As the Strategic Academic Redesign Team (SART) resumes activity this month, we wanted to touch base with a few updates, reminders, and resources for teaching, learning, and professional development this fall. In an effort to reduce the size of your inbox and in recognition of the distributed nature of the University’s fall planning efforts, our email communication this fall will include only periodic messages when a critical mass of pertinent updates are assembled for distribution.
As a reminder, previous digest messages are archived here and the Faculty Development Center maintains a faculty FAQ to highlight some of the most critical information from these communications. Additional information and answers to many of your important questions about University operations can be found on the Furman Focused website.
Updates and Reminders for This Week
Duke Library Open: The Duke Library is now open weekdays to students, faculty, and staff via card swipe from 10AM-4PM. We begin our regular fall hours on Tuesday, August 18th. If your PalaCard doesn’t work on the Duke Library door, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be activated.
Fall Faculty Meetings: In a message sent on Wednesday, July 29, Christopher Hutton (Faculty Chair) described a proposal for having faculty meetings while meeting the safety requirements of our community. The email solicited faculty input on plans to move meetings to a virtual format using a Zoom webinar, providing a link to a quick Qualtrics survey to be completed by Friday, August 7.
Zoom Security Updates: Starting Sept 27, 2020, all Zoom meetings are required to have either a Passcode or Waiting Room. If hosts do not want their guests to have to wait in the waiting room or enter a Passcode, they can go to Meeting Settings and choose to “embed Passcode” into the meeting URL and then set a Passcode. If hosts do not set a Passcode or enable a waiting room, a waiting room will be added to the meeting automatically. For more information, click here.
Instructional Technology Configuration: Our colleagues in ITS would like to ask that you do not unplug, move, or rearrange any classroom or shared lab instructional technology managed by Furman ITS. Each teaching station and computer lab has been carefully configured to ensure connectivity among those in-person and those who may join remotely. If you have a question about technology configurations or have a problem you need addressed, please contact email@example.com.
Promising Practices for Teaching and Learning
Moodle Platform Preparation: Because students often first check Moodle for course information, if possible, please post a syllabus or partial draft (if your complete syllabus is not available) along with all required course materials as early as possible before the beginning of your course. Because many students will obtain course materials by having those shipped to them this fall, posting this information earlier will help students understand the basic course details so that they can acquire the appropriate course materials prior to the start of the course.
Online Learning Student Readiness Survey: One tool you might utilize to gather important information for your course planning includes the Online Learning Student Readiness Survey. This quick survey could be built into your Moodle course or sent to your course rosters as a stand-along email or word processing document. Gathering this information may be particularly helpful for identifying students with extenuating circumstances (e.g., inadequate technology/internet access or located in a different time zone or country), so that you can adopt adaptive instructional practices for those students.
Protecting and Projecting our Voices: While PPE equipment can muffle the voice, classroom microphones at Furman are sensitive enough to capture even soft-spoken individuals. With that said, colleagues who study the human voice have several tips for protecting and projecting your voice in a masked, physically distanced classroom. This blog post from Elon University suggests a few measures you can take.
FurmanFlex courses provide some measure of “learner choice” that enable students and instructors multiple meaningful modalities to engage in course activities as their health status dictates. Healthy students who are not in quarantine and who are on campus are expected to attend your FurmanFlex class and participate (masked up with physical distancing). Those joining courses remotely or who are in quarantine or isolation and who are healthy enough should join synchronous sessions remotely. It is reasonable for you to share expectations like these with your students. Synchronous engagement might take many forms.
However, in some cases, it may be very difficult for students to join synchronous sessions either for a short (sudden illness) or long-term period (i.e., in a time zone that precludes participation in a synchronous session at a reasonable hour of the day). In these cases, it is prudent to prepare reasonable asynchronous options for engagement, especially for those in different time zones. One helpful practice is for your synchronous sessions to be recorded and made available in an asynchronous format for those with legitimate reasons to miss your synchronous sessions. Beyond time zone differences, students may access your course remotely from a country with internet firewall restrictions. Students located in China, for example, may not have access to some frequently used instructional platforms (i.e., Youtube.com). Working with students in these situations early in the course to ensure they can access essential course content will promote a more equitable learning experience for all students.
The SART and Jeremy
Congratulations on a successful first week of classes! Below is today’s edition of a series of fall digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman as we journey together through FurmanFlex and online instruction.
As a reminder, our SART digests will be periodic this fall, and only disseminated when a critical mass of pertinent information is available. We have segmented today’s message into categories based on related information, so that you might focus on those areas most critical to you. Previous digest messages are archived here, and the Faculty Development Center maintains a faculty FAQ to highlight the most relevant information from these communications.
Creating Zoom Course Meetings: If you are utilizing Zoom for your courses, it is helpful to create one recurring Zoom meeting for each of your remote or FurmanFlex courses instead of creating separate meetings for each course session. Please remember to post information about how to join your course Zoom room in your online learning platform (e.g. Moodle). For a quick guide on scheduling a Zoom meeting and inviting participants from our colleagues at UC-Boulder, see here.
