Teaching resources for fall classes

July 17, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As we plan for the fall semester, we would like to share some information that we hope will be helpful as you decide on your teaching modality (in person or online). To prepare for our comprehensive surveillance testing program, we tested over 1,000 contract college faculty and staff a couple weeks ago. This pilot went quite well and allowed us to assess local prevalence rates (which were very low) and helped us to refine our protocols. Our expectation is that faculty who teach in person will participate fully in the asymptomatic testing program, and of course we will also have the capacity to test anyone who thinks they may have been exposed. Our aim is to make this surveillance testing as convenient as possible. We have relied on nasal pharyngeal tests to date but are working towards alternative and less invasive self-sampling methodologies for the fall semester. As an added layer of precaution, we will be able to screen entire classes if an individual in the class tests positive.

An important goal for the fall is to provide students with at least one in-person learning opportunity, if possible. We have discussed this goal with department chairs, and understand that, for several reasons, many faculty who had been considering teaching in-person are now leaning toward offering their courses online. We do hope that departments can adopt strategies that provide a mix of in-person and online learning opportunities for students; we are prioritizing spaces for use for in-person courses. This could be achieved in smaller classes or with breakout discussion sections. We are working with chairs to make this possible and we hope that you will be active participants in these discussions.

One thing that we are hearing is that there is concern about teaching in person, while at the same time providing remote access for students who cannot participate in person (for example, for students who are in quarantine). The Center for Teaching Innovation (CTI) is developing easy-to-use templates for how simultaneous in-person and remote participation can be facilitated by instructors, TAs and students. Instructors of in-person courses are not required to pre-record their lectures—they will teach "live" in the classroom, much like their regular mode of teaching. Depending on the time zones of the students enrolled, remote participation could occur synchronously using Zoom or asynchronously using recordings of class meetings. In instances where there are multiple sections of the same course (e.g. discussion or lab sections) or many versions of a course with the same learning goals (e.g., First Year Writing Seminar), departments can opt to offer a mix of all-online and in-person only versions, without remote access, since students participating remotely could enroll in online course sections. We would like to assure you of technical support in your teaching endeavors. Among other resources, CIT will offer a space at 120 Maple to provide a showroom for faculty and college support staff to learn about the technology and facilitate distribution of equipment.

For those of you who choose to teach online, it is important that courses are not simply a series of Zoom lectures. CTI can help assure this with guided and independent course support resources to help instructors prepare for their online courses. Please note that in order to help instructors improve web accessibility, a diagnostic tool called Ally will be automatically activated in all-online Canvas courses.

CTI is offering workshops and consultations throughout the summer, in addition to their web-based resources, to support the development of thoughtfully designed courses. In addition to the support provided by CTI, CIT, and college IT teams, we will also facilitate Communities of Practice throughout the summer to allow faculty to meet and share experiences and ideas for either mode of teaching.

Our common ultimate goal, of course, is to provide the highest quality educational experience for our students and we hope you will be able to take advantage of the resources provided. Thank you for your ongoing efforts in these extraordinary times.


Mike Kotlikoff, Provost
Lisa Nishii, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
Julia Thom-Levy, Vice Provost for Academic Innovation
Gary Koretzky, Vice Provost for Academic Integration