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Faculty Resources and Information

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Resources for Online Courses

Spring and Summer 2020 Finals Optional and Assignment Review Recommendations for Undergraduate Faculty

In order to address the reported student stress issues that have resulted from upheaval and on-line adjustment factors caused by the Coronavirus, we recommend and encourage the application of the following options for faculty that may alleviate these student concerns and also are consistent with their professorial academic freedom. It is optional for faculty to choose a deviation from what is outlined on the syllabus but any major revisions should be discussed with the department or program chair before implementation. Here are some suggestions to relieve overburdening students for the remainder of the term/semester:

· Reduce the stress of final exams: Students are very concerned about the upcoming stress of final exams. There are a variety of options available to Professors to alleviate this a way that still maintains the academic integrity and freedom of any particular course. These may include:

o Opting to cancel final exams and use the course work as the basis of final grades

o Using a simple project or open book test requiring the knowledge and skills that relate to the overall course goals.

o Allowing students to create groups (limited in number) to complete a final task/project as a team.

o Using open book multiple choice quizzes as a means of review and consolidation of key course learning goals

o Giving a series of short answer questions which can be completed over time during the remaining course weeks

· Reduce the stress of remaining course work: Students have reported finding many on-line requirements are more time consuming and burdensome than in traditional classes. Professors can address this by reviewing their remaining course work and assignments to ensure there are no unnecessary tasks and considering a reduction in the number of exercises, quizzes and tasks

· Notice to students: Consistent with the goal or stress reduction, faculty should give notice to the students of any changes in the exams or curriculum as soon as possible

Best Practices in Attendance, Grading, and Office Hours

Attendance/Absence Guidelines

  • Relax attendance policies where absences affect grades
  • Consider an alternative to participation points or in-class attendance; i.e. discussion board on Blackboard, viewing of webcasts related to course content, etc. (see attachment How to Move a Course Online for ideas)

Grading Guidelines

  • As approved by Senate, all undergraduate students may opt to take classes Credit/No-Credit (CRD/NCRD).
  • Provide remote or online alternatives for participation points, or waive those points from final grades
  • Communicate your course policies early and often to all students, using channels you normally use. Be clear about how you will communicate to them and about the adjustments you will make to the course.
  • Provide options to make up missed exams and assignments

Incomplete Policy

  • (INC): Incompletes are authorized only when 1) it is impossible for the student to complete the course due to illness or other justifiable extenuating cause and 2) the student has successfully completed all coursework up to the last day to withdraw in the semester or term (2019-2020 catalog, p 57).
  • Consider giving INC grades to any student who misses class due to illness

Office Hours

  • Even though you are not on campus, you can still hold office hours via phone or WebEx.
  • Be sure to distribute your phone number or personal room link in several formats, such as through email, on your syllabus, and on your course Blackboard page.

Best Practices in Online Pedagogy

Things to Consider

  • A clear communication plan that addresses frequent and consistent communication discusses tasks, expectations, and course progress
  • A communication policy that explains when learners should contact you, how learners should contact you, how and when you will contact/respond to students and preferred methods of communication
  • Access to course materials that is clearly structured and labeled, uses active links, is outlined to provide information on how, when, and why materials should be used, notes the most recent version of materials, and is accessible to all students’ needs
  • Lectures are provided synchronously or asynchronously. If synchronous that an asynchronous version is also uploaded to Blackboard using Webex
  • Assignments are posted and you collect your assignments on Blackboard, use tools and programs accessible to students, use formats familiar to students that provide a chance to experiment with the necessary tools and processes and have clear directions and naming protocols
  • Feedback is clear and transparent, guides students on future steps/assignments, is goal oriented and focused, and is clear and individualized
  • Course labs are demonstrated and available to the fullest extent possible online
  • Class discussions use appropriate tools, are clear and goal focused with clear expectations and community norms and etiquette are explained
  • Further resources can be found here: Online Resources 

Carefully consider the accessibility of your materials. Some students may be accessing your course through a phone app, so making sure materials can be read on a smartphone can stop problems early. Likewise, Adobe Reader will read pdfs out loud for students, which can be helpful in many situations. This, however, is not the case if the material is a scanned document. Let students know, though, that they need to use Adobe Reader (and not Preview), particularly if you are using highlighting and commenting features of acrobat.

