Spring 2020 SART Digest Archives

Friday, March 13

Dear faculty colleagues,

Although we recognize the challenges faced by our transition to remote learning, we are optimistic that this situation provides each of us an opportunity to model creativity, ingenuity, and resiliency. 

In this unprecedented situation both the learning experiences we offer and our approaches to teaching will need to be adapted. Although we recognize the desire to jump into logistical planning, our hope is that over the next week of preparation, we can approach this process holistically. We have articulated a theory of action (see graphic attached) to guide this process. This theory recognizes that our most effective and innovative approaches to this challenge will emerge at the intersection of your agency, identity, and course objectives with the most appropriate remote learning tools that elevate those unique contributions. We all are optimistic that this will allow us to work with each other and with students from the mindset of flexibility and fairness in the face of uncertainty.

To provide leadership during this time, our colleagues in the office of Academic Affairs have created a Strategic Academic Redesign Team (SART), comprised of the Dean of Faculty; divisional faculty liaisons; the faculty chair; and leadership from the library, Faculty Development Center (FDC), Center for Academic Support (CAS), and Student Office of Accessibility Resources (SOAR). The group meets daily and will provide all faculty with updates each afternoon in the form of an email digest. This is in addition to the ongoing daily meetings of the University Emergency Management team. Furman faculty are already adaptable, resilient, and student-centered – three traits that will help us to be successful in this process.

Key Information for Today

  • Furman updates information related to the COVID-19 outbreak on the web.
  • Other than next week’s extension to Spring Break, the University Calendar will remain in place. The University has announced that teaching will not happen on campus through the week of 3/23-3/27/2020. No decision has been made beyond that period.
  • Faculty are encouraged to carefully consider the redesign of their courses, which may result in a combination of different approaches (see the section on course continuity planning and training below). If your course requires that students participate in synchronous (online) meetings, they should take place during the regular meeting times for the course so that students are not required to be in two virtual classes at the same time.
  • Be kind. Faculty need to consider that students are going to be dealing with many issues that we might not easily anticipate in terms of demands/expectations, availability, and other stressors.
  • Consider learning about your students’ previous experience with remote learning and their personal situation. The FDC has created a remote learning student readiness survey for this purpose that you can access here.
  • Because spring break has been extended through 3/22/2020, deadlines should be extended for work that was going to be due during the week of 3/16/2020.
  • Except in special circumstances handled on a case-by-case basis by the Office of Student Life, students will not be on campus before 3/29/20.
  • We are working with staff in the CAS, SOAR, and others in order to provide academic support for all students through this transition.

Course Continuity Planning and Scheduled Training

Information and resources for the remote learning transition will be posted and continually updated on the FDC website. A comprehensive list of course redesign and remote learning workshops is posted online here and a Faculty FAQ will be added shortly that will evolve daily based on your most pressing questions.

We encourage you to consider using the Course Continuity Planning Tool (available here) to think about course design questions that will guide the transition of your courses. We hope this can serve as a useful starting place to revise your courses and materials. Some important points to consider early in the process include revisions to your course syllabi and attendance policies, assignment adaptations, and your assessment policies. Keep in mind that, at this point, it is possible that students and faculty may return to campus before the end of the semester. We encourage you to collaborate with your colleagues to develop online materials and experiences for students.

Lines of Communication

In order to facilitate efficient and clear information sharing, Department Chairs will work with their department faculty to determine strategies and needs both in terms of training and any potential software and equipment needs to support remote learning.

The SART will respond, as best as possible, to questions of all kinds which should presently be directed through department chairs to divisional liaisons:

  • Mac McArthur (John.McArthur@furman.edu) – Humanities (Asian Studies, Classics, Communication Studies, English, History, Modern Languages and Literatures, Philosophy, and Religion)
  • Victoria Turgeon (Victoria.Turgeon@furman.edu) – Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Health Sciences, Mathematics, and Physics)
  • Jenny Colvin (Jenny.Colvin@furman.edu) – Social Sciences (Business and Accounting, Economics, Education, Military Science, Politics and International Affairs, Psychology, and Sociology)
  • Christopher Hutton (Christopher.Hutton@furman.edu) – Fine Arts and other Centers/Institutes/Programs (Art, Music, and Theatre Arts, and all other entities not mentioned above)

Additionally, Christopher Hutton, Faculty Chair has created an ad hoc committee that includes members of next year’s Faculty Council, to serve as a resource to faculty, staff, and administrators.

Again, we recognize that this transition may create some unease and uncertainty. We are encouraged by the energy, mobilization, and patience each of you has demonstrated thus far and we look forward to working with you to model resiliency for our students in the weeks to come.

Monday, March 16

Dear faculty colleagues, 

This is the second of a series of Daily Digest messages to all faculty with important information regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. These messages are archived online here (scroll to bottom of page).

Message from the Provost:

We know that the pandemic and the pace of change that it has created is stressful for everyone, including faculty, and we are most grateful for the patience, kindness, flexibility, and dedication that you have shown over the past several weeks. In an effort to reduce density and increase social distance on campus, Furman is asking that you work remotely if at all possible. We know that you will make trips to your office to get things from time to time, and that you are taking part in training sessions in the library, which is fine. If you have obstacles which prevent you from working remotely, please discuss them with Dean Summers to see if we can help address them. Having traveled over spring break, I will continue to remain off campus for two weeks but will continue meetings via Zoom and teleconference. Aside from my failure to keep the cat off the computer, things have gone pretty well so far.

We are working quickly to adapt our dean of faculty search process to this new environment and will have an update for you soon about that. We are also working quickly to identify all aspects of academic operations that could be affected by the virus and the government and private sector responses to it. You will continue to hear updates from us on a regular basis.

I have always been struck by our colleagues’ ability to rise to the many challenges that we have faced over the years, and I am confident that we’ll do it again this time.

In gratitude,

Ken

Key Information for Today

  • The Strategic Academic Redesign Team (SART) is working with multiple stakeholders on campus to help provide guidance and support to faculty as you begin redesigning your courses this week.
  • Furman students remain on an extended Spring Break this week to give faculty time to plan to deliver courses via remote learning. You should be prepared to begin remote instruction on Monday, March 23rd.
  • Furman updates information related to the COVID-19 outbreak on the web. 
  • The Faculty Development Center website is a hub of resources. This includes:
  • Information about our Academic Redesign Theory of Action
  • An FAQ for faculty answers to a growing number of questions
  • A sample survey for students that you can use to assess their preparedness for remote learning
  • Course Continuity Planning Tool to help you begin the process of redesigning your courses for remote teaching.
  • list of workshops available to support your transition to remote learning, including a new Zoom Sand Box opportunity this Thursday.
  • As you consider your own course transitions, please work with your department chair to share any resource needs, support services, or unanswered questions that you have. Your department chair is in regular contact with divisional liaisons to bring these items to the attention of the SART.
  • The SART is currently working on developing a Remote Instruction Consultation Corps that includes members of our community with specific experience and expertise in various aspects of remote instruction. Stay tuned for this resource.

Important Resources Available: A Snapshot of Critical Support Resources

The Duke Library will be opened 9AM-5PM Monday, March 16-Friday, March 20.

The Libraries can:

Find more information at the Libraries COVID-19 response page.

If you’d like to consider using some of the remote instructional technology platforms already in use at Furman, check out the information here. This page includes information about Furman’s Course Management System (Moodle), our cloud storage system (Box), and potential synchronous and asynchronous technology like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Today’s Tips

As we approach our transition to remote learning, there are several things we can do to transition strategically and with focus. Special thanks to our colleague Cynthia King for many of these reminders:

  1. Have empathy for your students, and be kind.  They are stressed out, too.
  2. Reduce your expectations and keep it simple. It is OK not to do it all. Less is often more and you should plan for a condensed version of your course.
  3. Prioritize what is most important for your students. As you are urged to move your classes online, consider NOT re-creating your whole 50-80 min lecture in video form. 
  4. Remote doesn’t have to include synchronous instruction – consider asynchronous approaches over synchronous. Well-designed contact points of synchronous engagement within a broader plan for asynchronous engagement may be more efficient and less taxing on everyone involved.
  5. Get creative in the way you think about assessment but don’t try things you’re totally uncomfortable with. As you adapt your assessment approach, be transparent with your students about your learning objectives and what evidence you are looking for to show engagement with those goals.
  6. Consider soliciting ideas from your students (or Google) for resources related to the content of your course and how to engage remotely.
  7. Expect glitches and condition for flexibility! This is not going to be perfect. Adaptability will be important.

Warm regards,

Suzy

Tuesday, March 17

Dear faculty colleagues,

This is the third of a series of Daily Digest messages to all faculty with important information regarding teaching during the COVID-19 outbreak. These messages are archived online here (scroll to bottom of page).

Message from the Provost

As you know by now, the university has had to make a number of decisions quickly that affect students, faculty, and staff. To the extent possible, we have consulted with the relevant faculty standing committees (e.g., CLP Committee, APC, and Faculty Status). There are times, however when it would be helpful to consult with a group of faculty whose responsibilities are more broadly defined.

With this in mind, Christopher Hutton (Faculty Chair), in coordination with the Policies and Procedures committee, has created an ad hoc Faculty Executive Committee. This committee will remain active for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis or until the new constitution takes effect on August 1. The membership of the Executive Committee will be those faculty who were selected by the Nominating Committee and elected by the faculty as a whole to represent the faculty on the 2020-21 Faculty Council: Christopher Hutton (Chair), Christy Allen, Shaniece Criss, Brandon Inabinet, Jason Jones, Akan Malici, and Alison Roark. Any member can receive questions/concerns to bring to the committee.

For the duration of the crisis, the Faculty Executive Committee will consult with the relevant faculty standing committees and act on decisions that would normally be made by the full faculty. They will also be involved in discussion of major issues regarding the academic program as they relate to the current crisis. We are all working under a compressed timeline, but where possible the committee will communicate with and solicit input from other faculty to maintain transparency.

In his role as Faculty Chair, Christopher has decided to defer as much faculty business as possible to the Fall, but major decisions that relate to the academic program will need to be made in the coming days. All actions of this committee will be temporary, for the duration of the crisis, until we can return to our normal governance structure. Some issues may require future action by the full faculty to address temporary decisions made by the Faculty Executive Committee during the crisis.

Key information for Today

  • At this time, the university is remaining open, but all employees who can work from home are required to do so. Please see this campus communication for more details.
  • The Duke Library will be open tomorrow by appointment only, for pick-up of materials. The main circulation desk number is x2264. For appointments  with librarians (which will be done remotely) for research/teaching support, please go to the library COVID-19 site and find a librarian by name or department – each has a “schedule appointment” button under their faces and they are working on adapting those to include all-remote options.  Librarians are also logging into chat help during the day (any library page shows “chat is online” at the top) – they will be promoting these services again next week as classes go online.
  • The Faculty Development Center website provides a suite of helpful resources, information, and tools for your remote transition. This site is updated daily and includes a new Remote Teaching Transition Step-by-Step Guide, a quick video produced by Mac McArthur on transitioning your course to a Moodle platform, and our regularly updated Faculty FAQ.
  • Remote Academic Redesign Consultation Corps has been assembled to help you find the most appropriate point of contact for your important questions.
  • list of workshops available to support your transition to remote learning, including a new Zoom Sand Box on Thursday as well as digital consultations Wednesday and Friday, is available here. To protect the health of our community, all workshops beginning tomorrow, March 18th, will be VIRTUAL ONLY.

Important Updates

  • Though working remotely, Student Life support services are still operational and available to students, both those currently on campus as well as those who are off campus. Please continue to use Success@Furman to raise flags if you have concerns about students.
  • Please do not buy equipment and/or software/licenses without prior approval from the relevant spending authority as we cannot guarantee you will be reimbursed. Furman has negotiated discounts for buying software in bulk. All requests of this kind should be funneled through your department chair through the divisional liaisons to the SART.
  • Miki Winiski, Executive Director for Community Engaged Learning, is working directly with faculty who have been learning alongside our broader community this semester.
  • As you consider your own course transitions, please work with your department chair to share any resource needs, support services, or unanswered questions that you have. Your department chair is in regular contact with divisional liaisons to bring these items to the attention of the SART.
  • You should expect updates soon regarding the status of CLP credits and Furman Engaged.