Library Course Reserves: Please note that, while the library will work with you to place materials on reserve for your courses, we do not have a mechanism to fully sanitize physical reserves. Protocols have been developed for the use of such materials, but for the health and safety of patrons and staff, you are encouraged to consider utilizing digital course materials if at all possible. Many textbook companies will work with you to make supplemental content available digitally.
Remote Learners, Course Access, and Sensitive Material: This fall, you may have students accessing your course remotely from a country with internet firewall restrictions or strict policies about certain content. Students located in China, for example, may not have access to frequently used instructional platforms (i.e., Youtube.com), and recent laws in the country have made it easier for officials to prosecute individuals for crimes against the state for expressing certain opinions and perspectives. Working with students in these situations early in your course (see several thoughts and recommendations here) to ensure they can access essential course content in such a way that fosters equivalent learning outcomes in a safe and secure fashion is advisable. For several ideas about how to protect course content and support student learning, please see question II.14 here.
Classroom Space Abbreviations: As you teach and advise students this semester, this list of non-traditional classroom space abbreviations may come in handy.
Preparing for the Unexpected: Although Furman has implemented thorough and strict health and safety guidelines this fall, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with procedures to follow in the case you find yourself ill. You might consider the following to prepare for such an event:
Urgent Classroom & Technology Needs: As a reminder, in the first few weeks of classes, you should reach out to the appropriate contact if you have an urgent instructional or classroom need (see response I.23 here for a full list of direct contacts).
Classroom Speakers and Microphones: As you receive feedback from students about their experiences in your FurmanFlex classroom, please inform our colleagues in ITS (firstname.lastname@example.org) if your in-person or remote students are having trouble connecting to classroom technology or hearing you or in-person students. The remote-ready technology recently installed in classrooms may need to be adjusted to accommodate your classroom set-up and activities. On a related note: some faculty report being able to hear other courses during their Zoom meetings as roommates join different classes simultaneously from their residence hall rooms. Where possible, suggest remote learners use headphones to prevent distractions and protect classroom privacy.
Eating/Drinking the Classroom: Please note new guidance on the Furman Focused website that outlines policies around eating and drinking in classrooms. In particular, for anyone needing to drink water during class, they must use a personal bottle with a sealed lid and a self-contained “straw” for drinking the liquid by vacuum rather than “pouring” into the mouth.
Moving Classroom Furniture & Technology: Please do not move furniture or teaching station technology in classrooms. We understand the importance of rearranging classroom setups in order to align with pedagogical objectives. However, Facilities Services is arranging and marking furniture in ways that ensure physical distancing requirements are met for all courses using that space, and ITS has configured our technology to ensure access for remote learners.
Classroom Sanitation Procedures: Students and professors should wipe down surfaces in their immediate workspace each time they arrive in a classroom and again when they leave. Please send a message to Workorder Request if you find that a classroom does not have a trash can or if you need to request additional cleaning supplies for your classroom.
Although the first week of classes this fall has required incredible patience and flexibility, our community has come together with great effort and energy to ensure we can achieve our educational mission while maintaining health and safety. If you’ve seen someone go above and beyond to support our community this week, we encourage you to submit a Furman salute to celebrate the many daily acts of kindness and care that make Furman special.
The SART and Jeremy
A hearty congratulations on your hard work over the first two weeks of the semester!
Today’s SART digest message is segmented into categories based on related information, so that you might focus on those areas most critical to you. Previous digest messages are archived here, and the Faculty Development Center maintains a faculty FAQ to highlight the most relevant information from these communications.
Notes of Interest to All Faculty
Student Time Accommodations: Please note that time accommodations are not granted for “X amount of minutes” but rather “X amount of time beyond that given to all students.” A student with a time accommodation will need additional time to demonstrate the same level of achievement/knowledge as can be demonstrated by classmates in the time allocated.
· For example, you write an online quiz to take 15 minutes, but plan to give the entire class 45 minutes to complete it. Because you are allowing other students to use as much as 45 minutes to complete the test, that same 45 minutes may not be adequate for a student with a time accommodation. Extra time should be assigned in this case.
· You might refer to the 2010 OCR letter to Lewis and Clark College (OCR Reference #10092092). In this case, OCR ruled that the student in the case must be provided additional time on top of what the class as a whole was provided—even if the instructor felt that the exam was written to be completed in a certain amount of time, or even if the instructor “built in” additional time for all students.
FurmanFlex and Online Instruction Back-Up Planning: As we experienced this past week, despite the many benefits of flexible instructional technology, there may be occasions when the platforms we rely on are not available. In order to prepare for such circumstances, it is helpful to:
· Have a back-up online platform set up for emergency situations. This might be a Microsoft Teams channel, a shared Box document, or a Moodle discussion forum where you could post alternative instructions or assignments in the event you can’t gather synchronously.
· Communicate your back-up plan/platform to your students in advance so they know what to do if your preferred method of engagement is not working properly. This could be as simple as “always check Moodle Announcements first for further instruction”.
