COVID-19: Update on Instruction

March 31, 2020

This message was originally sent on March 16, 2020. It is being published here for preservation.

As you know, we are working hard to change quickly, and to anticipate the decisions we may need to make, as we deal with a rapidly changing response to COVID19.  During this period it is important that we are agile in our plans and willing to adapt. Listed below are areas where such agility is critical.

  1. Soft-launch week & Assessments – Student travel, bandwidth issues, and technology challenges make the full switch to online instruction a challenging exercise. For this reason, and as you read from the email from the President and the Chancellors, this coming week will be a ‘soft launch’ week.  What does ‘soft launch’ mean?  It means that we will use this week to identify, address, and correct problems that arise as we transition all of our academic programming to a fully online model. It means that will we use this week to resolve the glitches stemming from first-time adoption of online technologies that may affect some faculty and students.  What does this mean for your course schedule and planned assessments? It means that you can continue with your planned schedule, offer the assessments you had planned for the week, AND make accommodations for the students who have difficulty completing the assignment this week. If a student has a problem, allow them to make up the assessment later.

I realize that some of you have scheduled assessments for this week and this will mean changes and more work.  I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

  1. Synchronous versus Asyncrhonous Teaching – After discussions among a sub-group within our Academic Preparedness Team, we have decided that asynchronous teaching will be the preferred option. We strongly encourage all faculty to adopt an asynchronous online teaching mode.  If you choose to go with the synchronous option, we suggest you record all your lectures in CANVAS so students can download and learn at their convenience. I realize this means more work, but given a rapidly changing situation with respect to COVID-19, we felt it best to go this route.  This will minimize student concerns relating to travel and time zone differences, and also help students review the material at their convenience. As you know, students are anxious as things continue to change rapidly.  Research shows that the more options we can provide them, the more control they have and the less anxious they will be.
  2. Proctoring – Online courses do not lend themselves to the same levels of proctoring as do in-seat courses. Online proctoring is also expensive, especially now, as demand continues to grow with several academic institutions moving to the online format. Our faculty teaching online courses have developed a repertoire of options for assessment that reduce the need for proctoring. Professors Heather Hunt and Rose Marra have created a list of these options for your consideration and benefit.  Click here to review these.  If you still prefer to use Proctoring using Examity (which will be fairly expensive given demand at this point in time), please consult your department chair and dean, who will be responsible for the payment.


Latha Ramchand, PhD

Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs