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The update below was shared with faculty and staff on March 25.
Just as pilots use a checklist before take-off, we thought it might be helpful to you to have a quick checklist before your remote-learning launch.
The Two Most Important Things
All the technological bells and whistles are FAR less important than these two primary things:
- Make sure your students know what you expect from them (through a revised syllabus and clear directions on all activities and assignments),
- Have a daily presence for the students in the class (by posting announcements and/or sending emails), and
- Have remote office hours (by real-time email, telephone, WebEx, or Bb Collaborate).
Addendum, March 26: In the Faculty Checklist we recommended checking in with your students “daily.” That point needs some clarification. We did not mean to suggest adding to the deluge of messaging everyone is getting by emailing your students every day of the week. Rather, we meant that you should have a presence in the online classroom each day that the class would normally meet. So, if you teach a particular course on Monday and Thursday, then please reach out to your students with some sort of email, announcement or posted video on those days each week even if you are not doing synchronous class sessions with them. That way you will continue to have a presence in that class.
- Make sure your students hear from you quickly. Ideally, you should respond to any emails or messages within 24 hours, Monday-Friday, quicker if possible. Let students know the time frame within which they can expect to hear from you.
- Grade and provide feedback on assignments quickly so that students are able to evaluate their performance and adapt as they see where their performance can and should improve. If feasible, incorporating shorter more frequent quizzes and/or tests will allow more opportunities to give relatively frequent feedback than having only one or two infrequent high stakes exams.
- You have posted your updated syllabus in Bb.
- You have posted times and directions for remote office hours.
- You are familiar with how to request support and services at support.newpaltz.edu.
- If you are doing any synchronous sessions:
- you are not relying primarily on synchronous content, but are using it to supplement your asynchronous content (FYI, in online learning, asynchronous is the “best practice”)
- your students know what system you are using (preferably Bb Collaborate or WebEx)
- you and your students have tested the system
- you and your students know the back-up plan if you, or they, have trouble connecting
- you have plans to record the synchronous session for students who cannot participate live.
- You have developed and uploaded instructional material that covers the equivalent of at least one week of course work.
- We realize that you may not have had time to get content up for the full remainder of the semester, but once you get at least a week of content ready, we strongly encourage you to work ahead so that you have the entire course ready. Recall our earlier message about Backup Plans. Someone else may have to finish your course if you become incapacitated, so the more you have ready, the better.
- Try to keep things especially basic and low stakes in your first week with remote learning to make sure you and your students can figure out where the seat belts and air masks are because the ride will probably be bumpy.
- You have checked the Accommodate system (through your faculty tab in my.newpaltz.edu) to see what accommodations students in your course may need, and you have touched base with those students to see how the move to remote learning may require changes to those accommodations.
- You have posted an announcement or sent an email to your students asking them to alert you (now, and also as things change) about issues that may impact their ability to do their coursework, such as:
- limited access to technology or internet service
- health-related problems
- You have posted Our Campus Help Desk directions for your students.
- Breathe. Take a deep breath, launch, and then revise as needed.
Addendum, March 26: It appears that many faculty were not aware of or making use of the Accommodate site. You can find this site by going to my.newpaltz.edu and scrolling down to the Disability Resource Center in the Resources navigation bar on the left. Click on that link and it will take you to the Accommodate site. If you have any students with registered disabilities, their accommodation letters will be listed there.
Some things will probably go a lot better than you expected, and some things will not go well at all. This is not going to resemble a “best practices” online launch. This will be a “triaged” launch. Do your best to promote student learning and set reasonable expectations for yourself and your students. If you communicate well and quickly, you will set yourself and your students up for the smoothest flight.