· Post the full details about how students might join your course video conferencing sessions in a ready-available repository for students. If you are using Zoom, this includes not only the direct URL link, but also the Meeting ID and call-in phone number.
FurmanFlex & Online Learning Virtual Watercooler Conversation: Join the FDC and your colleagues next Thursday, September 3rd from 4-5pm for informal conversation around the (virtual) water cooler about your experiences facilitating learning through online and FurmanFlex instruction. This is an opportunity to share both rewarding and challenging teaching situations we’ve faced in our new modes of instruction, ask questions, brainstorm solutions, and provide moral support for each other. Please mark your calendars and join us using this Zoom link (additional access information here).
FurmanFlex Instruction Promising Practices
Crowd-sourcing Your FurmanFlex Teaching Hacks: Members of our community have invested heavily in pedagogical innovation to address one of the most vexing aspects of FurmanFlex instruction – building meaningful community and connections among face-to-face (F2F) and remote learners. We are hearing from many of you about what is working well in your classrooms so far, including the six strategies below:
· Utilize asynchronous activities (discussion forums, Perusall annotations, small group tasks) as a pre-text for synchronous activities and discussions. Melinda Menzer (English) uses Perusall to facilitate “productive conversation about a difficult text [so that] the people off campus have the same opportunities to contribute as the people on campus.” Geoffrey Habron (EESS) has taken this further, by having students utilize Perusall to annotate and discuss documents in real-time in the synchronous classroom.
· Use Zoom “Liaisons” in the F2F classroom – students who volunteer are asked to monitor the chat, elicit feedback/comments from remote learners, and relay information back to those joining virtually.
· Melinda Dukes (Psychology) notes that rotating note-taking responsibilities for each class session among both F2F and remote students has helped build a shared sense of responsibility for peer learning and support.
· Using one virtual platform for collaborative work during synchronous sessions (Padlet, Box document, Google document) allows you to mix groups of F2F and remote students to work together in the same platform on group activities. This enables you to monitor group progress without interrupting conversation. Amy Jonason (Sociology) likes that with a platform like Padlet, “students can see their peers’ contributions added in real time. It is easy to set up”, she added, “and students don’t have to log into anything to use it.”
· Many colleagues are having success using the Zoom breakout room feature to facilitate live interaction among F2F and remote learners. Kevin Treu (Computer Science) “drops in” on breakout groups to provide individual guidance and direction and troubleshoot challenges. Randy Hutchinson (Health Sciences) has used these groups as an opportunity to guide students to identify critical insights that they are asked to relay back to the large group to move discussion forward. For step-by-step instructions on how to orchestrate these mixed groups, see the “Integrating F2F and Remote Students” tab here.
· If you are comfortable having both your F2F and remote learners logged into your video conferencing platform, use the live chat or polling features to have students respond to questions, raise ideas, or analyze concepts – providing an opportunity for all students to engage in the same space while encouraging thoughtful review of the comments of others.
Finally, shifting mental models of the classroom and teaching can help create more engagement between remote and F2F learners. This recent blog with accompanying video includes tips for flipping your mindset and building community in your FurmanFlex course.
Although these first couple of weeks of classes have required incredible patience and flexibility, our community has come together with great effort and energy to ensure we can achieve our educational mission while maintaining health and safety. If you’ve seen someone go above and beyond to support our community this week, we encourage you to submit a Furman salute to celebrate the many daily acts of kindness and care that make Furman special.
Our hats go off to you for continuing to meet the challenges of FurmanFlex and online learning with care and innovation. We hope the information below provides useful updates and resources to support your teaching this semester. Previous digest messages are archived here, and the Faculty Development Center maintains a faculty FAQ to highlight the most relevant information from these communications.
Notes of Interest This Week
Supporting the Whole Student: When students experience distress, worry, and anxiety, creating supportive and safe spaces for learning is essential in our role as educators. Drawing from experts in trauma-informed pedagogy, you might find this set of suggestions helpful as you work to best support our students and their learning endeavors.
Assessment Adaptations: It isn’t always possible or pedagogically appropriate to replicate an assessment strategy used in the face-to-face classroom for remote virtual environments. At this point in the semester, you are likely gearing up for major exams and projects, which provide an opportunity to consider how you might measure students’ ability to comprehend, evaluate, or analyze your course content with applied or authentic assessment strategies. Some guidance for FurmanFlex and Online Assessment (with links to additional resources) is available on the FDC’s website.
Upcoming Student Arrival and Due Dates: Please remember that sophomores and juniors will move into their campus housing assignments between Friday September 11 and Sunday September 13. Many students will need to travel before those dates to make it to campus at their scheduled time. We ask you keep this situation in mind when determining assignment and exam due dates.
Online Video Engagement Flexibility: The Student Office for Accessibility Resources reminds us that many students learning from home are facing unique challenges. Zoom fatigue is real, and students experience it just like we do! In addition, there are students with conditions that may cause them to frequently look away from the screen, students who may need to turn off their video, and students who may need to quickly leave the “class” to manage their medical condition. We encourage you to maintain flexibility in your expectations for video conference engagement. If you have questions about why a student may not be able to stay seated in front of a live video feed with complete visual or auditory focus, please reach out to email@example.com. To support your students learning from home, you might share these strategies with your students.