A Snapshot of Critical Support Resources Available

Student Accommodations

If some of your students are receiving in-class accommodations (accessible media, transcription, captioning, testing accommodations) they will continue to need accommodations. Some students may have found your brick and mortar curriculum accessible but need an accommodation in the new online delivery format. While the Student Office for Accessibility Resources is reaching out to your students, please don’t hesitate to contact SOAR if you have any questions on how to provide accommodations in this new online format. In particular, SOAR has helpful remote learning resources for faculty and staff here and resources for students here.

Student Technology Access and Engagement

Not all of your students will have the familiarity or the access to certain types of digital technology. We strongly encourage you to communicate with your students in the next few days, if you haven’t already, about their digital readiness for remote instruction. A sample survey for this purpose is available here. Even as remote instruction begins, if you have a concern about a particular student, including a student’s understanding of or access to technology required for remote learning, please Raise an Academic Concern Flag in Success@Furman. The Assistant Academic Dean will alert campus resources to offer support as best as possible.

Digital Resource Access

As we can’t assume students have or will have access to their textbooks, you might consider using digital textbooks.  The Duke Library offers many helpful services, including Scan and Deliver and resource digitization to support your remote learning practices. In addition, the library can support you in the digitization of textbook resources. For more about these services, click here. Once submitted, library staff are working with colleagues in SOAR to check if the resource is currently available in an accessible form. Additionally, many publishing and online distribution companies, like VitalSource, are making e-texts free in response to the national emergency. Please check with the publisher of your choice to consider this option.

Today’s Tip

In times of rapid transition to remote learning, flexibility goes a long way. Pedagogical flexibility allows us to get creative with assignment design, exam format, options for students such as choosing from a list of assignment options, interactivity formats, and various avenues for submission of work. At its core, teaching is a creative process. Consider the opportunity this transition provides for you to model that for your students.

Stay healthy,

Suzy

Wednesday, March 18

Dear faculty colleagues,

This is today’s edition of a series of Daily Digest messages to all faculty with important information regarding teaching during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). We urge you to continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 crisis and the Faculty Development Center’s list of frequently asked questions for faculty. If you are concerned you have been exposed to COVID-19, please follow these guidelines for health and safety.

While the library remains open (call 864-294-2264 for access) through Friday, March 20th for those faculty who are preparing to transition to remote learning, all employees who can work from home are required to do so. We recognize that this is not ideal, but we are trying to minimize people accessing buildings on campus except in exceptional circumstances. This is not just for your safety, but for the safety of those who support our critical infrastructure and campus security. More information will follow in the next few days regarding building access procedures for faculty in the weeks to come.

Key Information for Today

Yesterday, President Elizabeth Davis sent an important message to the entire University community. Several significant decisions to highlight include:

  • Remote learning is extended through final exams as students will not be returning to campus this semester;
  • The Cultural Life Program has been suspended through June 3 and accommodations are being made for all students, including graduating seniors;
  • The course withdrawal deadline is extended to April 28 (the last day of classes)
  • All 2020 May Experience Term courses have been canceled;
  • The Spring Commencement ceremony has been postponed with plans underway for a graduation celebration at a later date;
  • All Furman-sponsored events are canceled through June 3, 2020 and all Furman-sponsored travel for employees and students has been suspended with exceptions requiring vice-presidential approval (in Academic Affairs that would be Ken Peterson).

Important Faculty Support Updates

  • Remote Academic Redesign Consultation Corps has been assembled to help you find the most appropriate point of contact for your important questions. Please utilize the many resources within our community during this transition.
  • One of the key components of The Furman Advantage for our students is participating in internship experiences. We encourage faculty to maintain flexibility when working with students to determine alternative methods to achieve the critical learning objectives of these experiences in the absence of experiential contact hours. This is not a time to strictly adhere to in-person hour requirements that will prevent students from getting credit and/or seniors graduating should that not be possible for the duration of the semester. Please reach out to the internship office for ideas about how to complete internships virtually. Because Furman employees are required to work remotely, Furman students should NOT report on-campus for their on-campus internships.
  • list of workshops remains available to support your transition to remote learning, including a Zoom “Sand Box” (Thurs), sessions on Moodle (Thurs), Zoom (Thurs), and Microsoft Teams (Fri), as well as digital consultations on Friday. All workshops are now virtual only.
  • The library has five new iPads available for checkout to support your remote instruction. Please call 864-294-2264 to reserve one.
  • PASCAL Delivers has been suspended until further notice. Interlibrary Loan is still available but physical item borrowing is limited as fewer libraries are lending.

Snapshot of Critical Student Support & Learning Resources

New flags in Success@Furman

  • ‘Academic – General Concern’ flags can be raised by anyone for any reason. If a student indicates they do not have access to necessary technology or internet, or are struggling to engage remotely, please let us know. This includes students who find navigating various technology platforms challenging.
  • ‘Housing Insecurity’ flags can also be raised by anyone when students indicate they have housing insecurities or are unable to leave campus to return home.
  • All other regular academic performance and general behavior flags can continue to be used. Campus support resources will still be reaching out and communicating with students remotely.

Administering & Planning for Exams

The Faculty Development Center is currently developing ongoing training opportunities to support this aspect of remote learning. Where possible, faculty are encouraged to consider alternative assessment measures to replace synchronous exam evaluations. Not only are synchronous exams challenging to administer remotely, they also may not best serve the revised learning objectives of your course. We encourage you to first consider the asynchronous exam format that is part of Furman’s learning management system, Moodle. Moodle has a quiz feature with built in capability to scramble answer and question order for added protection against academic dishonesty. ProctorU, a resource already in use at Furman, is a potential format to explore for synchronous exam management if that is critical for your course. If you’d like more information about ProctorU, contact Andrew Markovic.

Today’s Tip

Some schema for assessing student learning or participation may need adjustment in your remote learning environment. Think about how students can show they are staying engaged, preparing appropriately for synchronous or asynchronous sessions, understanding and applying the material, and meeting other learning goals like data analysis and critical thinking in ways that your original syllabus may not have captured. As you adapt your assessment processes, maintaining an emphasis on fair and equitable evaluation is essential.

And finally…

The last several days have been incredibly challenging for everyone across our university community and beyond. Times like these call for music. So, without further ado (and with apologies to Gloria Gaynor), ladies and gentlemen I present Prof. Michael Bruening of Missouri University of Science and Technology…

Thursday, March 19

Dear faculty colleagues, 

Welcome to today’s edition of the Daily Digest, a message to all faculty with important information regarding teaching during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). We urge you to continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 crisis and the Faculty Development Center’s list of frequently asked questions for faculty. If you are concerned you have been exposed to COVID-19, please follow these guidelines for health and safety. 

Please know that we are aware of the multiple challenges each of you is facing as a result of our transition to remote learning and restricted access to campus. Your concerns are all valid and we are doing our best to provide as much flexibility as possible while also adhering to protocols that we believe best protect the health of our students, employees, and community. You will receive more instruction about campus access soon.

Message from the Faculty Chair

Christopher Hutton, Faculty Chair, has posted an important message about Faculty Governance in the Faculty Notices folder of Box. Please be sure to review this information.

Key Information for Today 

  • As a reminder, please do not buy equipment and/or software/licenses without prior approval from the relevant spending authority at Furman as we cannot guarantee you will be reimbursed. Furman has negotiated discounts for buying software and certain materials in bulk. All requests for supplemental materials, hardware, subscriptions, or software should be funneled through your department chair through the divisional liaisons to the SART.
  • All of our academic and student support teams are working diligently to transition face-to-face services online. This includes updating procedures in the Dean’s Office and Enrollment Services that impact student registration and advising. You will receive information about these new processes as they are finalized in the next few days. We appreciate your patience.

Important Faculty Support Updates 

  • There is no doubt that you are investing tremendous time in your course adaptation plans as we transition to remote instruction. Please keep in mind that there are many wonderful resources within our community to support this transition. A Remote Academic Redesign Consultation Corps has been assembled to help you find the most appropriate point of contact for your important questions. These individuals are here to help.
  • list of workshops remains available to support your transition to remote learning, including a Friday session on Microsoft Teams and plenty of one-on-one digital consultations. Please note that several additional opportunities to learn and support our community will be added soon for next week!

Snapshot of Critical Student Support & Learning Resources 

Preparing Your Students for Remote Instruction

On Monday, March 23, together we begin the new and unexpected chapter in our Furman University journey – the transition to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 situation. We are confident that our Paladin community will navigate this path with understanding, compassion, responsibility and even a little humor during this challenging time. As you share information with students prior to this transition to remote learning and as you resume your courses next week, we’ve prepared some information you might use to better prepare and support student success in this new remote learning environment.

Today’s Tip 

It worth repeating that less is often more when it comes to remote instruction. While there are many forms of technology available for remote interaction, at least in the first week or so of resumed classes, try to avoid adopting too many forms of digital platforms with which you or your students have little familiarity or prior experience. As much as possible, stick with what you already know and consider using those resources with the shortest learning curve.

Sincerely,

Suzy Summers

Friday, March 20

Dear faculty colleagues,  

Congratulations on making it to the end of a difficult week! This is our TGIF edition of a series of Daily Digest messages to all faculty with important information regarding teaching during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). We urge you to continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 crisis and the Faculty Development Center’s list of frequently asked questions for faculty. If you are concerned you have been exposed to COVID-19, please follow these guidelines for health and safety.  

Key Information for Today 

  • You received an email earlier this afternoon from Provost Peterson regarding policies and procedures for accessing buildings on campus. We realize this is not an ideal or easy situation, especially as we transition to remote instruction on Monday. If you need help brainstorming strategies to adapt your instruction given these restrictions, please consult our faculty FAQ where a section entitled “Low-Tech Remote Teaching Options” has been added to provide some initial ideas for faculty and academic staff dealing with these limitations. 
  • As students emerge from their extended spring break and you begin more earnest communication with them, it is important to reiterate that we’ve prepared some information you might use to better prepare and support student success in this new remote learning environment. Some of the information included will only apply if you are using specific strategies or approaches but please utilize and adapt any or all of this content to best suit your individual course preparation needs. 
  • Consider spending time with your students as classes resume to orient them to their new remote learning landscape for your course. For an example of what this might look like with an overview of important course changes and new instructional technology, watch this video where Associate Professor of Sociology, Kyle Longest, provides an introduction to remote learning for his course. 

Important Faculty Support Updates 

As we near the start of remote learning on Monday, our faculty support services will remain fully functional throughout your instructional transition. This includes colleagues here to support your technical challenges, your pedagogical development, and your personal health and wellbeing. A Remote Academic Redesign Consultation Corps has been assembled to help you find the most appropriate point of contact for your important questions about the redesign and launch of our remote instruction. Other forms of support are also available to you. This includes: 

Information about ongoing workshops and learning opportunities is available here for events next week. These include new opportunities to play in the Zoom sandbox, training on encouraging student interaction in remote settings, and several opportunities to support and engage collegially within our community. 

Today’s Tip 

Universities, schools, and many other businesses are all simultaneously moving to different kinds of remote platforms all at once. Although many of these organizations have been preparing for this scale-up for several weeks now, there is no way to know for sure whether a specific form of technology or digital connection will work as planned.  Having a back-up plan should your preferred method of remote instruction not work as you had hoped is wise. Many forms of asynchronous assignments and activities reduce your dependence on a real-time virtual connection. Even simple strategies like building course email distribution lists in Outlook or creating a phone tree with students in your course might ensure you are ready should a disruption occur. You may appreciate this recent NPR article on preparing for remote learning which emphasizes Furman’s “less is more” approach to our transition to remote learning. 

Optimistic Gratitude 

Finally, thank you for your heroic efforts to transform and adapt your courses to meet the demands of our current global circumstance over the past week. While we know there may be challenges and bumps in the road in the weeks ahead, I am confident we will emerge from this experience with new insight, skills, opportunities, and a renewed focus on the transformative power of education.     

