). Shain and Greer libraries contain many other resources, of course, including an array of computing and other equipment that you may wish to access in the transition.  Shain's Access Services staff is organizing a process to make course reserves material available to students who need it. Information will be forthcoming.

Getting a handle on the technology is one thing; how to effectively employ it is another. For questions involving pedagogy, the CTL and Information Services have created a guide to effective remote teaching (see attached). Director Michael Reder and Faculty Fellow Karen Gonzalez-Rice are also available for consultation. This guide and a growing number of other resources are located on Moodle, under the heading Resources for Academic Continuity.  A number of you already employ a variety of formats and technologies that can be adapted to remote learning, and I'm confident that we will find ways to share this collective experience and wisdom in the days and weeks ahead. Don't hesitate to send your suggestions or questions my way. I’ll make sure to share all useful information and resources. This is a time to help each other.  

Perhaps the most important thing you can do right away is to reach out to your students to acknowledge how difficult this situation is and to reassure them that you’re engaged in planning for the shift to remote instruction. Please send similar reassurances to your advisees and establish a schedule of communication with them. You may want to remind all students that we will adhere to the published academic calendar, meaning that some final work will be due on the last day of finals week and that final grades will be submitted as scheduled. While we have left open, and truly wish for, the possibility of an on-campus experience for seniors after April 30, you should be prepared to conclude your classes in a remote format.   

Your students may turn to you with all manner of questions. For matters related to academic progress, please inform them that their class deans stand ready to assist. For questions related to non-academic matters, you can refer them to the dedicated microsite. You will find the information there, including a constantly updated series of FAQ, is pertinent to you as well as staff and students.

If we act promptly and draw on the strength of our community, we will surmount challenges that appear daunting in this moment. I stand ready to mobilize all necessary resources to support the work of the faculty in these unprecedented times.

Sincerely,

Jeff Cole

Dean of Faculty

Professor of Anthropology