Zoom Fatigue: Speaking of Zoom fatigue, you might be feeling it too! Consider these eight simple strategies to reduce the drain of Zoom meetings. Fun fact – just in three days this week (Mon-Wed), the Furman community hosted 3,487 Zoom meetings.
Flipping Class with Mini Lectures: With many faculty adopting a flipped classroom model for FurmanFlex or online instruction this fall, one central design strategy is important to remember– short “mini” video lectures engage students more effectively than the longer versions many of us are accustomed to. Further, there is growing evidence that transforming course content into shorter, more digestible components in this way can support more inclusive learning. Whether you are teaching an online course or want to utilize your synchronous course interactions for more active learning elements, there are a variety of methods you might use to adapt your lecture content for a digital format.
FurmanFlex Hacks: Last week we shared with you several crowd-sourced suggestions for integrating your remote and face-to-face students. Although we eagerly anticipate the arrival of our sophomores and juniors in a few days, it is likely most of you will continue to instruct split courses, with some students remotely and some in the physical classroom. The FDC has assembled some of your integration “hacks”, as well as several ideas to address some common FurmanFlex challenges to support continued hybrid learning this fall.
Online Mental Health Support: The Furman Counseling Center recently launched a new set of online tools and services available to students, staff, and faculty to support mental health and wellness. TAOConnect replaces previous support provided by Well Track, is available 24-hrs a day, and is free!
By now, many of you may be tiring of the stationary nature of FurmanFlex and online instruction. Even if just for short breaks, we hope you will take advantage of our beautiful campus for physical activity. Although certain visitors are not currently allowed on campus, faculty and staff and their families are welcome to utilize campus outdoor spaces while adhering to community health protocols. Additionally, for those that need that daily caffeine fix, faculty and staff may now purchase food and beverages at the Barnes & Noble Café, which opened on September 1st!
The SART & Jeremy
Thank you for your continued teaching adaptability and care for students as we wrap up our fifth week of instruction. It’s been a time of transition as we welcomed many sophomores and juniors back to campus, and the situational factors of teaching may have changed for some colleagues: you may have returned to the physical classroom in one of your classes only to have increased numbers of students participating remotely in another course. We hope you have found some time and space to take care of yourself as we make our way toward mid-term!
As we get further into the semester, several colleagues have shared this recent Inside Higher Ed article on COVID-19’s impact on faculty and staff in higher education. It includes ideas for how to recognize the three components of burnout (exhaustion, depersonalization, and feelings of inefficacy), considering burnout as a systemic (rather than individual) issue, and some ideas for reframing tenure and promotion guidelines (by including a pandemic impact statement in materials, for example).
Previous digest messages are archived here, and the Faculty Development Center maintains a faculty FAQ to highlight the most relevant information from these communications.
Remote Learner Status: Faculty have raised several questions recently about determining which students are remote learners, which should be present in face-to-face classrooms, and policies regarding students switching between the two. Consult your current course rosters to determine which students are permanently remote. All other temporary remote statuses will be communicated via email on an individual basis. If you have questions or concerns about students’ remote status, please email Tracy Carner (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Here are the possible categories for remote learners:
· Remote Only Learner: Permanent status noted on roster and communicated by email at the start of the term.
· Health Notice: A student may be restricted to remote learning via a health notice. You will receive a second health notice indicating they have been CLEARED to return to face-to-face instruction. Until you receive the second notice, you should assume they will be participating remotely.
· Remote Temporary: A student may be restricted to being a remote learner from home due to non-health related circumstances. The date that they may return to face-to-face instruction will be listed in email.
· Independent Student Requests: Students may ask faculty to participate remotely for some, or all, of their class sessions while living on campus for other reasons. Whether these unique requests are granted is at the discretion of each instructor. Students seeking to be a permanent remote student for all courses should request official approval from the Associate Academic Dean Kyle Longest, as outlined in our current protocols.
Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) Program: With limitations on group and social interaction, some students may be struggling with self-directed learning habits. Please continue to suggest Furman’s new Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) program . Students can sign up for a session here. If their course is not currently offered, students may submit a request form here. Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.
Spring 2020 Remote Transition Survey: In spring 2020, the Faculty Development Center conducted a four-week longitudinal survey for faculty focused on how our liberal arts community made the quick shift to remote learning and faculty confidence in that process. In reviewing this information, we’ve identified 6 key take-away messages that we hope help inform your current instructional practice.
Faculty Input Requested: To better understand how our liberal arts community has made the shift to multimodal learning, the FDC invites all faculty to share your experience with us. As we continue to explore how our teaching identities intersect with the choices we are making in transitioning our courses to new-to-us modalities this fall, your participation in this research would be appreciated. Please contribute your perspective with this short, seven question survey that should take you no more than 10 minutes to complete! Information will be collected at three points this semester.