Sincerely, 

Suzy Summers 

Sunday, March 22

Dear faculty colleagues,

This is a special Sunday edition of a series of Daily Digest messages to all faculty with important information regarding teaching during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). As always, please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 crisis and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions for faculty.

It’s tempting to rush into the week with anxiety and some measure of concern for how it will all work as we embark on the brave new world of remote teaching and learning.  In short, many of us are feeling vulnerable right now, which may be unfamiliar for us in our identities as experts in our fields.  “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change” writes Brené Brown, and as educators, no group of professionals is better poised to help our students recognize and roll with vulnerability than we are. Please take the time to ruminate on this recent editorial which concludes with Pablo Neruda’s calming “Keeping Quiet.”

As you resume your courses tomorrow in a novel environment and navigate the next several weeks of remote instruction, we hope you’ll keep the following centering thoughts in mind:

1.       Remote instruction does not all look the same: Specifically, remote instruction does not have to be synchronous instruction. Even if you are planning for some synchronous remote instruction, it’s a good idea to have a plan for students to review class meetings asynchronously, as not all students will be able to join you in live sessions.

2.       It is OK not to do it all: In fact, it is not possible that you will be able to accomplish all of your original course learning goals at this point. Your students have a lot going on outside of your course. You have a lot going on outside of your course. Give yourself space to let go of your ideal outcome.

3.       Keep it simple: Less is always more. The best remote instructional technology is the one you already have and know how to use. Don’t try to design the gold star online course overnight. Your students will appreciate simple, well-conceived engagement.

4.       Maintain a focus on your course learning priorities: It’s the content, not the container or method of delivery that matters most. Focus less on the device or technology through which your remote instruction occurs and more on the actions and learning those devices enable.

5.       Be intentional and transparent: Share with your students what your central learning priorities are and how those map onto your decisions about how to proceed in a remote environment. Invite them into your pedagogical decisions and solicit feedback and ideas about where to go next. Building shared ownership and decision-making may help your students feel less powerless in a situation that is beyond their control.

6.       Anticipate and mitigate Matthew Effects: When it comes to remote learning, be aware that Matthew Effects may emerge – a situation where students who are already privileged in many ways are more likely to benefit first, and most, from engagement with new instructional technology. Access to reliable email, technology and hardware, and freedom from the distraction of caring for family members or a job will allow some students to engage more consistently and thoroughly. Be mindful of this as you design and carry out your remote instruction, but also as you evaluate and assess the participation and engagement of your students in that process.

7.       It is OK not to be perfect: You likely understand that for your students to succeed in doing something difficult, they may first experience failure that leads to transformative learning. The same goes for you.  Expect glitches in this new remote environment, and condition yourself and your students for flexibility.

8.       Have empathy and be kind: Everyone within our University community is facing a world of rapid change, uncertainty and high intensity. Your students need your understanding and your empathy. It may not be ideal and it may not be perfect, but take a step back and marvel at the creativity and resourcefulness that are emerging in this moment.

9.       You are not alone: Your professional communities, your department, your Furman faculty colleagues, and a host of support services are here to support you as you navigate the next few weeks. This includes colleagues that will help you navigate your technical challenges, your pedagogical development, and your personal health and wellbeing. Reach out for help. We are all in this together.

I express my deepest gratitude for our colleagues in the Faculty Development Center, the Center for Academic Success, the James B. Duke Library, Information Technology Services, and the Student Office of Accessibility Resources for their tireless dedication to prepare us to deliver remote education. Thanks also to our faculty SART liaisons who have worked diligently to find answers to your questions.

Many of our colleagues contribute to the Daily Digest content, but special thanks go to Diane Boyd, Ben Haywood and Christopher Hutton for making sure that it is informative and timely.

Thank you, Paladin family, for demonstrating, once again, that Furman is home to the best and brightest faculty and staff imaginable. I have full confidence we will maintain the delivery of a world-class education on this new journey.

Sincerely,

Suzy Summers

Monday, March 23

Dear faculty colleagues,

This is today’s edition of a series of Daily Digest messages to all faculty with important information regarding teaching during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). As always, please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions for faculty.

Key Information for Today

  • Many of you have inquired about the status of summer research and internships. The Center for Engaged Learning, along with the Academic Leadership Team and Emergency Management and Operations Team, are discussing these programs.  No decisions have been made, but the status of on-campus research and living on-campus to complete local internships is part of a broader discussion about Furman’s plans after June 4. For both undergraduate research and internships virtual options are being considered. If you have any immediate concerns, questions, or input, please contact Beth Pontari.
  • Please remember that if you are requiring your students to participate in synchronous (live, online) meetings, they should take place during the regular meeting time for the course so that students are not required to be in two virtual classes at the same time. It is strongly encouraged that these sessions are recorded and made available in an asynchronous format for students who are not able to join live course sessions.
  • In order to better support remote student access to class materials, we are digitizing many of those materials under the Fair Use provision of the Copyright ActTo avoid copyright violations, any materials digitized by the library or by the faculty must be restricted to class members only and must be removed from Box and/or Moodle no later than May 5, 2020. Follow these instructions to limit access to digitized materials in Box.
  • The Furman Engaged! event scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, 2020 has been canceled. If participation in this event was something you were requiring of your students, we encourage you to consider other methods to engage students in a similar presentation remotely.
  • Please remember that all requests for supplemental materials, hardware, subscriptions, or software to support your remote instruction (including those for your personal use at home) should be funneled through your department chair through the divisional liaisons to the SART.

Faculty Support Reminders and Updates

  • Please be mindful of campus and building access policies shared Friday (available here) that are effective today. If you need help brainstorming strategies to adapt your instruction given these restrictions, please consult our faculty FAQ where a section entitled “Low-Tech Remote Teaching Options” has been added to provide some initial ideas for faculty and academic staff dealing with these limitations.
  • If you plan to use some sort of video interaction for your instruction, it is a good idea for you and your students to test your mic and speakers here before your first class.  If you have technical issues that you need immediate support with, please email serivce.center@furman.edu or call 864.294.3277.
  • Information about ongoing workshops and learning opportunities is available here for events this week. If you can’t find information to support your pedagogical needs on the Faculty Development Center website, you might consider scheduling a consultation with the FDC.
  • Despite the challenges that remote instruction presents, as a body of educators, we hope this also provides an opportunity for us to learn from each other. In that spirit, we’ve created a Remote Learning Course Continuity Forum where we hope you will share both tips and tricks you are learning along the way, and solicit feedback on particular challenges you are facing. This interactive forum is located on the FDC Commons Moodle site. If you haven’t already, you can self-enroll in the site by searching for “FDC Commons” in the Moodle platform.
  • As you make research assignments remind students of the Student Guide to Library Resources and Services During COVID-19 Pandemic. Students can get research assistance at libraryreference@furman.edu or through text at 864-214-7172.

Student Support Reminders and Updates

A communication was issued to students this morning, and distributed to faculty, reminding students of available academic, advising, and support resources and how to connect to them. This communication can be reviewed here.

Non-Communicative or Missing Students

If students are not engaging in coursework remotely, the Center for Academic Success (CAS) is delighted to follow up with them. Please raise an Academic General Concern flag in Success@Furman, or email Tracy Carner directly. CAS will do their best to contact the student, but please be aware that they might have to communicate with parents earlier than they would typically. When students are not responsive on campus, they can be summoned, but we’ve lost that capability with the switch to remote instruction.

Technology Challenges

If students indicate they do not have access to necessary internet or technology needed to engage with your courses remotely, or if they are struggling to use new communication platforms or technology, please raise an Academic General Concern flag in Success@Furman. The CAS is delighted to reach out and offer support, but please know that the best approach to this problem is for you to develop asynchronous resources for any synchronous activity offered.

Academic Progress Survey

After much discussion, it has been decided not to use the customary progress survey this semester. There is concern that this could cause unproductive stress among students who are trying to adjust to a new learning environment. The CAS continues to depend on faculty to continue to register their concerns about students through Success@Furman. As a reminder, Kudos can also be given to students at any time. If you are worried about sharing concerns with a student about his or her academic progress, participation, or attendance, you may raise flags that do not communicate with students or email Tracy Carner or Jeremy Cass directly.

  • Attendance Concern: student IS notified of concern via an automatic email from Tracy Carner.
  • Academic Performance Concern: student IS notified of concern and given information about resources via an automatic email from Kelsey Davis.
  • Instructor Academic Alert: student is NOT notified. Center for Academic Success (CAS) will follow up as appropriate.
  • Academic General Concern: student is NOT notified. Student Intervention Team or CAS will follow up as appropriate.

Today’s Tip

As your courses resume this week, be mindful that, just like you, your students are likely facing a number of uncertainties and discomforting challenges. Although there is value in trying to pick up where you left off and establish some normalcy in your courses, faculty who have already taught this week are sharing that students simply want to be with us and with each other to process this mighty disruption. Not only are you encouraged to consider how you might provide space for students to interpret the global pandemic within the filter of your course or discipline, but extending a sense of care and community to our students this week will go a long way.

Sincerely,

Suzy Summers

Tuesday, March 24

Dear faculty colleagues,

This is today’s edition of a series of Daily Digest messages to all faculty with important information regarding teaching during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). As always, please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions for faculty.

Key Information for Today

  • Some students and faculty have inquired if Fall Study Abroad programs will take place. The decision to cancel or continue as planned has not been made yet. Furman’s Study Away Safety and Compliance and Assessment of Risk Committee (SASCAR), with input from faculty study away program directors and other campus offices and committees, will make this decision in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, students planning to study abroad in the fall will be instructed to register for fall on-campus courses so that, in the event fall study away is canceled, they have a full course schedule. Fall study away students and their academic advisors will receive an email on Monday alerting them to the need for students to register for fall classes.
  • Registration for fall 2020 will be delayed by one week to allow students and advisors more time for advising.  The registration dates will be as follows:
    • April 14th – Registration window for rising seniors opens at 5:00pm
    • April 20th – Registration window for rising juniors opens at 5:00pm
    • April 23rd – Registration window for rising sophomores opens at 5:00pm
  • Although no final decisions have been made yet, several groups, including the Faculty Status Committee, are working diligently to provide guidance on Spring 2020 Student Opinion of Instruction surveys and how our current challenges may be considered as a part of the tenure, promotion and evaluation processes in the future. Similarly, our colleagues in Finance and Administration and Enrollment Services are considering closely questions related to the financial implications of this sudden interruption of service on faculty, staff, and students. Updates on these matters will be provided as soon as they are given full and critical consideration.
  • Please keep in mind that if you are recording your Zoom course sessions to share with your students these should be recorded LOCALLY and then uploaded online (via Box, Youtube, Vimeo, etc.) for student access.  Links generated from these sites can be shared in Moodle. Please do not record these sessions to the Zoom cloud as Furman’s Zoom cloud space will quickly fill and your recording will not be saved.

Faculty Support Reminders and Updates

Finding the Right Remote Instruction Mix

As you’ve likely discovered by now, it isn’t feasible for you to fully replicate all of your plans for face-to-face interaction in a remote format. You’ve been urged, instead, to utilized platforms like Zoom conservatively for purposeful, synchronous meetings as necessary, or for office hours, supplemented by asynchronous strategies like pre-recorded lecture and response prompts. In the short 48-hours since remote instruction began Furman faculty and students have reported that seeing each other—even simply to check-in or say hello—has been a comfort.

How else might you keep your students engaged in asynchronous assignments? Check out this resource for seven platforms with existing free access that allow you to build interactive components into asynchronous instruction. For tips on how to foster engagement in online discussions, click here and for more about finding ways to add “nodes of synchronicity” into your instruction, click here.

Dealing with Glitches in Zoom or Microsoft Teams

With such unprecedented demand on video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, glitches are bound to occur. If your students are having trouble accessing or joining a course meeting, please have them contact you immediately. There are options for you to (re)invite members directly into an active meeting (see here for Zoom and here for Teams). Both Zoom and Microsoft Teams have robust user tutorials available online that cover a number of typical usage questions. If you have a technical question about how to manage these platforms, please first consult these resources to see if an answer is already available. If you still can’t find a suitable answer or are having challenges operating one of these platforms, please contact service.center@furman.edu.

