For the fall 2020 semester, we have modified our approach to classroom teaching to offer a hybrid approach to a residential semester with in-person, online and hybrid teaching modalities. The Fall 2020 Course Roster contains information about the modality of each course.
Tools for Remote Learning
Laptops with Wi-Fi capability are necessary, and noise-canceling headphones are highly recommended, for students who wish to take in-person or remote classes this semester. If you are in need of assistance to purchase a laptop, please work directly with the Office of Financial Aid.
The Learning Strategies Center has developed a checklist to help students prepare to learn remotely. Below are additional resources to help get you started.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are in-person classes different this fall?
In addition to taking basic personal hygiene steps to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus while on campus and wearing appropriate face coverings, students should note a few differences about in-person classes this semester, including:
- You will have a seat assignment in each classroom to ensure that social distancing requirements are being met. Your instructor will provide details.
- Contact your instructor promptly if you can’t attend classes in person at the beginning of the semester – for example, because your arrival has been delayed by travel restrictions or you have been placed in quarantine or isolation. Your instructor will provide the Zoom link for you to participate remotely, which you are encouraged to do if your health permits. Instructors will automatically be notified when Ithaca-based students enrolled in their courses have been placed in quarantine or isolation.
- Exams may be held in person, at the instructor’s discretion. If you require an alternative way to take exams that are held in person, promptly register with Student Disability Services.
Are all students (in-person and remote) expected to attend class at the scheduled time?
The expectation is that students attend their courses synchronously, provided the scheduled class time falls between 8 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. in their local time zone, which mirrors the span of in-person class meeting times on campus. Of course, students are welcome to attend classes outside of this timeframe in their local time zone if they would prefer to participate synchronously rather than rely on class recordings.
What are the different instruction modes for fall 2020 courses?
The instruction modes are described in the updated Fall 2020 Enrollment Guide. They include:
- In-person: The course is delivered via in-person, face-to-face instruction. All required class meetings occur on campus, during scheduled meeting times. Only 7-week courses that conclude prior to Thanksgiving fall into this category.
- In-person with transition to online: The course begins with in-person instruction during scheduled meeting times, followed by a transition after Thanksgiving to online instruction for all students until the end of the semester.
- Hybrid – online and in-person: The course combines in-person instruction during scheduled meeting times with online learning, using a rotational attendance model (e.g., class is split in half or thirds and students alternate between participating in person and online). Instruction transitions after Thanksgiving to online instruction for all students until the end of the semester. Some in-person activity is required. Students will receive rotational attendance information from the academic department once details are determined.
- Online: The course is delivered online, with portions delivered synchronously during scheduled meeting times. Students are expected to participate synchronously so long as the scheduled meeting time is between 8 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. in their local time zone. There are two types of online courses:
- Entirely online for all students and the instructor(s). Doesn't offer options for "in-person", "in-person with transition to online", or "hybrid – online and in-person;" and
- An online version for students to participate remotely in a course with a primary instruction mode of "in-person", "in-person with transition to online", or "hybrid – online and in-person". Instruction takes place in a physical classroom, with some students attending in person and some remotely. Students who enroll in this type of online course are not permitted to attend class meetings in person.
What is a hybrid class?
There are two kinds of hybrid classes: "rotating" and "switch".
The rotating-hybrid format is most typical when the enrollment for a course is greater than 50. In a rotating-hybrid class, 1/n of students attend class in person every 1/n sessions. To make this more concrete, consider an 80-student lecture that meets every Tuesday and Thursday for 75 minutes. Rather than cap the class meeting at 50 or teach it entirely on-line in fall 2020, the instructor has chosen to teach it as a rotating-hybrid course in which 40 students attend in person on Tuesdays and remotely on Thursdays, and 40 students attend remotely on Tuesdays and in person on Thursdays. The instructor is responsible for managing which students attend on which days.
