As we continue our preparations for fall semester, I wanted to share some resources that can help guide you through your course design and your interactions with your students this year.
Changes to Academic Policies
If you haven’t already, please carefully review the August 7 “Memorandum of 2020 Key Academic Reminders” that was sent from WSU Provost Elizabeth Chilton. A similar memo is sent by the WSU Provost’s Office at the start of each semester which is usually a routine collection of academic policies.
This year, however, the memo is more substantial and includes specific details due to COVID19: e.g., remote delivery, class absences, synchronous engagement, as well as academic, religious observance, and other academic policies.
Course Delivery Resources
From a self-audit checklist (PDF) to help you design your course, a guide on how to use Blackboard Learn effectively, to remote delivery workshops and trainings, and tips on how to create accessible course materials, Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI) has abundant resources for those of you who are looking to improve your skills in the remote delivery setting. Please utilize them as much as possible.
WSU also has a helpful guide to finalizing your syllabus that features a point-by-point breakdown of what it needs to include. I encourage each instructor to provide clear and specific details and examples of their classroom academic integrity policy and how it applies to the WSU Student Handbook for Community Standards.
Remote delivery provides an opportunity for students to conduct more coursework “out of sight” and to work more freely with other students and resources in the online environment. We should approach this opportunity with optimism that our students are honest and have a passion for learning. Having a passion to learn can blur the line between appropriate resources and the misuse of resources.
We, as their instructors, TAs, mentors, advisors, should do all we can to provide clarity on what is allowed for students to prove what they have learned. And in our current situation, if you suspect cheating, I would ask you to seek clarification and perhaps give the student(s) an opportunity to prove what they learned again, possibly on camera during a one-on-one session. Seeking clarification may also provide insight into “resource use” areas that are confusing for students. That may also allow you to provide clarity to students and to adjust assignments/assessments to minimize the opportunity for cheating.
I’ve attached a template academic integrity statement (DOC) for you to use and adapt as you feel is appropriate and share with your students. Additional University resources on academic integrity can be found on the Center for Community Standards website.
On a side note, I have been informed that WSU will NOT be using Proctorio this fall. Beginning Fall 2020 proctored exams facilitated through AOI will be with ProctorU. Please wait until the information is updated online to add any links to the course space.
Creating a Welcoming Classroom
As you can see, WSU offers many resources available to help guide you and your students to a successful learning experience this year. A quick search of the internet finds many more. I would also suggest reaching out to your colleagues here at Voiland College to share their lessons learned from teaching remotely this spring.
I strongly recommend each of us utilize the principles for Equity and Inclusion in the Online Learning Environment that are outlined from Iowa State University’s Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching throughout the coming year in your classrooms:
- Be Proactive
- Be Accessible
- Be Flexible
- Be Identity-Conscious
- Be Relational
- Be Transparent
Remote course instruction this year will be both challenging and enriching for both students and faculty. Taking steps to add humanity into this online environment will go a long way to ensuring this experience is successful for everyone.
In recent surveys, “What will my classes be like?” is the #1 question our incoming students are asking us. Some students may never have had a remote learning experience before, and of those who have, many will have had negative ones. Please reach out to them prior to August 24 and share with them what your classroom will be like – both technically and pedagogically – to help put their minds at ease. To help, I have also attached a Student “Tech Ready” Checklist you can share with your students to help them get up to speed before classes start.
Finally, a reminder that if you have any technical issues, reach out to the VCEA IT Help Desk online at support.vcea.wsu.edu, by email at email@example.com or by phone at (509) 335-6773. If you are having any academic issues or questions, please reach out to your unit leader, associate deans K. Sivakumar and Shelley Pressley, or myself for support.
Let’s make it a great year.