Celebrating Unique Methods and Approaches to Remote Instruction

Just like your face-to-face classroom, your remote instruction practice is unique to you – your identity, your scholarship, your discipline, and your course learning objectives. No two remote courses will look the same or utilize the same approaches, assessment structures, or interactive technology. There is no one right way to conduct your courses in a remote setting, and no expectation from Furman administrators that you utilize specific practices or tools. This is not a remote learning competition. We encourage you to focus on what is the most comfortable for you and your students to help them meet the learning objectives of your courses.

Student Support Reminders and Updates

Please continue to raise the appropriate flags in Success@Furman if you are concerned about a student over the next several days. The Center for Academic Success is working diligently to contact students that are potentially in need of support. Additionally, please note that CAS may need to communicate with parents earlier than they would typically to check on a student. Your patience is appreciated during this process.

Today’s Tip

One of the hard truths about learning is that to succeed in doing something difficult, we may first experience failure. Perhaps your remote instruction isn’t going exactly as you had planned after the first couple of days? You might be interested in reading more about recent research out of Northwestern’s School of Management that found failure to be “an essential prerequisite” for success.

As is pointed out in the article, the research findings “cut against the traditional explanations for failure or success, such as luck or a person’s work habits. ‘What we’re showing here is that even in the absence of such differences, you can still have very different outcomes.’ What matters is how people fail, how they respond to failure and where those failures lead.”

Sincerely,

Suzy Summers

Wednesday, March 25

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to today’s edition of a series of Daily Digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Today marks our first day of distribution to the entire campus!  Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). As always, please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions.

Key Information for Today

  1. Please see this campus announcement regarding the first member of our community who has tested positive for COVID-19. As a reminder, students who test positive for COVID-19 should notify Student Life at studentlife@furman.edu. If you are aware of a student who has tested positive, please encourage them to contact Student Life. Employees who test positive for COVID-19 should notify Human Resources at humanresources@furman.edu.
  2. The Furman Barnes and Noble Bookstore and P2X continue to provide services during remote instruction. For updates about how to access these services, visit the bookstore website here and the P2X website here.
  3. The Malone Center for Career Engagement will continue to offer career support to all students during this time of transition due to COVID-19. While a full suite of services have been retooled for remote delivery, a few to highlight include:
    1. Career Advising – All advising appointments will be conducted remotely.  New appointment requests can be scheduled directly on Handshake or by emailing career.engagement@furman.edu.
    2. Employer Events & Opportunities – All employer events and on-campus interviews will be conducted virtually or postponed. New job opportunities and virtual employer events will be updated daily on Handshake.
  4. If you have students with specific questions about their academic records and registration, Enrollment Services remains active and is available to answer any questions your students may have during normal operating hours. The best way to communicate with Enrollment Services staff is via email at enroll@furman.edu.
  5. Earlier today, you received an email from Provost Peterson regarding upcoming Dean of Faculty Candidate Open Forums. Please note that:
    1. The first forum will be held this Friday, March 27, at 3:30pm. Questions for the candidate may be submitted to the Executive Council here. The Executive Council will be responsible for reviewing submitted in advance and asking questions during the event. Please submit questions by tomorrow, March 26, at 5:00 pm. You may access the CV of each candidate the day before the virtual on-campus interview on Faculty Notices here.
  6. Thank you for your adherence to the University’s building access protocol during this period of remote instruction. If you are granted access to a building, please remember to follow the appropriate sanitation procedures upon your entry and exit. Facilities custodial service recently put out disinfecting wipes in all of the buildings and departments which should be visible as people enter. Facilities Services is receiving daily notification of those people who have been approved access.

Faculty/Staff Support Reminders and Updates

All of us in our Furman community know that our faculty and staff are a creative and adaptable bunch. Just as we appreciate you raising important questions and concerns about your transition to remote learning, we hope you will also share with us your great ideas, tips, hacks, and insights. We would love to crowd source these ideas and share those with others. Please consider taking a few minutes to post your creative tips on the FDC Commons Remote Learning Course Continuity Forum.

    1. Special thanks to Professor of Physics Susan D’Amato for kicking off the forum with an insightful reflection she recently gained as a result of her remote instruction!
    2. One example of our creative community can be seen in this short video created by Instructional Technologist Joe Hiltabidel, who demonstrates building a DIY document camera/whiteboard at home using Zoom meetings, your cell phone, your computer—and a cardboard box!

Many of you are working diligently to modify, adapt, and manage traditional course assessments like exams in a remote setting. Where possible, course instructors are encouraged to consider alternative assessment measures to replace synchronous exam evaluations because proctored, synchronous exams are logistically complex for you and your students. Give yourself permission to think outside the parameters of your original assessments and focus directly on how your students might demonstrate your central learning objectives in an alternative format.

    1. Some ideas include replacing exams with final projects or papers, converting an exam to an applied take-home version, or utilizing the asynchronous exam format that is part of Furman’s learning management system, Moodle. Moodle has a quiz feature with built-in capability to scramble both answer and question order for added protection against academic dishonesty.

We are half-way through our first week of remote instruction and each of you is investing considerable time in the redesign of your courses. We hope you also continue to take some time to pause and engage with your family, friends, and colleagues. Several opportunities to connect with our community are organized this week, including 30 Minutes of Mindfulness with Min-Ken Liao and Meghan Slining tomorrow at 7:30am and a Faculty-Staff Virtual Happy Hour on Friday to follow immediately after the Dean of Faculty virtual forum, at 4:45 p.m. For links to both of these events, click here.

Student Support Reminders and Updates

  1. Thank you for your timely flags in Success@Furman to identify students who may need extra support during this remote transition. The Center for Academic Success (CAS) is making great progress connecting with these students and is pleased to report that, as a whole, our student body has been able to successfully connect with you and our campus services during the first few days of remote instruction. Please continue to exercise flexibility with your students, however, as many are now facing added responsibility caring for family or friends who have contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
  2. Thank you for the number of inquiries that have been received regarding support of the very limited group of students who are still approved to live on campus at this time. Our Housing and Residence Life staff are in regular contact with these students, and Bon Appetit is working directly with those students to ensure that they receive continuous food and nourishment.

Today’s Tip

As we settle into a schedule of remote engagement with our students and colleagues and observe interaction precautions you may be navigating feelings of isolation and distance. The Cothran Center for Vocational Exploration recently shared  these reflective questions on social media to help us process our “new normal.”  One way to safely sustain connection to others is digital volunteering with one of these “9 Places to Volunteer Online”. Smaller nonprofits in our area may not have formal virtual volunteer projects, but that doesn’t mean they can’t use your help with tasks like web design, bookkeeping, legal counsel, or program evaluation.  In this time of social distancing, an internet connection is a useful avenue to support our local to global community.

And finally…

While you may not have the voice of Patti Labelle or the charisma of the Muppets, this video reminds us that if Sesame Street can teach a million kids to read, surely we can make it through a month of remote instruction!

Sincerely,

The SART Team and Suzy

Thursday, March 26

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to today’s edition of a series of Daily Digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). As always, please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions.

Key Information for Today

  1. Final exams in a remote learning context – Faculty should not feel pressured to administer traditional exams remotely in the current learning environment. Jeremy Cass, Associate Academic Dean offers these policy thoughts as you design culminating experiences in your courses. If you elect to forego a traditional exam for a different type of culminating activity or assignment, please communicate with your students early about such changes.
  1. Title IX Reporting and Response Obligations in a remote learning context – To highlight an email you received yesterday, Title IX reporting obligations for Responsible Employees have not changed as we have transitioned to remote learning. If a student or another employee reports concerns involving potential sexual misconduct (including sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, sexual harassment or sexual exploitation), you should report that to Melissa Nichols, Title IX and ADA Coordinator, as soon as possible (and in no event more than 24 hours after it is reported to you). If you are unsure whether you are a Responsible Employee or have any questions about reporting, please review this FAQ.
  1. Student conduct and behavior in a remote learning context – As our community navigates new virtual classroom norms during our period of remote instruction, especially with the use of video conferencing, what was once private (e.g. bedroom wall art or decorations) are now suddenly public. If you haven’t already, you are encouraged to have a conversation about netiquette with your students (see a list of issues to discuss in the “Reviewing Netiquette” section here). In particular, it is worth noting that, while freedom of speech protections still exist in online learning settings, anything that would be inappropriate to bring to or display in class is still inappropriate in a virtual classroom. You should immediately address discriminatory or derogatory behavior in remote settings.
    1. If a student situates themselves in front of a picture of a nude person, for example, you should address this directly (privately through chat if possible) and have them move to a different location. If a student does something more deliberate, such as sharing pornography during a class time or engages in behavior directed at a specific person, you are expected to stop the behavior at the time it occurs (for example, by muting the video or audio of the student) and report the behavior so it can be handled, either through a Title IX process or through the regular student conduct process.
  1. Don’t forget that the forum for the first Dean of Faculty candidate will take place tomorrow, Friday, March 27 at 3:30-4:45 p.m. Questions for the candidate may be submitted to the Faculty Executive Committee here. Please submit suggestions for questions by today, March 26, at 5:00 pm. You may access the CV of each candidate the day before the virtual on-campus interview on Faculty Notices here. You will receive separate instructions on how to access the online forum today – please follow the link and register for the forum. In the 24 hours following the forum you can submit feedback. A similar process will take place for future forums with the other two finalist candidates on Wednesday, April 1 and Friday, April 3.

Faculty/Staff Support Reminders and Updates

  1. Community-Engaged Learning – Our tip yesterday highlighted the value of engaging in community remotely. Faculty teaching Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) courses are practicing this strategy by adapting their courses to utilize web-based technology, including Zoom, to allow community and non-profit leaders to guest-speak and share how they are adapting their services during the pandemic. Other strategies that are being implemented include having students support non-profits remotely, where applicable.
    1. As an example, the current iMap student fellow has been working with United Way to quickly add and update school bus stop food delivery and food pantry sites on Greenville’s iMap to address local food insecurity during the crisis. The project is an ongoing collaboration between Furman, Prisma Health, Greenville County, and the United Way. Additional opportunities for reflection and cases studies are also being used to augment CEL courses in lieu of face-to-face collaboration.
    2. Working on adaptations to your own CEL project? Furman is a member of Campus Compact which provides access to additional resources and weekly online discussions about adapting CEL courses during the outbreak.
  1. Small-group interaction – For many of us, our courses involve some level of small group work or interaction. Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to support this work in a remote environment. If you’d like to facilitate synchronous small group interactions in a digital video environment, Zoom meetings has a built-in small-group meeting feature that allows you to assign individuals to a small group or will automatically assign them for you. Additionally, If students want to initiate meetings and group work without you they can do so in Microsoft Teams by creating a team of their colleagues. All students have a Teams license and can download Teams from the web client of Office 365. For asynchronous video interaction, WhatsappMarco Polo, and Flipgrid applications allow students to create group chats where they can send and listen to short recordings using their cell phones.
  1. New learning opportunities– Please check out additional Faculty Development Center learning opportunities that have been added for next week, including sessions on encouraging student interaction through remote engagement, revising assessment practices for remote instruction that promote application and academic integrity, and teaching writing remotely.

Student Support Reminders and Updates

  1. Resolving your flags – The Student Intervention Team and the Center for Academic Success (CAS) has resolved 165 flags this week thanks to your early intervention flags! 50 cases are still in active resolution. Please extend a special thanks to the dedicated individuals working to resolve these issues for their immense support of our student body.
  1. Mental health resources for students – The Furman Counseling Center has assembled a number of resources for you to share with your students who may be in need of mental health support during our period of remote instruction. Students are encouraged to communicate directly with a member of the Counseling Services team for personalized support during this time.
  1. Preparing for future challenges – Although we can’t always predict the challenges our students may face over the next few weeks in our new remote learning environment, we can anticipate and prepare for more likely scenarios. Based on your first several days of remote instruction, you might take a few minutes to reflect on several potential challenges your students might encounter and how you will handle those situations if they occur in the weeks to come. This blog post may prompt some ideas.

