Dear Faculty: I have been peeking out from behind my Microsoft Teams screen to view the sunshine this week—believing that just maybe spring has finally arrived! Hope you are taking a moment to enjoy the beauty of the sky and the warmth of the sun—of course in between teaching, grading papers, and engaging in your research.
As we completed the last week of classes, I hope you have some satisfaction in knowing that you were able to pivot mid-semester and apply your pedagogy to remote instruction. This is an important time for reflection on what you can take from this new learning space and apply more broadly to your teaching. It is also a time to consider what you could have done differently to more fully engage students in their learning. As we all prepare for enhanced teaching opportunities in the future, I encourage you to continue your connection to our Center for Teaching and Learning, taking advantage of instructional technology workshops, the Pivotal Pedagogy events, and the online instruction Bootcamp and Teaching Effectively Online programs.
I write to you this week with some new updates and a few reminders:
- In his April 16 memo to campus, President Garimella announced the appointment of the UVMStrong Fall 2020 Advisory Committee. The committee is meeting frequently and is preparing to welcome students back in the fall, which will include developing health and safety protocols and planning for any pivots that may be necessary as the semester unfolds. The group’s most immediate work is focused on identifying a comprehensive list of issues to bring to the table, around which we will soon be establishing working groups which will draw on faculty, staff, and students for input and participation.
You can also view the President’s video message to campus for more thoughts on Fall 2020.
- ETS has been working to ensure that Blackboard servers will be able to handle heavy traffic during exam week. Please be aware that if a problem occurs with one of your exams or you have student requests to move an exam due to the number of scheduled exams in one day, you can request the use of one of the dedicated makeup exam slots on Friday May 8. To inquire about using a makeup exam slot, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- CTL is offering multiple sessions on the Blackboard Grade Center next week. If you are new to using this tool and are using it to distribute grades to students this semester, this session offers guidance on best practices. See the expanded Grade Center documentation in the ETS Knowledge Base.
- Registration is now open for “Pivotal Pedagogy: Preparing to Teach in Multiple Environments,” a new faculty development event occurring May 13 – 22. We encourage you to take advantage of the flexible participation options. This is a wonderful opportunity to create or revise courses in a supportive and collegial environment that recognizes the benefits of proactive and flexible course design. Visit the CTL website for information.
- Don't know how to choose from among Boot Camp, Teaching Effectively Online, or Pivotal Pedagogies? This [go.uvm.edu/facultytraining] handy chart summarizes the differences between the three development opportunities available to help you expand your online or remote instruction repertoire.
- Faculty Professional Development will be hosting four forums for faculty members to share and reflect on their experience transitioning to remote instruction in Spring 2020. Please check this CTL Teaching Continuity website for details.
- The Provost’s Office will be administering separate surveys to faculty and students to gather information about our shift to remote instruction. We’ll coordinate this centrally to both reduce the burden on individual units, as well as to coordinate communications at this very busy time in the semester when we need our students and colleagues to respond to many important information requests.
- If you are offering an exam on Blackboard, the Center for Teaching and Learning encourages you to review this critical information on test settings and troubleshooting student test-taking issues you may encounter during this year’s final exam period. If you haven’t done so already, also review this checklist, which will help you identify and plan for challenges ranging from student connectivity issues and time zone differences, to how to manage student accommodations within your test. If you have additional questions about Blackboard exams, please email email@example.com
- Next week, students will be receiving a reminder of the P/NP deadline (noon EDT on May 14, 2020). Your advisees may reach out to you during finals week for guidance. Comprehensive P/NP information is available on the Spring 2020 Academic Support Accommodations website.
- As you know, our students may be experiencing anxiety and stress during these times of dramatic changes to their lives and a level of uncertainty that comes with all this change. Students may be seeking support from faculty, especially with finals next week. Just a reminder that CAPS has designed a workshop to provide faculty with ways they can support students. Please consider participating in this CAPS workshop for faculty from 1-2:30 pm on Mondays through finals week. To register email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Kelly.email@example.com
- Please visit the CTL teaching continuity website regularly. New information, resources, and events are posted frequently. Among them are new resources, including surveys ready to be imported into your Blackboard course, to help you determine whether your students are ready and equipped to complete the final exam, presentation, paper, or project.
- Please consider enrolling in one of two excellent teaching online programs Summer Online Teaching Bootcamp;(a two-week, 6 hour program offered regularly in April and May); or Teaching Effectively Online for faculty seeking a more in-depth online teaching experience for fall semester (a four-week, 20 hour program beginning May 18).
Please be mindful of and present for your students as they navigate this last important week in their academic experience this semester. You are assessing the culmination of their learning, and while they are accountable for their performance, we are responsible for assuring a meaningful learning environment. Help them celebrate their success in getting through a semester filled with unanticipated challenges, while learning content that will get them through this next phase of their academic journey.
With my best wishes to you and your families,