Video Conferencing Pros: By now, many of you are adept at facilitating learning via video conferencing platforms and are experimenting with new ways to enliven or enhance your FurmanFlex instructional practices. Professor of Classics Chris Blackwell has shared these tips for utilizing multiple devices to facilitate FurmanFlex instruction through Zoom, and you might enjoy experimenting with these five strategies to enliven your synchronous video sessions.
Talking Teaching Series: Please consider participating in this new series of informal discussions sponsored by the FDC this fall. These recurring events focused on teaching-related topics are designed to facilitate the sharing of ideas around both long-standing and newly emerging pedagogical challenges. For each conversation, a small group of discussants (1-4) will bring a short set of questions, personal examples, or an idea to spark the collective exchange of ideas around a central topic. Please contact an FDC staff member (FDC@furman.edu) or submit this brief interest form if you’ve got an idea you’d like to discuss and are willing to facilitate conversation.
Flipped Classroom Essentials: The flipped classroom model is gaining renewed interest among many faculty this fall due to FurmanFlex or online instruction. As the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching highlights, flipped learning approaches require careful attention to four core strategies for success (below). For suggestions in each of these categories, see here.
1. Engaging and appropriately segmented content exposure prior to class with clear mechanisms for obtaining just-in-time support;
2. Creative incentives for students to prepare for class and explore material;
3. Consistent mechanisms to assess student understanding and preparation prior to class;
4. In-class exercises focused on properly scaffolded higher-level cognitive application.
During the first few weeks of the semester, some of your courses may have been comprised of more remote learners than those face-to-face (F2F), requiring particular attention to your F2F learners so that they felt included, engaged, and invested in the course. Now with the majority of our students back on campus, the dynamics in your classman may have shifted. Over the next few weeks, please check in with your remote learners in particular, soliciting feedback about their learning experiences, so that you can ensure that they remain engaged and included in your course activities. Keep in mind some of these student integration “hacks”, as well as these ideas to address some common FurmanFlex challenges as you co-create a cohesive learning experience with your students.
The SART & Jeremy
We have officially reached the mid-point in the semester, a monumental accomplishment given the circumstances our community has navigated over the past seven weeks. It’s not the LDOC yet, but we hope you take some time to celebrate the half-way mark! (MDOC?)
Among the reasons to celebrate this accomplishment, recent feedback from several student groups, including the Student Government Association, indicate high satisfaction with course learning experiences this fall, made possible by your inventive and flexible instruction.
Please find below several notifications of interest from the Strategic Academic Redesign Team. Previous digest messages are archived here, and the Faculty Development Center maintains a faculty FAQ to highlight the most relevant information from these communications.
Mid-Semester Feedback: The half-way point in the semester provides an opportunity to solicit early course feedback from your students. If you’d like to consider a more formal mid-semester feedback process, find out more about the Small-Group Instructional Feedback process offered by the FDC. You could also utilize the Moodle Feedback feature to employ the simple KQS Feedback approach – Keep Doing, Quit Doing, and Start Doing. Consider posing the following two questions to your course participants:
· What could I as the instructor keep doing, quit doing, and start doing to help you learn?
· What can you as a student keep doing, quit doing, and start doing to promote your learning?
Building Access: If you are having trouble accessing buildings or rooms on campus via ID card swipe, please email email@example.com.
Fostering Peer-to-Peer Interaction: Despite the value of peer-to-peer learning in your courses, current practices around classroom sanitation and physical distancing can reduce opportunities before or after class for students to build the community needed for such learning. Fostering the social interaction that allows students to connect informally requires consciously building “outside spaces” for them to connect. If you haven’t already, you might consider:
Because such student interactions may rely on time management and study skills, sharing the many study tips and resources developed by the Center for Academic Success may help your students improve their self-directed peer learning habits. Now is also a good time to remind your students of the new Peer-Assisted Learning program.
Alternative Assessment Practices: Are you looking for ways to better evaluate student learning in online or hybrid environments while minimizing academic integrity violations? There are a number of ways one might design course assessments that capture mastery of material that are essentially impossible to complete by duplicating existing material or utilizing someone else’s work. Several alternative and applied options exist, like using open-book exams, that ask students to demonstrate learning through critical and rigorous effort. Even content that is difficult to assess like mastery of vocabulary, for example, can be adapted with authentic assessment approaches. Minor changes to your assessment practices, like these seven tips, can both support academic integrity and effectively assess student learning.
Test Taking Accommodations: As you administer mid-term examinations, please keep your students with accommodations in mind as you design these assessments for new online or hybrid spaces. Several test-taking accommodation services are provided by SOAR. Please don’t hesitate to contact SOAR if you have any questions on how to provide accommodations in your new instructional format.
Affordable Learning Webinars: PASCAL will be hosting two Affordable Learning webinars during Open Education Week (October 19-26). The first will be an Introduction to Open Educational Resources (OER) and the second will be on Teaching with Open Pedagogy. These webinars will be open to all faculty at any PASCAL member institution (Furman is a member). More information and registration links are available here.