Today’s Tip

With nearly a week of remote instruction while social distancing under your belt, you may be slowly establishing some routines and norms around your new work space and practice. For many of us, working from home, especially with other competing demands, can prove disorienting and difficult to focus. You might be interested in these eleven tips provided by the Boston Globe for those of us suddenly confined to home office workspace. Whatever your practice, we hope you are finding a rhythm of generative, productive, and calming space.

Sincerely,

The SART and Suzy

Friday, March 27

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to our Friday edition of a series of Daily Digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Congratulations on making it to the end of your first week of remote instruction! Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). As always, please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions.

Key Information for Today

  1. Furman Engaged was set to take place on April 7.  As you know, classes are suspended on Furman Engaged day.  Given our current circumstances, it is up to individual faculty to decide if their classes will meet on April 7 (at their assigned time and for their typical duration). We know many of you dedicated much time and effort to prepare your students for this important day and we thank you for that work.  We also know that some departments rely on Furman Engaged as a means for assessing capstone projects and other milestones. If you have ideas about how to provide opportunities remotely for students to present their work, we would be interested in hearing about those and how we can support you.  To share these ideas, or if you have questions about Furman Engaged, please contact Beth Pontari.
  1. If you attended the Dean of Faculty forum today and would like to provide feedback, you may do so for 24 hours following the forum. You can submit feedback here.
  1. Thank you for your extraordinary efforts to reach out to the students in your courses over the past week to ensure they are able to continue to engage in your course learning activities. If you haven’t already, please also communicate with your advisees as an additional layer of support for our student body. You might consider developing a group online platform for your advising group (using an application like Microsoft Teams or your platform of choice) to streamline communication and interaction with your advisees in one place. Don’t hesitate to ask your students to respond directly to your communication so that you ensure that each of you students has been accounted for.

Faculty/Staff Updates & Reminders

  1. Furman has quickly reached a significant milestone in our remote instruction! Prior to our remote transition, approximately 200 Zoom licenses had been assigned. As of today, nearly 520 Furman Zoom accounts are active, including 246 faculty and 240 staff members. Special thanks to Susan Dunnavant and the ITS department for their tireless support of this rapid increase in remote technology usage.
  1. Special thanks to Paige Dhyne, Science Librarian, for sharing step-by-step instructions in our Remote Learning Course Continuity Forum for creating closed captions for lectures/screencasts. As Paige notes, creating closed captions is one tool to ensure your remote course resources are accessible. More information about captioning support from the Student Office for Accessibility Resources is available here. For tips about how we all might lead more inclusive meetings via Zoom, check out these ideas developed by Stanford IT.
  1. One of the unintended consequences of a sudden shift to remote instruction involves a digital overload of sorts for you and your students. Associate Professor of Sociology, Dr. Kyle Longest, developed this how-to resource for students to help them manage the deluge of emails they are now receiving from each of their courses. We encourage you to share this handout with your students (perhaps on your course Moodle site). Professor Longest has also compiled a brief how-to video to outline this process that he can share for your use if you’d like (email him at kyle.longest@furman.edu).
  1. We would love to hear your remote learning tips, hacks, and best practices here. Please take a few minutes to share these ideas with our community!

Student Support Reminders and Updates

Mays Imad, the coordinator of the Teaching & Learning Center at Pima Community College, reminds us in this InsideHigherEd editorial, that hope matters for learning. By sharing ten simple strategies we can use as educators to support our students through this period of global anxiety and uncertainty, Imad highlights that emotions are essential for learning, and that by connecting with our students in a way that addresses the whole student, we have a much greater chance at cultivating rich learning and growth through our educational interactions.

Today’s Tip

At the end of our first week of our remote instruction adventure we leave you with a short and simple quote:

“Teaching is a radical act of hope. It is an assertion of faith in a better future in an increasingly uncertain and fraught present. It is a commitment to that future even if we can’t clearly discern its shape.”

~ Kevin Gannon, Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto (forthcoming April 1 2020)

Sincerely,

SART and Suzy

Monday, March 30

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to today’s edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Beginning this week, our digests will be distributed on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). As always, please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions.

Key Information for Today

  1. The University has decided that all summer 2020 courses will take place via remote instruction.
  1. For important updates, tips, and resources for advising our students in during our period of remote learning, please consult this Academic Advising Update distributed today. The update includes details on important advising-related dates, policy changes, procedures, and recommendations for making the most of your remote advising!
  1. Please be sure to review the temporary adjustments made for spring 2020 to the pass-no pass grading option that were communicated last Friday. While many aspects of the policy remain unchanged, there is now increased flexibility regarding the use of this temporarily adjusted option, providing students with some additional plasticity while navigating our remote learning transition. Advisors, in particular, will want to understand the implications of these modifications for the Spring 2020 semester.
  1. The Summer Research and Internship program is continuing this summer! The Center for Engaged Learning is working with faculty and internship sites to determine how projects can be completed remotely and/or use a hybrid model that would combine remote mentoring with in-person mentoring pending a decision to return to campus/workplace. Flexibility in the length of the project will also be allowed, such that projects that depend entirely upon in-person mentoring may start later and offer a pro-rated stipend if the minimum 320 hours cannot be met. If you have questions please reach out to Erik Ching (research) or Diane Iseminger (internships).
  1. Christopher Hutton, Faculty Chair, has posted a message in Box summarizing the recent activity of the Faculty Executive Committee.

Faculty/Staff Support Reminders & Updates

  1. Moodle Tutorials & Support – While familiarizing yourself with the features of Furman’s Learning Management System Moodle, please take advantage of the numerous resources available to support your use of the platform. The Faculty Development Center has assembled several detailed how-to guides and user tips here, including those on setting up and grading assignments , creating and grading quizzes, and information about how to support student accommodations in the Moodle platform (e.g. extending quiz time allocations for students). You can also self-enroll in the “Moodle Essentials” course by searching available courses in the Moodle platform. Want to explore Moodle further?  Contact Andrew Markovic (humanities and social science faculty) or Jean Childress (all other faculty).
  1. Zoom Bombing – Some Zoom users across the country are reporting meeting crashers who may join meetings uninvited and introduce prank content through screen sharing or foul language (Zoom-bombing). Zoom has taken steps across their global platform to enhance security to minimize the occurrence of this (for example, now screen sharing among your students is an opt-in feature in your settings). However, as you schedule and host Zoom meetings, we want you to be aware of the options you have for sharing information and managing participants to prevent uninvited people from joining or sharing their screen without your permission, including options to implement passwords for your meetings and steps to remove uninvited guests. In this document you will find an overview of the options available to you to increase your Zoom meeting privacy and security. If you have questions or concerns about your privacy, please contact the Service Center (864.294.3277).
  1. New Learning Opportunities – The Faculty Development Center is offering special learning opportunities this week to support your ongoing investment in remote learning experiences. You can register for virtual workshops focused on applied assessment strategies and teaching writing in remote learning environments here.
  1. Passing More Milestones – In the last two weeks, with great help from SOAR, the Furman Libraries have digitized almost 300 physical books and videos from our collection and have processed 60 interlibrary loan requests. We have also ordered and received 30+ electronic books and streaming videos in support of remote learning. If you or your students need something that the libraries own in a digital format, go to Request Digitization of Library Materials and we will do our best to get you those materials as soon as possible.

Student Support Reminders & Updates

  1. Printed Accommodations – If you have students who are having difficulty accessing online materials or can’t engage in too much screen time because of their disability, the Student Office for Accessibility Resources (SOAR) has developed a process to support those students by providing them with printed material that is shipped to them directly. If you’d like to utilize this resource, please submit a Printed Materials Request and SOAR will take it from there.
  1. Avoiding Cognitive Overload – Don’t forget that not only have you had to rapidly transition to and learn to utilize a very different instructional environment, but your students have too! The Student Office for Accessibility Resources (SOAR) offers these tips for avoiding cognitive overload among your students in remote learning:
    • Be careful not to present too much at once – referring students to your textbook, a Moodle article, and key points in your PowerPoint slide on the screen, all while expecting discussion – is a lot to manage at once. One thing at a time is best!
    • Before each synchronous class session or asynchronous module assignment, let students know what they will need to have access to during that session and what structure and format the session will follow. A quick check-list would be helpful. This will enable them to be set-up and ready to learn!
    • If hosting a synchronous class session, try to distribute your lecture or activity materials to the class ahead of time so students can print or download these resources should they prefer not to look at a shared computer screen.
    • Given the distractions that virtual environments provide, create short pauses, breaks, or check-ins for students to update their notes or jot down their thoughts.
    • Remember that students can’t look at everything on a screen at once and they don’t always see what you see on the screen (Moodle instructors and Zoom hosts have unique options and visualizations). Instead of saying “click here,” try to explain more specifically what you’d like your students to click on and always check-in with your students to ensure they can see and access relevant information.

Today’s Tip

In the first week of remote instruction, you were encouraged to invite your students into a conversation about norms of interaction and engagement in this new learning adventure, including a discussion of appropriate netiquette. In this set of tips for teachers in transition, Jeff Lisciandrello from Room to Discover recommends a practice of revisiting these norms in your courses weekly in recognition that they can evolve over time to suit the learning objectives of the course. More importantly, these tips are a useful reminder that you set the tone and expectations in your virtual learning environment by leading by example in your attire, energy, attitude, and communication practice.

Sincerely,

The SART and Suzy

Wednesday, April 1

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to our first April edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. As noted previously, our digests this week will be distributed just three days, including today and Friday. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions.

Key Information for Today

  1. The Office of Admissions has postponed campus visits at least through April to ensure the health and safety of the Furman community and its visitors. During that period of time, Admissions staff are offering virtual information sessions as well as providing other resources for prospective students and families. For more information about these virtual opportunities, click here.
  1. Please keep in mind that all Furman-sponsored travel for employees is suspended until further notice. Registration or reservations for future travel should be postponed. Exceptions for employees, including any current registration for future travel, require approval from your division’s Vice President (Ken Peterson for Academic Affairs).
  1. If you attended the Dean of Faculty forum this afternoon and would like to provide feedback, you may do so for 24 hours following the forum. You can submit feedback here.

Faculty/Staff Support Reminders and Updates

  1. University Communications has recently released several Furman-inspired background images for video conferencing. You can view and download familiar images of our beautiful campus here for your remote meeting use.
  1. Although our recent unexpected move to remote instruction this semester required that we adapt our courses and student engagement opportunities rapidly, we thankfully have more lead-time to invest in the intentional design of online course and research experiences for students for the summer ahead. To aid in this process, the Faculty Development Center (FDC) has developed a Summer 2020 Vision Series of opportunities designed to support the intentional and strategic design of summer courses and/or student research experiences. Together, in the coming weeks, we will work to design learning experiences that highlight the unique and transformative value of a Furman education. To learn more about these opportunities or to register online, click here.
  1. Last week, academic department chairs were asked to generate a Continuity of Operations Plan (CoOP) that outlines how units will respond should one or more of our colleagues fall ill during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us have navigated this possibility on a limited basis, stepping up to cover classes when a colleague needed help; it is disconcerting to think about doing so now, when our collective health is so compromised and we are already over-extended.  We have learned, however, that proactive planning during crisis is a more productive, calming approach than reacting to crises as they occur. Most importantly, it is best for our students when we proactively plan for contingencies, as it gives us more time to determine how best to provide the Furman education our students trust and in which they’ve invested. In this time of crisis, claiming the agency we do have amidst so many unknowns may well be the most healthful, helpful course.
  1. Due to CoOP planning requests (see above), as of today, instructors in Moodle classes may add others to the class with role of teacher. Please note that you cannot add other roles. Instructors wishing to add students or others should still contact the Service Center.

Student Support Reminders and Updates

  1. Now a week and a half into remote instruction, your students may need a reminder that tutoringwriting and media consultations, and research assistance services are still available. Please encourage your students to continue to take advantage of these academic support resources.

