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Mar. 16, 2020 - Message from the Provost

March 16, 2020

Transition to Online Instruction

Dear Faculty:

This morning, the President presented the university’s plans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to the UW Board of Trustees. The plans include moving all instruction to online delivery for the remainder of the spring semester. Spring break is extended one week for students, so that faculty can use that time to prepare for online delivery.

Those following breaking news undoubtedly realize that many universities are responding to the pandemic in this way.

The remainder of this message contains important information regarding UW’s transition to online instruction, as well as resources available for support of faculty in this process. 

 

Logistical Details – First Steps

  1. Faculty members should send email to students enrolled in their courses as soon as possible, but no later than 24 hours before the scheduled meeting time of your first class session after the extended spring break, with plans for course continuation and access to WyoCourses. If a faculty member does not have complete plans ready at that time, the message should let students know when they can expect further details.

  2. Spring break was extended by one week to allow faculty members to transition to alternative delivery modes as soon as possible. 

  3. No distance classes should be reconvened until March 30, 2020.

 

Key Guidelines for Online Delivery

  1. Students’ progress toward graduation should not be impacted by the change in instructional delivery mode. We recognize that some hands-on laboratory or performance courses might be difficult to conduct remotely. For those courses, we urge faculty to think creatively and consult colleagues to discuss ways to fulfill learning outcomes using alternative delivery methods.

  2. Courses must comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Student information, including grades, may not be shared via email. It is recommended that students use their university credentials to access course materials and instruction through WyoCourses.

  3. If you have students requiring disability accommodations, please work with UDSS (www.uwyo.edu/udss/) to ensure accessibility of your course.

  4. Students may NOT be asked to pay for additional fees related to course delivery. This includes proctoring service fees. You can use the LockDown Browser quicklink within your WyoCourses shell to deploy the application, Respondus, and lock down access to web browsers during your exam. Honorlock, a proctoring application, is also readily available now in all WyoCourses shells; simply move it into the active menu and integrate it with your exams. An onboarding document is forthcoming -- meanwhile, you can contact Jeff Miller at jmiller@uwyo.edu or 307-766- 3726.

  5. As you redesign your courses, we strongly recommend that you focus on the learning outcomes of your class, and that you consider using an asynchronous instructional approach. Please recognize that your students are coming to terms with as much uncertainty and change as you are right now. So an expectation that you will conduct and students will attend synchronous class sessions may be unrealistic. In addition, some students have technology and other limitations. We are working to get guidance to faculty on these situations as soon as possible.

  6. Faculty can use synchronous course sessions (via Zoom) when necessary. Our recommendation is that faculty use this mode primarily for interactive discussions, during your regularly scheduled class times or office hours. Please be mindful of how teaching assistants (TA) are incorporated in the alternative delivery plan. Current guidelines and restrictions on TA time and workload should be maintained.

  7. Please try to use the lowest-bandwidth option that meets your instructional needs. For example, use Zoom only for interactive discussions. Do not use Zoom for classes of greater than 150 students. Use video, audio or text options for lecture delivery whenever possible.  

  8. If faculty already have online section(s), you may want to consider consolidating face-to-face sections of the same course into other sections now being delivered online. 

 

Support Resources

  1. Academic Affairs has published a website and Action Plan that provide additional guidelines. 

  2. Our instructional design and faculty development groups in the ECTL continue to provide consultations, web trainings and sharing national best practices on teaching online.

  3. Please visit www.uwyo.edu/workteachremote to learn more about how to do your work and teaching remotely in response to this disruption.

  4. Some departments, schools and colleges have additional resources and support for their faculty. Please look for additional emails from your department, school or college.

  5. The University has created a website that provides resources, communication, and FAQs about COVID-19.

 

The Academic Affairs team and I very much appreciate your efforts to ensure instruction continues for our students. We also appreciate your flexibility and understanding with students who will be rapidly adapting to new instructional circumstances.

This is a singular time for our institution and our world. I thank each of you for your leadership, your creative approaches and your dedication to our students and our missions.

Be well,

Kate Miller, Provost and Vice President for Academic AffairsProvost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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