Supporting the Whole Student: Although student feedback about courses has been quite positive this fall, students are also expressing high levels of stress, fatigue, and isolation. When students experience distress, worry, and anxiety, creating supportive and safe spaces for learning is essential in our role as educators. Drawing from experts in trauma-informed pedagogy, we want to remind you of this set of suggestions as you work to best support our students and their learning endeavors throughout the remainder of the semester.
With crisp fall mornings setting in, please remember that faculty, staff and their families are welcome to utilize campus outdoor spaces while adhering to community health protocols. Because our campus is not yet open to the broader community, you are encouraged to bring your Furman ID if you plan to take advantage of our beautiful campus. Your understanding is appreciated as Furman Police may ask to confirm your University affiliation.
Finally, despite the penchant for perfectionism in academia, if ‘meh’ is good enough for you right now, this song might be for you.
We’ve received several inquiries about best practices for administering exams online, including ways to promote academic integrity as well as how to address potential exam disruptions due to internet connectivity issues.
Promoting Academic Integrity
In pre-COVID times it would not be unusual for students to gather directly after a face-to-face test to compare notes or commiserate. In the age of online testing, this standard student protocol can become problematic.
If you are using Moodle to administer examinations, consider modifying and including one of the sample statements below to provide students with clarity about your integrity protocol expectations.
You could require students to provide a confirmation that they have abided by integrity policies by including one of the statements below in the exam (for each page of questions, and/or as a question at the middle or conclusion of the exam). Or, you might ask students to type a statement, followed by their name, in a blank essay box indicating that the work being submitted is their own and has been completed without unauthorized aid: “On my honor, I have neither given nor received aid completing this test.”
If you are interested in learning more about Moodle options for assessment, several tutorials are available on the FDC website here, in addition to a number of resources and suggestions for adapting your assessment practices for hybrid and online settings. To learn more about how to use the Moodle Quiz feature for final examinations, join our colleagues Jean Childress and Andrew Markovic on October 12th from 1:30-2:30 PM for a Moodle Quiz/Testing workshop. Registration is available here.
Handling Internet Disruptions
Even under the best of circumstances, unexpected internet disruptions can occur. Please consider communicating an “Internet Disruption Plan of Action” to your students before any online timed exam to minimize stress for you and your students. This might include:
Despite our efforts to support student integrity, violations may arise. Please remember to consult the Academic Integrity Violations Procedures document (link here) and/or contact the Office of the Associate Academic Dean should you have questions about your students’ academic honesty.
With hope that this mid-term season brings you joy in all your students are learning,
The SART & Jeremy
Please find below several notifications of interest from the Strategic Academic Redesign Team. Previous digest messages are archived here, and the Faculty Development Center maintains a faculty FAQ to highlight the most relevant information from these communications.
Important Updates & Upcoming Opportunities
Build Your Own Breaks (BYOB) & Instructional Variety: With academic calendar adjustments that limit official breaks to prevent extended travel, you might consider opportunities to build your own breaks/breathing room for you and your students in your courses by diversifying your instructional practice. Some colleagues have used the following strategies:
Plan an active asynchronous course activity that provides an opportunity for students to reflect and share ideas, deepen their thinking, or compose their thoughts to replace one of your synchronous course meetings.
Substitute a synchronous session for a “writing and/or research day” for students working on culminating projects.
Substitute a synchronous session with short small-group consultations around a major project, paper, or in preparation for an exam. These informal interactions with your students not only help build strong relationships, but also provide much-needed breathing room to allow you and your students to engage more deeply in the material and to recover from the semester’s rapid pace.
Timed Online Assessments – A Lesson Learned: With midterms wrapping up, many of you are sharing your experience giving online assessments this fall. We’ve consistently heard feedback from students and faculty alike that online exams tend to take longer to complete than the same exam given in-person. This is especially the case for students taking the exam on a device with a small screen (requiring additional time for scrolling and loading). As you consider online assessments for the rest of the term, one way to determine how long an exam might take students to complete online is to take it first yourself in the digital platform. Once you’ve determined how long it should take someone who knows all the answers, if you plan to impose a time limit on the assessment, a general rule of thumb is to triple the time it took you to complete.
Official Student Health Notices: As a reminder, a new health notice being used this fall is carefully crafted to provide instructors with pertinent information about whether a student can be expected to attend in-person classes. For detailed information about how to interpret these new notices, please see this scenario-based document. Health Notices are sent for all students and their high-risk contacts who have been processed by the Earle Student Health Center or who have provided documentation to the Associate Academic Dean’s office. Students who have been tested through the University’s random testing and who show no signs of illness are permitted to attend in-person classes. If a student reports a health concern or a need to be absent from your course and you haven’t received a health notification, please contact Tracy Carner or raise a flag in Success@Furman.
Asymptomatic Faculty Testing and Quarantine/Isolation: Although faculty and staff are not included in random testing procedures at this time, should you elect to be tested for the virus on your own, but are not exhibiting symptoms and have not been informed of exposure to someone who has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, you are not expected to isolate and may continue in-person instruction.
Temporary Remote Students: If a student reports that they have been asked to leave campus or have been restricted to remote-only learning temporarily, and you have not received a health or other notice confirming this, please feel free to reach out to Tracy Carner to verify.