Today’s Tip

While we are all adapting to a physically distanced world of work, on this first (albeit chilly) day of April we hope you are also finding time to close your screen and enjoy the transition to spring in our area. In this light-hearted piece, Joshua Kim shares “fifteen ways you know that you are spending too much time in Zoom”. What about you – how can you tell when you are spending too much time in Zoom?

Sincerely,

The SART and Suzy

Friday, April 3

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to today’s edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions.

Key Updates for Today

  1. The Faculty Status Committee has recommended to the Dean and Provost that Student Opinion of Instruction surveys be suspended for the spring term, 2020. This recommendation has been endorsed by the Faculty Executive Committee.
  1. Because all summer 2020 courses will now be offered online, we recognize that some faculty and departments may need to modify the courses they planned to offer in the summer ahead. With student advising having already commenced for rising seniors,  we must work expeditiously to modify the existing summer course catalog to reflect our shift to online learning. Please  respond promptly to information requests from your chair regarding the status of any courses you planned to teach or potential course additions you might offer for this summer. This information is due to academic department chairs no later than April 7th. Faculty will be compensated at the standard summer rate per course.
  1. Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) courses can be particularly difficult to teach during the COVID-19 crisis. However, tools like Zoom are helping students stay connected to our local and regional community. If you’d like to explore ways to implement a CE (Community Engagement) course this summer or next fall, please contact Mike Winiski (mike.winiski@furman.edu) in the Collaborative for Community-Engaged Learning. Proposals for CE courses for Summer and Fall 2020 are due by June 1, 2020. The application and additional details can be found here.
  1. We appreciate the fact that many of you are mindful that recording your synchronous class discussions and interactions allows Furman students who cannot join synchronously, whether due to time zone or other constraints, to contribute to their class and learning environment. In order to ensure that the sharing of course recordings both promotes an inclusive and accessible learning environment and ensures privacy, the University asks that you follow these best practices for protecting student privacy in recorded course activities.
  1. In the context of the rapidly evolving circumstances regarding COVID-19 and to further the efforts of our commitment to keeping the members of our community safe and healthy, effective immediately, Furman is suspending any research involving human subjects that require in-person interaction with participants, including those studies that have participants come to campus, until further notice. For more information about this important update, see here.
  1. If you were able to join the third Dean of Faculty Candidate forum this afternoon and would like to submit feedback, please do so within 24 hours of the forum here.

Faculty/Staff Support Updates

  1. The Faculty Development Center (FDC) has developed a Summer 2020 Vision Series of opportunities designed to support the intentional, strategic redesign of summer courses and/or undergraduate research experiences. Most immediately, this includes an informal brainstorming chat later today from 4:45-5:45pm for the purpose of imagining together what courses and course adaptation strategies would be most valuable to our students during one of Furman’s two online summer sessions. We invite faculty and staff with courses already on the books as well as colleagues considering which course to offer in an online format to join us online here.
  1. Additional FDC learning opportunities in the weeks ahead include two sessions of a four-week Redesign to Teach Online planning series (one beginning next week), a planning model to Re-envision Summer Online Research Experiences in late April, and a four-week course on Remastering Summer Research Experiences in an online setting. Information about this suite of opportunities, including registration where appropriate, is available here.
  1. Next Wednesday, April 8th from 8:30-9:45am, the Faculty Development Center will offer an Application Activities to Assess Remote Learning workshop to evaluate forms of remote learning assessment; explore alternatives to our face-to-face practices; design or revise a learning assessment; and participate in a peer feedback process to inform revisions. You can register for the workshop here.
  1. For those instructors who wish to add individuals in the role of teacher to your Moodle courses, please consult these instructions for guidance about how to do so. We ask that you please attempt to complete this process first before contacting our ITS colleagues.
  1. As you begin to prepare for online summer course or research instruction, you might consider exploring some fundamental principles of web accessibility and inclusive design for online learning. The Student Office for Accessibility Resources (SOAR) suggests several free online courses. These include Introduction to Web AccessibilityIntroduction to Accessibility and Inclusive Design, and Basics of Inclusive Design for Online Education. Many of these courses start soon!

Student Support Updates

  1. The Office of Student Involvement & Inclusion (OSII) has pulled together a number of virtual activities as well as campus-wide engagement opportunities available to students. Check the page every Tuesday, as OSII will update this site with new suggestions and featured activities! Have a suggestion or something you’d like to highlight on the page? Contact us at virtualengagement@furman.edu.

Today’s Tip

As we plan ahead for our summer of online courses, we recognize that the sudden changes in course offerings, research opportunities, and extra-curricular activities has created challenging scheduling issues for many of our students. To help alleviate this issue, we encourage each of you to think creatively about what courses you might consider offering in the summer that might meet students’ scheduling needs.  Our double major students may especially appreciate a chance to get ahead with sought-after GERs (for example WC, HA, UQ, TA) or interdisciplinary major or minor courses, or students may benefit from taking a course that hasn’t been taught in a while (WGSS Women in Science, for example).

And finally…

At the end of our second week of remote instruction, we present to you this Ode to Zoom!

Sincerely,

The SART and Suzy

Monday, April 6

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to today’s edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions.

Key Updates for Today

  1. In recognition that the normal challenges of teaching, engaging in scholarly activities, advising, and serving the university have been significantly exacerbated this semester by the disruption caused by COVID-19, the Faculty Status Committee has recommended to the Dean and Provost that a process to extend the tenure clock of tenure-track faculty be made available. This recommendation, having been endorsed by the Faculty Executive Committee, means that effective March 28, 2020, all faculty members currently contracted in tenure-track positions have the option of extending their tenure clocks by one year, with notification of the desire to do so due August 1, 2020. In the coming days, members of the Faculty Status Committee, Provost Peterson, and Dean Summers will hold a forum to answer questions or address concerns about these policy amendments.
  1. Don’t forget to respond promptly to information requests from your chair regarding the status of any courses you planned to teach or potential course additions you might offer for this summer. This information is due to academic department chairs no later than tomorrow, April 7th.
  1. The Faculty Development Center invites faculty to take part in a research study about how our liberal arts community has made the shift to remote learning. The purpose of the study is to determine how our teaching identities intersect with the choices we are making in transitioning our courses to remote instruction. Your participation would be appreciated by completing this short, five question survey that should take you no more than 3 minutes to complete!
  1. Christopher Hutton, Faculty Chair, has posted an update in Box on the work of the Faculty Executive Committee. This includes a proposed slate of assignments to faculty standing committees for the 2020-21 academic year, including student representatives. If there are changes needed, then faculty should contact Lorraine DeJong, chair of the Nominating Committee.
  1. A reminder that as we continue to observe the university calendar, both Friday, 4/10 and Monday, 4/13 are university holidays. Faculty should avoid having synchronous meetings or assignments due on those days.

Faculty/Staff Support Updates

  1. To support the intentional, strategic redesign of summer courses and/or undergraduate research experiences, the Faculty Development Center (FDC) has developed a Summer 2020 Vision Series of opportunities, including two sessions of a four-week Redesign to Teach Online planning series (one beginning tomorrow), a planning model to Re-envision Summer Online Research Experiences in late April, and a four-week course on Remastering Summer Research Experiences in an online setting. Information about this suite of opportunities, including registration where appropriate, is available here.

 

Student Support Updates

Temporary Adjustments to Health Notifications: As we continue supporting remote learning and student development experiences, it has become a bit more difficult to document and verify student health issues in a timely manner. To address this concern, the Office of the Academic Deans has created a mechanism where students can report their current health needs so that you can be notified. While this information may be less urgent for asynchronous instruction, students have been instructed to maintain open and timely communication with their professors about specific requests for flexibility regardless of instructional design. You should be aware of the following:

  • If a student’s health situation might prevent them from completing coursework, documentation will be required and support teams will be activated to guide the student and you through the process.
  • If a student reports to you that they are ill, please raise a Health Notice – Housing, On call, and Surgery flag in Starfish. It would be helpful if you could provide additional information, including correspondence you received from the student, so that a proper response can be provided.

If you have any questions about this process please email Tracy Carner or Jeremy Cass.

 

Today’s Tip

Although highlighted in Friday’s digest, it is worth repeating: our sudden shift to remote instruction underscores the need for additional safeguards with regard to ensuring student privacy and compliance with federal laws, particularly the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). As you utilize the many valuable technologies available to engage your students through video interaction and endeavor to include all students in that process, please  adhere to these best practices to protect both your privacy and that of your students.

Sincerely,

The SART and Suzy

Wednesday, April 8

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to today’s edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Because Friday is a holiday, this will be the last digest you will receive this week. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions, which includes a new Summer 2020 section.

Key Updates for Today

  1. The deadline for students to apply for Fall housing has been extended to May. The most up-to-date information is available on the COVID-19 student website here. 

 

  1. Last month it was announced that two forums regarding the university’s draft Strategic Plan on Diversity and Inclusion would be held by Michael Jennings, Chief Diversity Officer, on April 14 and 15. In recognition of the current situation, those forums are going to be rescheduled for some time in May, after final exams, most likely in an online format.
  1. In times of daily uncertainty, it can be a comfort to engage an eager audience on topics that highlight our expertise and foster a culture of inquiry. Furman alumni are especially eager to remain connected to our community during this time. If you might be interested in sharing your knowledge with Furman alumni in a Zoom lecture, discussion, or concert, please contact Allison Foy.
  1. Today and tomorrow, Provost Peterson, Dean Summers, and representatives from the Faculty Status Committee will hold a forum for untenured faculty members to answer questions or address concerns about the recent policy amendments that provide faculty members currently contracted in tenure-track positions the option of extending their tenure clocks by one year. If you are an untenured tenure-track faculty member and have not received information about how to participate, please contact Lori Law.
  1. Please keep the following in mind as you prepare your summer 2020 online course offerings:
    1. If you are planning to adapt your MayX course (prefix MXP) for a summer 2020 session, these courses will require revision and redevelopment. Revised, reimagined MayX courses can be submitted for approval as temporary courses, perhaps with an IDS prefix. This process will require both department and curriculum committee approval.
    2. Unless a course you intend to offer this summer has already been approved for GER credit, GER credit cannot be granted retroactively. If your course has been adapted and you’d like for it to be considered for GER credit, a full GER proposal is required for APC approval.
  1. As the spring semester wraps up and you make adjustments to your final exams, assignments, and projects, don’t forget the following:
    1. Faculty should not feel pressured to administer traditional exams remotely in the current learning environment. Jeremy Cass, Associate Academic Dean, offers these policy thoughts as you design culminating experiences in your courses. All final exams or culminating projects, whether synchronous or not, should be completed by the end of the final exam period.
    2. Where possible, faculty are encouraged to consider alternative assessment measures to replace synchronous exams. Synchronous exams are challenging to administer remotely. Moreover, they also may not best serve your course’s revised learning objectives. Some ideas for alternative assessment measures include replacing exams with final projects or papers, converting a traditional exam to an applied take-home version, or utilizing the asynchronous exam format that is part of Furman’s learning management system, Moodle. Other options include open and closed-book application activities for your assessment.

Faculty/Staff Support Updates

  1. If you missed the first session of the Faculty Development Center’s Redesign to Teach Online planning course that started this week, another begins on May 4th! Additionally, in the weeks ahead, you have the opportunity to participate in an online planning model to Re-envision Summer Online Research Experiences (beginning April 20), and a four-week course on Remastering Summer Research Experiences in an online setting (launching May 6). Information about this suite of opportunities, including registration, where appropriate, is available here.
  1. While negotiating how best to manage the reality of home isolation, new opportunities arise for us, as educators, to learn and explore. Some creative ideas we’ve heard around our virtual campus this week include:
    1. Start a Garden: Modern Farmer has three simple ideas to kick-start a home garden with minimal investment. If you don’t have seeds, the Greenville County Library’s Seed Library has you covered, and will send a few seed varieties directly to you at home.
    2. Learn a New Wellness Routine: While free virtual exercise resources abound, ranging from yoga and dance to high intensity interval training, you might also consider how to move “creactively” during your time at home.
    3. Contribute to Citizen Science: Zooniverse is a citizen science web portal that is home to many of the internet’s most successful citizen science projects, some of which you can participate in at home!
    4. Connect with other work-from-home parents.  For ideas and more tips see this Harvard Business Review article.
    5. Go Birding From Your Porch/Window: Learn more about the birds in your backyard and contribute to real-time avian population data.
    6. Get Outside (At Home): Have a picnic, go camping, or create art with found objects all in your backyard. If you have children, consider projects like these that include weekly printable kits to explore the outdoor world right where you are.