How do I or Hold or Record Lectures?

Should you choose to hold some or all course meetings synchronously, WebEx is the ULV sanctioned program.  Each member of the La Verne community does have access to WebEx via their myportal.laverne.edu.  This also allows you to pre-recorded lectures for your students. Please be sure to test WebEx before delivering a live lecture to ensure that your equipment is functioning correctly.

Recommended Equipment:

Before moving to an online environment, it is good to make sure you have access to the various necessary components.

  • A device with a good internet connection. Mobile and computer devices are supported.
  • Headphones or earbuds (optional)
  • Microphone (if possible, a separate microphone can be better than your device’s built in)
  • Web camera (optional, but preferred)
  • For further support look at this WebEx support link or reach out to ctl@laverne.edu.

WebEx also allows you to record your interactions which can be helpful if students have a hard time connecting in real time or if students want to review that class session. Recordings available to them via links in your Blackboard class after the fact.

Best Practices in Online Discussion Groups

Creating a sense of community in an online environment can be more challenging in some ways, but can actually provide more avenues for participation among students, particularly introverted students and students for whom English is just one of the languages they speak.

Consider the different means and tools you have to generate discussion. Be sure that you are choosing tools, though, that fit the needs and learning goals of the situation and not just the tool that looks fun to try. Blackboard has a discussion board tool that allows students to respond to discussion prompts and to one another in writing. VoiceThread is also a tool you have available which allows students to respond to prompts and to each other through short video clips. As with other assignments be sure to use tools that are accessible to students via computer and phone.

Directions to create a discussion board prompt can be found here.

  • Provide clear discussion expectations and grading policies. As teachers we have a sense of what we want to see in a discussion answer or reply. Provide detailed instructions about what you expect and why. This may be the first time a student is interacting with others in this particular format. Let students know how you will grade the discussion so that they can tailor their responses to the questions and each other in a productive way. Be sure to tell students if you want them to provide examples from the materials or outside of class, if you have a required amount of responses and what a substantive response looks like to avoid a lot of “I agree” responses.
  • Provide clear etiquette policies. Just as you want to create a productive face-to-face environment, you will also want to be clear in regard to what is and is not acceptable in online communication. Often students will have communicated with others online, but perhaps not in the way appropriate to your course environment. Model the types of communication you want to see in your students’ interactions.
  • Create and maintain a connection with your students as this can go a long way toward maintaining student engagement. Consider recording videos so students can see you from time to time even though you don’t share a physical space. Tone is important in communication. Often, in writing, it is easy to misread the intent or sentiment of a message. BE deliberate with the way you construct messages to your students.

Resources for Telecommuting

Two applications are available, Jabber, which allows you to accept and place calls from your cell phone as though you are using your office phone, and VDI, which allows you to access your desktop remotely.

Should you need Jabber or VDI, please work with your UMC member to obtain. UMC members can be found here.

  1. Jabber. As a part of your request for Jabber, we will need to know what device type you wish to setup.
  2. The vast majority of the applications you need are within MyPortal. However, for administrative departments (e.g. payroll, finance, HR etc.), Virtual Desktop Infrastructure(VDI) allows individuals to access applications from within the La Verne network while working remotely.
  3. VDI and Jabber instructions are in the University portal for all to access.  One must login to access this information using their network credentials.  The direct link to these materials is located here.  For additional information on understanding if you need access to VDI see the attached decision tree document

I Am Concerned About My Tenure/Promotion

Given that the pandemic may have prevented or interrupted faculty progress in scholarship and professional development, faculty may opt in to a one-year extension of their probationary period and delay their tenure decision. Faculty should discuss this option with their Dean/Department Chair, and adhere to the portfolio deadline of August 15 to finalize their decision.

Students Are Asking Questions I Cannot Answer

A Student Resource and Information link has been created on the laverne.edu/coronavirus web page. Please familiarize yourself with this basic information and refer students to this page.