Dear Colleagues,

Many of you have already seen today’s news that all campuses in the Washington State University system will transition from face-to-face classes, testing, and advising, to distance delivery beginning on Monday, March 23, following WSU’s Spring Break.

In preparation for this transition, I have mobilized our Voiland College Leadership Team to help troubleshoot and coordinate solutions to the challenges this change brings, and I encourage you to bring any ideas, questions, or concerns you may have to your unit leaders or myself.

We are also reaching out to our colleagues at other universities to learn from their experience with online teaching transition. Our colleagues at Stanford and the University of Washington offer these tips for online course instruction during COVID-19:

Assess Your Ability: Use the next 10 days to assess and prepare to teach online. If you haven’t already, please visit WSU’s online teaching toolkit for extended distance delivery and complete a readiness assessment.

Stanford University offers this excellent online resource on how to prepare for online teaching as well.

Maintain Class Schedules: To the extent that it is possible, it is WSU’s expectation that online classes will be held at their normally scheduled times. Our colleagues at other universities found that maintaining a regular schedule has several benefits for students, staff, and faculty.

Get Panopto AND Zoom Training: Staff, TAs, and faculty can benefit immensely from training. Panopto is great for asynchronous teaching, but Zoom also has great features that allow you to communicate synchronously with your students. Staff, TAs, and faculty can benefit immensely from this training.

WSU is offering daily Panopto trainings for faculty and staff this week. You can learn to create a Panopto recording and upload it to your Blackboard course space, embed a YouTube video and add a quiz to your Panopto video.

Contact our IT staff who are available to assist you in-person and remotely with your technical needs, including Zoom sessions.

Train your TAs – Preparing teaching assistants will be critical for moving instruction online, assisting students during virtual office hours, or in the event you cannot teach a class.  Zoom has really great tools for managing virtual classroom issues (there is a button you can click to raise your hand, how to mute all microphones, etc.) which are easy to learn.

Prepare for students who may not have access to tablets, phones or computers. Faculty who have not already done so should conduct a poll of their students to assess how many will need technology or broadband support to enable their learning. Please complete this today and send to your school/department chair.

Develop a plan for virtual advising of students. Whether it be office hours or academic advising, your students will appreciate it.

Develop a plan to sustain your staff, faculty and graduate students. People are going to feel isolated and they are already on edge. Slack and other online apps provide a great way to bond with your team.

Remember, you are not alone. There are many, many issues we will need to solve in order to continue provide the quality education our students expect from us, but I have confidence that by working together, we will succeed.

Continue to look for updates and FAQs on WSU’s response efforts at WSU’s COVID-19 website on a regular basis, and you can always send your questions to WSU’s dedicated COVID-19 email


Dean Mary Rezac's signature
Mary Rezac (she/her/hers)
Dean, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
Washington State University
Phone: 509-335-5593
Twitter: @VCEA_Dean