Student Support Updates

  1. Writing and Media Lab consultants remain ready to support students and advance their writing process and skills. In pivoting to your final written projects and assignments, please be sure to highlight this resource.
  1. For students who experience test anxiety, a sudden switch to an online assessment format can elevate these feelings. In particular, high stakes online proctored exams can elicit elevated apprehension. You can help reduce online exam anxiety:
    1. First, ask yourself if there is a pedagogical justification for surveillance? Online proctoring is most useful for verifying the identity of the person taking the exam. Beyond that, if you intend to surveil your students during an exam, consider recommending students minimize their zoom window once the exam begins. This will allow you to continue to monitor each student, but will create a less distracting environment for those completing the activity.
    2. Second, you might review and share these suggestions with your students on reducing anxiety in remote testing environments. The Center for Academic Success has many additional test taking resources you can share as well.
    3. Finally, it is good practice to give students the following information well in advance of any online exam or assessment:
      • Is the test synchronous or asynchronous?
      • How much time will students have to complete the test?
      • Is the exam open book or notes?
      • How will students be able to communicate with you during the exam if they have a clarifying question? How will you communicate with students if there is a change or correction that needs to be made to the exam?
      • Will students be able to go back and revisit completed questions?

Today’s Tip

In our current circumstances, flexibility goes a long way as you work with your students to finish the next few weeks of classes. We’ve witnessed many of you demonstrate pedagogical flexibility that allows creativity with exam format, options for students to choose from various assignment designs, and new avenues for the submission of work. At its core, teaching is a creative process. Especially now, exercising such creativity with both empathy and compassion is the best way for us to practice community together.

Sincerely,

The SART and Suzy

Monday, April 13

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to today’s edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions, which includes a new Summer 2020 section.

Key Updates for Today

  1. When Furman moved to remote instruction in March, the Furman Libraries made the decision to support faculty and students by digitizing materials when no other avenue of access was available. We thank you for adhering to the provisions of fair use and tightly controlling access to materials through Box. Now, as we move towards creating a comprehensive online experience for students taking summer school courses, we ask that you think ahead as you plan your syllabus and use support materials that are readily available electronically. The Furman University Bookstore can assist you in finding electronic textbooks, and the Libraries can help you identify multi-user e-books or open educational resources  as alternatives to the traditional textbook model.
    • The Libraries are also prepared to purchase access to streaming videos and music, to buy electronic books, and to provide direct database access to journal articles whenever possible. Please use the forms available here to request library materials for your summer course. Your departmental liaison librarian is also available to help you identify materials for your course.
  1. Last Monday, you were invited to participate in a Faculty Development Center research study about how our liberal arts community has made the shift to remote learning. Thank you to everyone who elected to participate! For those who did participate, we would love to hear from you again, now another week into your remote instruction. We also welcome new participants. Anyone can participate by completing this short, five question survey that should take you no more than 3 minutes to complete.
  1. Don’t forget that fall textbooks orders are due this Friday April 17th.  As you select your fall textbooks, please consider contingency plans for virtual use and access of those resources should circumstances warrant. You may place your orders via FacultyEnlight or send your orders to books@furman.edu. If you email your order, please to include your course name, number, and section along with the book title, author, and 13-digit ISBN number.
  1. Tuition for summer session is assessed per credit enrolled. The rate this summer is $750 per credit (or $3,000 per course). Students enrolled exclusively in zero-credit courses will be charged $187.50(1/4 of one credit). Additional fees, such as housing or travel costs, may also be assessed as applicable.

 

Faculty/Staff Support Updates

  1. As University administrators work to make decisions about summer campus access and in-person interaction, the prospects for in-person summer research mentoring remain undetermined. While we recognize that this uncertainty can create challenges for summer research planning, we ask that you maintain as much flexibility as possible in your research planning so that we can best support students who are eager to participate in a signature Furman advantage research experience. Any in-person mentoring will depend upon being able to maintain the safety and well-being of our students, and thus Furman will be able to provide fellowship support only to those projects that adhere to any guidelines (Furman’s and/or the CDC’s) regarding social distancing and other recommended safeguards and procedures that will be in effect during the research experience.
    1. Information about campus policies after June 3rd will be communicated as soon as they are determined. In the meantime, you are encouraged to consider participating in the FDC Research Re-imagined Planning Module (beginning April 20), or a four-week course on Remastering Summer Research Experiences in an online setting (launching May 6). Information about both of these opportunities, including registration, is available here.
  1. At this point in your remote instruction journey, you may sense some students disconnecting in our virtual-only world. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Beth McMurtrie has assembled several ideas for reconnecting with your students. She also invites you to share your own ideas for creative engagement with students here.
  1. If, how, and when to gather teaching feedback from students during this unprecedented semester has been a lively part of the national higher education conversation over the past few weeks (you may have seen Jody Greene’s recent Chronicle piece entitled “How Not to Evaluate Teaching during a Pandemic”). Still, you may wish to collect formative feedback from your students to help plan for future course iterations. For this purpose, the Faculty Development Center and Office of Institutional Assessment has developed a question bank that faculty may utilize at their own discretion. No course-level institutional evaluation information will be collected this term. In all cases, each faculty member retains control of both the survey and the data collected.

Student Support Updates

  1. Housing and Residence Life is offering students an opportunity to participate in an online learning accountability program. Students will be matched with a First-Year Advisor (FRAD) who will check in with them at least once a week to see how they are doing in “our new normal.” This program is available to all students, not just first-year students. Students can click on this link and complete the form to sign up for the program.
  1. Housing and Residence Life has also created an online Moodle space for each campus living community. Students can connect with their neighbors and participate in virtual programs each week. RAs are still available as resources, helping students navigate new challenges. Information for all events and services will be posted in Moodle. The communities are labeled by area (e.g., “Housing and Residence: South Housing”). More information is available here.
  1. As you begin advising students about upcoming courses, your advisees may be interested in taking summer courses. Please spend time discussing the nature of summer courses, which are far more intense than a fall or spring course. If a student has never taken a summer course before, it is prudent to recommend taking no more than one course per summer session.

Today’s Tip

While you might recognize a sense of fatigue and disillusionment in your students at this point in our remote learning adventure, acknowledging those same feelings in ourselves is also important. Aisha S. Ahmad, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto, shares these reflections on what she has learned about remaining productive and happy in times of crisis. We remain hopeful you will find that, as Dr. Ahmed writes, “it is entirely possible to be peaceful, productive, and even happy under sustained disaster conditions.”

Sincerely,

The SART and Suzy

Wednesday, April 15

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to today’s edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions, which includes a new Summer 2020 section.

 

Key Updates for Today

Because of your commitment to our student body, we are fortunate to offer nearly twice as many summer courses this year! Special thanks to each of you for stepping up to create more learning opportunities within our community. As you prepare for summer courses, please keep in mind:

  1. In order to allow enough time to digitize textbook materials or locate hard-to-find titles, the Bookstore asks that all faculty and staff either submit their textbook orders via FacultyEnlight or email orders to books@furman.edu as soon as possible. For the Summer semester, faculty are asked to adopt the latest version of textbooks to make all resources available to students.
  2. It is not uncommon for online courses to implement minimum technical and software requirements. At a minimum, participants in most online courses will need some sort of internet connection and computer device, although more specific software, internet connection speeds, or equipment may be necessary for your course. While acceptable to set minimum standards for your courses, please do so with care (and in cases where the requirement is essential to complete the basic course functions) in order to reduce exclusivity as much as possible.
  3. Many of your advisees may be eager to take summer courses! Students may enroll in up to 12 credits total over both summer sessions, with an enrollment limit of 8 credits per summer session. However, students are strongly encouraged to only complete 4 credits per session due to the challenging nature of the compressed course timeline. Students may not enroll in more than 12 credits in the summer session without permission of the Associate Academic Dean.
  4. Summer course enrollment is capped at 20, and a course needs at least four students to be offered. Two weeks prior to the start of each summer session, course enrollment will be assessed, so that courses not meeting minimum enrollment standards can be cancelled.

 

Faculty Support Updates

In lieu of the Learning Exchange originally planned for this year, the FDC and the 2019-2020 Reflection Fellows cohort invite you to take part in a “Reflect to Reframe Breakfast” similar to Fall 2019’s Study Day event. Join us Wednesday, April 29th from 9-10:30 AM for a “bring your own breakfast” interactive conversation about the lessons we’ve learned this semester while transitioning our work, research, courses, and student interactions online. To register, visit this link. We look forward to connecting with you on the 29th!

Student Support Updates

  1. Advising has begun! Please note that the Advising Moodle page includes general advising resources and the April Advising newsletter. Please note that if you have not heard from an advisee prior to their advising window or if an advisee provides any indication that they are considering not returning in the fall please raise a General Advising Concern in Success@Furman. Finally, if you are unable to advise your students for any reason, please reach out to Brad Harmon or Michelle Horhota, who stand ready to help.
  2. The Writing and Media Lab has collated very timely online writing resources for students. As students prepare for final writing assignments and projects, please share these resources for additional support.

Today’s Tip: Promoting an Ethic of Care

Our community, in the face of significant constraints, has demonstrated great resiliency over the past several weeks. As some constraints grow for students, who may be dealing with mounting pressures at home, they may find it even more difficult to meet course deadlines and expectations. Recognizing the unprecedented nature of this situation, higher education institutions have wrestled with the best way to assess and assign grades, with some institutions opting to suspend the dispensation of letter grades altogether, some developing special transcript notations for the semester, and many others, like Furman, adapting institutional policies so that students have more flexibility in determining what is best for their unique situation.

Of central concern in this discussion is how to equitably encourage, support, and document student learning during a period in which students have highly disparate access to resources, educational support, and a flexible schedule. Recognizing these unequally distributed issues of access and opportunities to engage in the learning process this semester, we ask that you maintain Furman’s strong ethic of care, particularly as you work with students to assess and evaluate final course activities and grades. Maintaining an emphasis on equity and integrity upholds the best interests of our students.

And finally…

Although we recognize that your online persona has likely changed many times as you continue your remote learning adventure, we do wonder, as this student does, what type of online Professor are you???

Sincerely,

The SART and Suzy

Friday, April 17

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to today’s edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions, which includes a new Summer 2020 section.

Key Updates for Today

For those preparing for summer courses ahead, please don’t forget the following:

  • If you plan to meet synchronously for some part of the posted course meeting time and have not yet communicated with Dianna Wallwork, please contact her ASAP with your course synchronous times, so that students can make informed decisions about their summer school course(s). While there are no “requirements” for how you conduct your Summer School course, student feedback suggests that a mix of activities (both synchronous and asynchronous) has been the most successful in terms of upholding our shared teaching value of interaction.
  • For new classes recently added to the summer schedule, please submit your book requests here ASAP. Even if you haven’t finalized all selections, please submit partial requests for any books that you know students will need for the course.  Additional titles can be added later. Digital versions and using the most updated textbook edition are encouraged.
  • Students can order books online as per usual; these will be shipped directly to them (currently, shipping is free). Required coursepacks can be printed and shipped to students as P2X is still operating (M-F, 8-5). Additionally, the Bookstore can acquire and ship supplemental course kits if needed.
  • Finally, most summer courses should already have a Moodle course created. If yours is not among these, please email Service.Center@Furman.edu.

 

Student Support Updates

The Writing and Media Lab’s Jean Schwab has developed this short instructional video to walk your students through the process of presenting, recording, and sharing course presentation assignments using Microsoft Teams, a free application for all Furman students. As your students prepare final presentation material this semester, this simple option might prove effective.