Preparing for the Election: As many of us experienced during the 2016 election, our students, the classroom environment, and the content that we teach are not separate from broader social events and context. Whether you teach content well-aligned with issues most salient in the upcoming election, you might consider how to address the potential impact of the election in your classroom. Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching offers several ideas here, The New York Times has shared these 11 ways to engage students, or you may find helpful resources in this “day after” guide. Four considerations of note include:
Facilitating Difficult Dialogue and Respectful Disagreement – Creating an environment where students feel comfortable expressing a wide range of perspectives and opinions inevitably will reveal disagreements. What does respectful discourse look like, and what conditions need to be met in order for it to happen? It may be time to reinforce classroom norms and expectations with your students. Project Pericles offers a free deliberative dialogue discussion guide.
Freedom of Expression and the First Amendment – Elections present ample opportunities to discuss free speech and freedom of expression in your classroom. Although Furman guarantees student freedom of expression, there are limits to free expression in the classroom when there is a “material and substantial disruption” to class or school activities or when the form of expression defames, threatens, or incites violence. You might reference Furman’s classroom disruption policy with your students.
Media & Information Literacy – The plethora of information sources available today via any number of digital platforms provides rich ground for discussions about media and information literacy. How do students evaluate the credibility and reliability of the information they consume pre- and post-election? How might these skills be useful in and outside of the classroom? These resources on evaluating sources from the Duke Library may come in handy.
Reflective Practice – Creating space for students to reflect on and process the significance of the moment both personally and as a member of your classroom community might provide a valuable outlet for your students to make sense of election results and make connections to the central concepts/content of your course. Consider guidance in this resource on implementing reflection in your academic courses.
Virtual Convocation & Early Career Webinar Series – Associated Colleges of the South: Given current travel restrictions and limitations on in-person events on campus, The Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) is hosting two series of virtual webinars developed by members across the association:
From global ethics, to women’s suffrage, to Arabic in antebellum America, the virtual Convocation Series is open to all students, faculty and staff at member institutions. Follow this link for more information about upcoming events and to access webinar registration links.
From anti-fungal drug resistance to health justice and daycare, the virtual Early Career Series is designed for faculty colleagues to share research initiatives and scholarly insight. Follow this link for more information about upcoming events and to access webinar registration links.
Returning to campus this fall has required each of us to make adjustments and sacrifices to maintain the safety and wellbeing of our community. Remaining committed to the health and safety protocols embedded in the Paladin Promise, our student body has overwhelmingly demonstrated compliance with protocols that allow us to maintain on-campus instruction. Most recently, students have shown great cooperation with new asymptomatic random testing procedures. We are grateful for the shared commitment and investment demonstrated by our students, and we encourage you to celebrate their contributions to keep our community safe.
Last Day of Classes (November 20) and Exam Policies: We are only a few weeks away from the final week of classes! As a reminder, please note the following:
Preparing for Final Exams:
Spring Course Rosters: Please note that course rosters for spring classes are fluid at this point in the semester. Because the University does not yet have a final count of how many students plan to attend classes remotely or live on campus in the spring, these rosters will not be completely accurate until after important housing deadlines later this semester. Please keep this in mind when planning for your spring courses. Rosters are likely to change.
Extended Library Hours: As we approach the last few weeks of classes, beginning this past Tuesday (Oct. 27th), the Duke Library has extended evening hours for the remainder of the semester. From Tuesday – Thursday, the library is now open from 8 a.m. – Midnight. Hours for Friday-Monday remain the same.
Campus leaders have reminded us this week of our shared community and responsibility to each other as the nation prepares for elections next Tuesday. As you consider if and how election-related issues connect to your courses, several promising practices are available in the resources shared recently:
Thank you for finding opportunities to model respect, civil discourse, and productive critical dialogue, however you choose to engage your students.
With hope that there’s a little candy-corn infused fun in your Halloween weekend,
Time-Limited Online Final Exams: To adjust to FurmanFlex instruction, many instructors are using Moodle features to set time limits on online exams. As you prepare for your final exams, it is acceptable to limit your final exam to an appropriate time window. You are not required to give students the full exam period to complete the final assessment. As a reminder, faculty who conclude their courses with an asynchronous final exam or culminating project should set the due date for that assignment during the final exam period (e.g., by 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 2 for a MWF 8:00 a.m. class), rather than the final week of classes or the week prior to the beginning of final exams. If you plan to give a timed final exam, you must work with any student who has accommodations to adjust the time allotment. For more information about how to vary online examination time by student in Moodle, see the Moodle section here.
Furman Libraries – Exams and Winter Break: You can find hours for all of the Furman Libraries on our website. Please note the following:
Community Engaged Learning Transitions: With the exciting recent announcement about Furman’s Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities, the long-standing history of community-engaged learning and scholarship continues at Furman through new integrated partnerships. To read more about how this work is now integrated into the Shi Institute, we encourage you to take a look at this FAQ document.