The switch-hybrid class "switches" between in-person and online modes. For example, a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class might meet in person on Monday, then online on Wednesday and Friday. The scheduling of these courses was reserved after all "in-person" and "rotating hybrid" courses were scheduled, on a space-available basis.
If you enrolled in a hybrid course, look out for an email or Canvas notification about when you should attend the class in-person versus online.
What is the difference between synchronous online and asynchronous distance learning?
In an asynchronous class, the students and instructor may never be online at the same time. There will be no "class sessions" in the normal sense. In a synchronous class, there will be scheduled times when the instructor is online for an interactive class session. These sessions might, for example, be lectures, discussions, or facilitated break-out groups of students and instructors.
Can teaching modality vary within a course?
Yes. For example, the lecture component of a course may be online or hybrid, but the mandatory discussion/recitation sections or field trips may be in-person. If a department teaches two or more independently taught sections of the same course, as often occurs in the more popular foreign languages or large-enrollment science courses, each section can differ in its instruction mode. Sections with different instruction modes are identified as such in the course roster.
If a lecture is online, should I assume that the discussion or lab sections will also be online?
No. As noted above, different components of a course may vary in their instruction mode.
Will asynchronous courses have scheduled times?
No, the very nature of an asynchronous course is that there is no scheduled time. This does not mean that students will not have meaningful interactions with their classmates or instructors, but rather that they will be structured in ways that differ from a more traditional synchronous course.
What are semi-finals?
Semi-final exams are akin to final exams in a typical semester. The main difference is that semi-finals will be scheduled in the days before in-person instruction ends at Thanksgiving. They may cover any or all material in a course up to that point, as a regular final exam would. Semi-final exams will be 2.5 hours long. Instructors have the option of giving in-person or online semi-final exams, regardless of the instruction mode of their course (i.e., including online and distance learning asynchronous courses). A course can have a university-scheduled semi-final or an online final exam in December, but not both. As usual, instructors may self-schedule and assign a take-home project, paper or exam to be due during the semi-finals or finals periods.
If a course has an in-person semi-final, then an alternative assessment must be made available for students who are taking the course remotely or who have a pandemic-related accommodation. Online exams can be timed exams; instructors do not need to provide 24-hour windows for exams taken online (as was the case in spring 2020).
Students who have health-related concerns about taking in-person exams during the fall 2020 semester should contact Student Disability Services (SDS) as soon as possible. You will be asked to complete a Disability Self-Disclosure Form and then be assigned an SDS counselor, who will work with you to determine reasonable accommodations.
If a course is offered online, will there definitely be in-person exams?
No, not necessarily. Some instructors of online courses may choose to have online exams, other instructors may choose to have in-person exams and expect student located in Ithaca to take them. Other instructors may assess learning using alternative methods, such as with a final paper or project rather than an exam.
What technology do students need for the fall 2020 semester?
Laptops with Wi-Fi capability are necessary, and noise-canceling headphones are highly recommended, for students who wish to take in-person or remote classes this semester. If you are in need of assistance to purchase a laptop, please contact the Office of Financial Aid.
In-person students: If you are on campus for extended periods of time, a power bank for your laptop is highly recommended given the limited number of power outlets.
How can I get help learning to study for online courses?
The Learning Strategies Center has many guides for students tailored for the online environment. Some of these guides include suggestions for families about how to support their students who are learning remotely.
What is the deadline to return rental textbooks?
The rental return deadline for spring rental textbooks was Sept. 18, 2020. View all rental return options on The Cornell Store returns page.
Can I access library materials and research help when I'm off campus?
Online resources and virtual research help are available. The Library is rolling out services to give scholars and researchers access to physical collections, continues to provide enhanced online resources for Cornell students and faculty and is also planning other services over the course of the summer.
Some students cannot access Google documents (because of internet or other restrictions). What options do they have?
Google documents may be downloaded as a Microsoft version or accessed using Office 365. CIT is in the process of making Office 365 available across campus for the fall semester.