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May 15, 2020: Online Transition Summer Minimester Start

Hello everyone,

The Summer Minimester 1 starts in just a few days. For many of us, this is also the first time teaching online in a term less than 15 weeks. Students will begin accessing courses before the beginning of class on Monday, so please ensure that your Folio sites are activated and ready with course material.

All courses must have a Folio site with at least the following:

  1. The Attendance Verification Quiz (there is an auto-loaded News Item for this requirement; please do not dismiss it on the first day)
  2. A page or upload of the course Syllabus and Schedule (this should include all dates, times, links for synchronous meeting expectations, and clear means of contact for your regular office hours)

We highly encourage you to use the Grade-book within Folio.  

While you might use other means of communication, engagement, or interaction in addition to Folio (like GoogleApps or Zoom), we need to provide a consistent point-of-access for all students. Considering that we are all still in an environment of heightened anxiety, we should provide some consistency for our students to lessen any worry about where to go or what to do on day one.
If you require proctoring software (like Respondus LockDown Browser) for assessments, make this clear in the syllabus. If you require a third-party proctoring service (such as ProctorU), the service details, expectation, and price should be included along with any other required course materials. External proctoring services and/or third-party software platforms should be used only in consultation with department chairs. Given that most universities offering courses this summer will do so online, the availability of such services might be significantly less. This is also an additional expense for students in a time when many are experiencing financial hardships. If you employ a third-party software platform (TopHatcrowdmark, etc…), as the instructor, you will be responsible for offering technical support for your students. CTE and ITS will not be able to offer support for platforms not listed on their sites.

Dropboxes are also a safe, reliable way to receive papers and projects. A quick educational module or video on TurnItIn’s Similarity Report, featured as part of Folio’s Dropboxes, can help reinforce the importance of Academic Integrity in all courses. The academic dishonesty procedure is the same for all courses.

The Folio Jumpstart Guide in the CTE’s Teaching Online page has a number of resources at the ready to help with Folio. Many of us who have already gone through the center’s Teaching Online Course preparation still refer back to it as a resource.

Online courses should not be limited to Zoom or Hangout synchronous meetings. Synchronous interactive delivery techniques, of course, can and should be used, but you should not be solely reliant on that approach. Students enrolling in online courses should be offered asynchronous flexibility as well. Many students will not be able to attend a single 75-minute synchronous session at the same time everyday. That flexibility is one of the primary reasons students elect to attend class online. Synchronous sessions should be supplemental, and provide clarifying discussions, not only primary content delivery. Students unable to attend synchronous sessions should not be penalized for being unable to join those sessions.

Please ensure your course is accessible. Keep in mind as you are designing your courses that all courses must comply with SARC accommodations. Our students may have a range of abilities, accessibility issues, and learning or sensory disabilities. Some will disclose those, and others will not. Some will not even know what they need in an online environment.  Text and audio recording are almost universally accessible. If you use Hangouts/Zoom, ensure that you are creating a transcript for the session available to students immediately after the session. Beyond digital and time-limited accessibility issues, text is accessible for students needing assistive technologies (e.g., screen readers).

Remember, the myth that text-based delivery for online courses can’t be “as engaging” doesn’t hold water. If that were true it would undercut the value, importance, and impact of our written scholarship. Keeping your audience in mind, in both instances though, is vital.  

We are looking forward to a productive and engaging summer, but we know that this summer will be different as we continue to deal with the implications of COVID-19. Please bear this in mind as you finish designing your courses to go live for next week.

We hope that everyone is keeping safe and well,

Office of the Provost


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