Dear Colleagues,

As we are ramping up our efforts to begin distance learning only starting March 23, I wanted to share some information I received from WSU Provost Bryan Slinker, David Cillay, Vice President for Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI), and others around WSU that may help provide you with direction in your efforts.

WSU Campuses and Voiland College Will Remain Open: Students will continue to have access to campus buildings, such as computer labs, the CUB, and the libraries, and they will continue to have access to our services. We may need to address how many students we will allow in these spaces at a given time.

However, Students Should Not Come to Class: even though campus may be open and students may be using common resources (e.g., library, computer lab) for the present, the whole purpose of the switch to distance delivery is to greatly increase social distancing. This includes both classroom AND lab teaching.

Not all things can be transitioned to distance delivery. However, every effort should be made to find reasonable substitute activities. Any requests for exceptions, WHICH WILL RARELY BE APPROVED, need to routed through your unit leader and the dean for ultimate approval by the Provost.

Graduate Student Research (whether supported by an assistanceship or not) will continue.In general, TAs, RAs, and other student employees are to be treated as regular WSU employees, and as such, generally expected to work on campus.If you employ an undergraduate in your program, I ask that you work with them to determine if they choose to continue their employment during this period of online educational delivery.If they prefer to live at a location other than their home campus (Everett, Pullman, Tri-Cities, Vancouver) and it is possible, I’d ask that you allow the student a period of ‘leave without pay’ and that you reemploy them once we’re back to normal operations.

Restrictions on student access to common spaces and research laboratories has not been defined at this time, but let’s try to apply social distancing common sense as you ramp up your planning efforts.

Synchronous is Voiland College’s Preferred Method of Teaching:Student learning benefits from scheduled activities.As instructors, we create a schedule to promote educational attainment of new knowledge and skills.While it is possible to learn a new subject independently (by watching videos, for example), few of us have the self-discipline to succeed.“Live” or “Real-Time” teaching via Zoom should be the method by which your online classes are taught.Students will be expected to join the meeting in real time.We’re working to have your TAs or others trained to manage the Zoom environment to facilitate getting real-time answering of students’ questions while minimally burdening the instructor (more on this soon).For those students who lack the high-speed connections to connect “live”, Zoom allows for recording, which will be posted to Blackboard for viewing on demand.

Get Training- for Yourself, for your TAs: WSU offers daily trainings for faculty and staff on how to use our video sharing and capturing technology in Blackboard. There are trainings this week and next. Voiland College IT is available to assist with Zoom training- contact them at support@wsu.edu

Voiland College is home to several faculty members of our fully-online Master’s in Engineering Technology Management degree program.

They are available to help you learn to use online teaching tools to successfully teach and engage students online. If you are concerned about the transition and would like some one-on-one help, please reach out to the METM Director Todd Vanek (gtvanek@wsu.edu).

Consult the AOI Guide for Students: This includes information from the student point of view about how to access courses through Blackboard Learn and use technology tools they may need to complete courses. We urge you to review this information because it may help you be more effective to see these activities from the students’ point of view.

Maintain Reasonable Accommodations: please work with AOI as necessary for advice in using technology to do this, and as always check in with the Access Center as needed.

Reach Out to Your Students (by email): I’m sure they are nervous and have a lot of questions. Make sure they know how and when they are meeting. Include these details in the Blackboard course space.

You may “lose” students during this transition to online teaching. They may not be engaged, they may not have web access, they may be confused. Please make a continual effort to reach out to your students to ensure that they are comfortable and engaged in this new learning environment.

Proctoring is Available: If faculty chose, online exams in Blackboard can be proctored through the third party vendor Proctorio, with whom Global Campus currently has a contract. Instructions for faculty are located here on the For Proctored Exams WSU Web Page.

I know there is a lot going on right now and it can be a lot to process. You can read my prior COVID19 letters on the Voiland College Faculty/Staff Web Page and I will continue to keep you informed as new information develops.

Look for updates on WSU’s response efforts at WSU’s COVID-19 web site on a regular basis, and you can always send your questions to WSU’s dedicated COVID-19 email COVID-19.info@wsu.edu.

Be Safe, Cougs!

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