Rubik’s Cube Challenge – An Expert Blindspot Learning Adventure: Nervous about those holiday dinner-table conversations this year? Looking for a fun, informal, and educational distraction over the break? Join colleagues from Furman and Denison University (Ohio) for a five-week cross-institutional learning challenge. Our recent experience with pandemic teaching has thrust us into novel learning environments and provided an opportunity to “learn anew” the magic of our teaching and learning craft. One common challenge of expert instructors is understanding the learning needs of novice students, known as an expert blind spot. In this challenge, participants will learn how to solve the Rubik’s Cube with a group of colleagues and gain insight about the learning (and teaching) process. The Faculty Development Center will provide the cube, as well as weekly tips, strategies, and reflection and discussion prompts shared via an online discussion platform. Already know how to solve the cube? You can still participate by selecting a new skill/concept challenge and sharing your adventure with the group! For more detail about the challenge or to sign up, please visit here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Design with Flex in Mind (DFxM) Planning Course: The FDC welcomes your participation in the self-paced course redesign planning process designed to help you further develop and/or adapt your courses for social distancing and in-person attendance. This structured process will help you think through your courses efficiently and with equity in mind. Register by signing up here. Faculty who registered for the course last fall still have access and are welcome to work through the module again as you prepare for the spring.
FurmanFlex – What’s Worked and What Hasn’t: Grand View University professor and educational developer Kevin Gannon recently reflected on lessons learned about HyFlex instruction from the fall semester in this Chronicle of Higher Education article. As the semester comes to a close, now is an ideal time to reflect on your own FurmanFlex victories and challenges over the past 12 weeks. Would you be willing to share those with our community to enhance our collective learning and practice? Please consider sharing what’s worked and what hasn’t for you in the Moodle FDC Commons FurmanFlex Watercooler Forum. If you don’t currently have access to the Moodle site and would like to request it, please email email@example.com.
Many national and international societies are hosting virtual conferences this week, which means many of us are attending as our schedules allow (rather than blocking out time for travel or cancelling/modifying classes to an asynchronous format). Paradoxically, the ability to be in two (or more) places at once virtually may lead us to feel even more taxed. You may find Rebecca Pope-Ruark’s April Inside Higher Education piece about combatting burnout (link here) a useful review about the need for self-care. Especially now, in the flurry of the end of a challenging semester, reeling yourself in from “purpose drift” is crucial. Perhaps the upcoming break will provide you an opportunity to reflect on the following questions (from the article):
Additionally, you might consider asking where you could trim engagement in areas that don’t align with your core values and purpose and what you are most looking forward to during the winter break!
We hope your Friday the 13th is still better than Monday the whatever 🙂
Wednesday, December 2
Happy first day of finals – an important mile-marker in our fall 2020 journey! Please find below several notifications of interest from the Strategic Academic Redesign Team. Previous digest messages are archived here, and the Faculty Development Center maintains a faculty FAQ to highlight the most relevant information from these communications.
A note on Incomplete Grades: Given the circumstances of this semester, students may be requesting or considering taking an Incomplete (“I”) in your course, or you may be considering offering one. We present some information and recommendations here, to help guide you through this potential path.
Preparing for Summer 2021 Undergraduate Research: As the Office of Undergraduate Research prepares to accept applications for the summer 2021 Research Fellow program, you may be thinking ahead about your summer projects. In your planning, you might consider watching a recent inter-institutional webinar about how the pandemic improved undergraduate research mentorship practices, highlighting many adaptive strategies and “lessons learned” from Furman and Wofford colleagues who have supported recent projects. The webinar, and other resources, are available here.
Remote-Ready Tech Survey: The Library and Information Technology Committee endeavors to assess faculty satisfaction with remote-ready technologies in campus classrooms. Please consider responding to the questionnaire here.
Rubik’s Cube Challenge – An Expert Blindspot Learning Adventure: The FDC invites you to join colleagues from Furman and Denison University (Ohio) for a six-week (Dec 7 – Jan 14) cross-institutional learning challenge. Participants will learn how to solve the Rubik’s Cube individually over the break and then reflect on the learning (and teaching) process in community in early January. The Faculty Development Center will provide the cube, as well as weekly tips, strategies, and reflection and discussion prompts shared via an online discussion platform. For more information, or to register, see here.
Parting Note – A Well-Deserved Rest
We hope you find multiple opportunities to relax your body and mind over the next few weeks in an effort to rebuild your reserves. You might first play a quick game of Tired Teacher Bingo to see how you score at the end of the year!
With space to think and reflect, you might enjoy a podcast or two from the Teaching in Higher Ed series. With dozens of topics to choose from – ranging from authentic assessments and equity in STEM to transformative inclusion – these free podcasts are perfect while jogging, baking, or traveling during the holiday season. Or, if you’d like something a little more narrative, you might try Murder, Etc. (set in our Greenville in 1975); if you’re hooked on Season 4 of The Crown you might try Noble Blood; or, if you haven’t had enough of virus learning, try this episode of Revisionist History.
It’s been a full semester, and we want to acknowledge our collective extraordinary effort, creativity, and dedication to our students and each other during the last challenging four + months. May the next few weeks include your perfect blend of reflection, respite, and rejuvenation!