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Preparing for Virtual Week Two

March 27, 2020

Dear faculty,

Thank you for your hard work to help our students negotiate the first week of their online classes! I have heard a lot of positive feedback on your efforts, as well as many reports about how students are doing. As one professor told me, “students are present, with grit, but at times numb.”

We now need to look ahead to prepare for the next several weeks, which will bring unanticipated as well as predictable challenges.

On the unanticipated challenges, “Zoombombing” has become a novel internet virus, in which external (and sometimes actual students) post racist or vulgar content on Zoom. WebEx appears to be immune, and those of you using Zoom can be inoculated by steps spelled out on the Faculty Resource and Information webpage.

On the predictable challenges, we all need to prepare should we become ill with coronavirus. University leadership has developed succession planning for PEC, deans, and directors.

I ask that each of you work with your chair to assign a faculty who may take over your classes should you become ill. To that end, please activate Blackboard, post your syllabi, and enter all grades in the Grade Center feature. These will help ensure educational continuity and compliance with the federal financial aid policy should students stop attending.

The Center for Teaching and Learning has created these videos on the Faculty Resources and Information webpage to help you:

  • How to activate your class
  • How to upload your syllabus
  • How to use Grade Center

There are three additional ways to get help with online teaching through the Center for Teaching and Learning.

  • Email
  • Connect during CTL Office Hours
  • Connecting with a faculty coach

Visit the Faculty Resources and Information webpage and find this information under the CTL Drop-in Hours and Faculty Coaching for Online Teaching and Learning links for additional information on these resources.

Finally, please remember how difficult this crisis is for your students.

In conversation with the student body president Madeline Ruiz, she reminded me again of how challenging this is for students. They are fearful for their families’ and own health, are experiencing additional financial stress, and their home-lives are not always compatible with studying online.

Please be mindful of their stress, and continue to consider the next week as a transition, avoiding high-stakes exams or assignments and continuing to offer encouragement and motivation. A series of articles from the Chronicle of Higher Education relating to this matter are attached, along with my update to Senate.


Jonathan Reed