One … Two … continuing the remote course delivery conversation


Day two and slowly counting.  The situation remains fluid and guidance is still evolving.  I am meeting almost daily at 8:00 with counterparts in other colleges and with the Provost’s office to think through options and logistics.  I want to keep you informed as quickly as possible, and I apologize up front for not being able to vet and edit these messages as carefully as I would otherwise attempt.  In particular, I may well have overlooked some obvious alternatives solutions and missed key challenges.

Some things are becoming clear.  First … as you think about your courses moving forward, you need to consider two different time windows; (i) options that are viable before spring break while students are expected to still remain local and available for physical classes and (ii) options for post-spring break course delivery.  To help you thinking, below are some considerations.

Pre-spring break:

  • Courses can continue to be taught in conventional formats with sensitivity to students who may be at greater risk due to underlying medical conditions. 
  • It is not appropriate to attempt to compress the remaining semester into the lectures before break.  Other courses continue and students will have numerous distractions / other priorities.  Increasing stress by attempting to compress 6 weeks into 1 week is inappropriate.
  • Synchronous deliver of content via on-line lectures is viable.  Hardware may be challenging since rooms with dedicated equipment for synchronous delivery are likely already scheduled for other classes which may not have gone on-line.
  • Restructuring the syllabus timing to deliver content that is most dependent on synchronous delivery should be prioritized for this period.
  • Labs, in particular, should be thinking of shifting analysis to post-spring break and focusing on experimental work immediately.

Post-spring break:

  • Think about course remote delivery as consisting of two distinct components, with the second absolutely critical
    • Content delivery (lecture, notes, etc.)
    • Substantive interaction – the direct interactions that provide value to the students beyond listening to content
  • Expect that synchronous delivery of course content will be difficult and available to a very small subset of courses
    • Key challenges include the distribution of students across many time zones, including international zones.
      • Normal class times are unlikely to be viable
      • Any shift of class time to accommodate synchronous delivery will need coordination across the University’
    • Hardware is the least of the concerns in this case
    • Please communicate with Kathy Dimiduk if you believe synchronous delivery is critical for your course
  • Asynchronous delivery can take multiple forms and consider many alternatives
    • CTI has notes for several options … see their website for on-line instructions
    • The 50 minute quantum for courses is no longer dictated by the physics of the universe.  Consider smaller chunks and how you will manage them.
  • Think proactively about methods for substantive interaction
    • On-line office hours and discussion sessions
    • Group projects mentored by you and TAs

Research and Project based courses:

  • The best guidance we have at the moment is that undergraduate will not be permitted to continue in any campus based activities post spring break (independent research, projects, etc.).  It is also unlikely – at the moment – that there will even be a petition option to waive this restriction.
  • Think about comparable experiences for students in these classes that can be delivered remotely (literature exploration, designs).

I will continue to send daily updates every morning with the latest information that I have.  Please feel free to contact me directly and I will make every attempt to be much more responsive than in normal circumstances.

We will survive this landing!