 

Conference Canceled or Postponed?

Thanks to the Center for Engaged Learning’s leadership our students will have an opportunity to present their research during a virtual Furman Engaged! Day.  Those of you whose conferences have been canceled or postponed may also want your chance to shine at “Zoom University”.  To register, follow this link.

Today’s Tip: Synchronous and Asynchronous Summer Course Instruction

Unlike this past semester, when our community had to quickly transition courses designed for face-to-face interaction to a remote instruction environment, our decision to offer all summer courses online allows us the opportunity to design these courses specifically for the online environment. Decisions about the use of asynchronous and/or synchronous activities in your course should include careful consideration of (1) your course learning objectives, (2) the students who may enroll in those courses, and (3) the online instructional tools you are most comfortable with. Both synchronous and asynchronous activities can be effectively matched with your pedagogical aims to provide robust and rigorous instruction.

Structuring your course around intentional “nodes of synchronicity” is a simple strategy that won’t overwhelm you or your students and maintains the critical personal connections treasured in our liberal arts community. You might use Zoom or Microsoft Teams conservatively for purposeful, synchronous meetings in the form of (1) scheduled office hours (rather than class times), (2) individual consultations with students akin to advising appointments, or (3) recorded meetings with smaller groups of students.  These nodes of synchronicity add value to the student experience when they are used in conjunction with robust asynchronous strategies like interactive faculty-led discussion forums, collaborative group activities, short video lecture or lab simulations, or student study sessions.

Sincerely,

The SART and Suzy

Monday, April 20

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to today’s edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s list of learning opportunities and frequently asked questions, which includes a new Summer 2020 section. We’ve also added a new section today that includes pertinent information from the Faculty and Administrators Liaison Committee (FALC).

 

Key Updates for Today

Final Exams for Spring Term: To ensure that students are not asked to be in two places at once, if you plan to give a synchronous final exam this term, you need to do so on the day and time posted in the course listing. For those electing to give asynchronous final exams or culminating projects, students should submit those by the end of the scheduled final exam period for the class (e.g., by 2:30 PM on May 2 for a TR 1:00 PM class). Students with academic accommodations are responsible for setting up final exam accommodations through the SOAR office just as they would during in-person instruction.

FALC Q&A: Answering Your Questions

1. Is there any update to share from Enrollment Services on the status of Admissions?

Given rapidly changing global economic and health circumstances, the University cannot make predictions with confidence about the size or economic impact of the fall 2020 class or about retention. While we have faith and confidence in The Furman Advantage and our brand, information gleaned from national surveys suggests we would be prudent to plan for any number of contingencies over the next few months to years. Enrollment Services is closely monitoring national and institutional trends and will share information as it becomes available. Given this environment, the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid has created a suite of virtual opportunities, enabling admitted and/or prospective students to learn more about the Furman University student experience. Please help us share information about these events and encourage participation!

2. What types of plans are being discussed about fall classes?

With you, the administration is working with as much thoughtfulness and foresight as possible, under constantly changing and uncertain circumstances, to anticipate all possible contingencies for the fall: 1) in-person classes for the whole semester; 2) online instruction for the whole semester; 3) in-person for part and remote for part. We are also looking at potential adjustments to the academic calendar. As we continue monitoring the circumstances in the region and state, we will work with the appropriate faculty and administrative bodies to prepare for whichever contingency materializes and communicate decisions as quickly as possible with the understanding that flexibility is paramount in our current environment.

Student Support Updates

  1. The university has created the For Furman Fund for anyone who wants to provide financial support for students or the university during the pandemic.
  1. Now that advising has begun, you may be working with student athletes who are contemplating whether to take advantage of additional eligibility opportunities provided by the NCAA in response to the current global pandemic. When advising these students, please be sure that these students are working directly with their coaches, Rob Carson in the Center for Academic Success, and financial aid advisors. These decisions should be based on multiple factors, not all of which are immediately apparent to your students.

Today’s Tip

We are fortunate to live in an age where information is widely available and more accessible than ever. “Breaking news” headlines, however, seem to dominate our newsfeeds these days. As each day is filled with this constant stream of immediate and seemingly urgent information, you may find yourself feeling uneasy and upset. If this barrage of information is creating more frustration than benefit, you might consider these simple tips recently offered in Counseling Today for managing the current culture of breaking news.

Speaking of breaking news, you may be pleased to know that even the smallest among us are practicing appropriate public health safety protocols!

Sincerely,

The SART & Suzy

Wednesday, April 22

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to this Earth Day edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s frequently asked questions, which includes a new Summer 2020 section.

Key Updates for Today

  1. Although we can’t be together at this moment to congratulate them in person, our community has many student accomplishments to celebrate this year! If you haven’t already, we invite you to explore the many impressive Shucker Center for Leadership Development 2020 award winners and extend your congratulations to these dynamic members of our community.
  1. The deadline for applying for a Special Collections and Archives summer Faculty Fellowship has been extended to May 15. For full information, see the instructions here.

 

  1. It is National Library Week! To commemorate, the Furman Libraries have released special Zoom backgrounds of our beloved library spaces. Let’s all celebrate the tremendous support our Library colleagues have provided during our remote learning transition this semester.
  1. Christopher Hutton, Faculty Chair, has posted an update in Box on the work of the Faculty Executive Committee with an important note about supporting students through current challenges and a reminder about providing student award input.

 

Faculty/Staff Support Updates

 

  1. The Faculty Development Center is happy to provide ongoing pedagogical and instructional design support through our one-on-one or group consultation process. If you’d like to set up a time to chat with us about an online pedagogical practice, assessment strategy, or advancing your own professional development goals in the current circumstances, please submit a consultation request form.
  1. For those interested in utilizing the voluntary formative student course feedback survey questions developed by the Faculty Development Center and Office of Institutional Assessment to collect feedback from your students this semester, you may elect to do so via the Qualtrics or Moodle platforms. For step-by-step instructions to guide you through this process, please visit here.
  1. We are inching much closer to wrapping up the spring 2020 semester! This Friday, April 24th from 4:45-5:45pm, the Faculty Development Center invites you to gather in (virtual) community here with colleagues for relaxed conversation around what has worked in your courses this week, what didn’t, and your plans moving towards the summer.

 

Student Support Updates

As we continue with advising, Fall registration, and the conclusion of the Spring semester, we encourage you to continue to let the Center for Academic Success know of any concerns you have about student progress by raising flags or emailing directly. Please also be aware that for students with limited access to internet, a phone call or text may be a faster or more reliable way to be in touch if needed. Student cell phone numbers can be found in Success@Furman.

Today’s Tip

Especially during uncertain times, the natural world can give us a sense of comfort, renewal, and connection. On this 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, we hope you take some extra time to celebrate spring in the Upstate by enjoying time outdoors safely. Travel and Leisure magazine offers these nine activities to celebrate Earth Day from home this year!

Sincerely,

The SART and Suzy

Friday, April 24

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to today’s edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s frequently asked questions, which includes a new Summer 2020 section.

Key Updates for Today from FALC:

1) President Davis released this video today to respond to some of your questions about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our community.

2) When will restricted funds, such as research funds, be unfrozen? An inability to spend one’s research funds significantly hinders both teaching and research outcomes, not only short-term but also long-term.

You can expect that research funds in restricted accounts will be among the first to be unfrozen. Our revenue has declined and is expected to decline further, but our expenses have remained largely where they were several months ago. This puts pressure on our cash on hand, which is why we moved to reduce spending so quickly. The situation will be less severe if a) revenues rise, b) costs fall, or c) we have additional credit that would allow us to meet our cash demands for a longer period of time.

 

3) The President recently announced that there will be no merit raises for faculty, staff, and administration. First, does this mean there will be a cost of living increase? Second, can the Administration commit to giving a catch-up raise once our financial situation stabilizes, akin to what was done after the recession?

The administration remains committed to ensuring that Furman salaries remain competitive. However, until we determine the effects of the recession and the COVID-19 pandemic on our revenue streams, we must remain fiscally conservative and freeze spending. The United States and the world are experiencing an unprecedented drop in GDP. The market value of our endowment has declined by over $100 million. (You will recall that we spend approximately 5% of the endowment value annually, so this decline in endowment value translates into about $5 million less in annual spending.) Nationally, higher education scholars and pundits have speculated that the retention of current students might decline, and the number of accepted first-year students who elect to take a gap year might rise to proportions we haven’t seen before. With this level of uncertainty, we can’t currently make a commitment to future “catch-up” adjustments, and there will be no cost of living adjustment.

Faculty/Staff Support Updates

  1. Don’t forget that the FDC and the 2019-2020 Reflection Fellows cohort invite you to take part in a “Reflect to Reframe Breakfast” next week. Join us next Wednesday, April 29th from 9-10:30 AM for a “bring your own breakfast” interactive conversation about the lessons we’ve learned this semester while transitioning our work, research, courses, and student interactions online. To register, visit this link.
  1. As you begin to turn your attention to your summer research project(s), you might consider participating in the Faculty Development Center’s upcoming Remastering Your Summer Research Experience Course beginning early May. This four-week course will support an in-depth revision of your summer research project(s) to account for the constraints and opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon completion, participants will have developed a detailed plan of action, engagement, and assessment that supports transformative research experiences for Furman students and faculty. Register for the course here.
  1. Although the second session of the Faculty Development Center’s Redesign to Teach Online course is currently full, plans are being made to offer additional redesign opportunities in the coming weeks. If you have an interest in participating in a future course, please join the waitlist here.

Student Support Updates

  1. Now more than ever, we must work diligently to demonstrate the core benefits of a Furman educational experience. One hallmark aspect of that experience is the deep, personal connection students form with each of you. While current and future budgetary pressures are of acute concern, we each can make a positive difference through meaningful interaction with students by adopting some of these engagement strategies.
  1. As the financial, social, and physical ramifications of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic have become more widespread in the past several weeks, our students are now wrestling with very significant wellbeing challenges. As you work to maintain Furman’s strong ethic of care and compassion in your interactions with students, we ask that you consider the following:
    1. If you plan to administer a synchronous final exam, please consider shortening the exam slightly and developing a contingency plan to provide flexibility to students who may face major impediments—such as time zone differences, interruptions to internet access, sick family members, etc.–limiting their ability to engage fully during a narrow 2.5 hour-window provided for the exam.
    2. Although there may be cases where students will need to withdraw from a course if there is indeed no reasonable path for them to meet course learning objectives, we encourage you to offer this as advice to students only as a last resort this semester. As much as possible, please invite students who may have fallen behind into a conversation about how they can work with you to develop a plan to successfully meet course learning objectives. The Center for Academic Success is happy to work with you and your students in this process. This includes discussing the potential to assign an incomplete and develop a plan of action to submit missing work over the next several weeks. Often, students need to be reminded that an incomplete does not signify failure, but is an acknowledgment of the extraordinary nature of our present circumstances.
    3. You might be interested in this recent article in Inside Higher Ed that poses important questions for us all to consider when “grading for a pandemic”. Many of you have already worked with your colleagues and within your departments to adopt “pandemic emergency standards”.
    4. Please keep in mind that students receive comments you submit when you raise an Academic Performance Concern flag. While honest assessment of a student’s situation is appreciated, we encourage you to frame these comments in such a way that students are inspired by potential pathways forward instead of discouraged into resignation.
  1. The Furman Writing and Media Lab Consultants have come together to offer a few words of advice in this video to their fellow students about finding productive ways to remain attentive to academic responsibilities while also supporting personal wellbeing and care during our period of remote instruction. These useful tips will benefit us all, but you are especially encouraged to share this resource with your students!

Today’s Tip

You’ve made it through the last full week of remote instruction and will soon close out what has been an immensely challenging semester for us all. Before the week comes to a close, we hope you might take just a few moments to reflect on one thing that has given you hope over the past few weeks. Better yet, take a few moments to look through these 30 images of solidarity.

With gratitude,

The SART and Suzy

Tuesday, April 28

Tuesday, April 28

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to the LDoC edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s frequently asked questions.

 

Key Updates for Today:

  1. A hearty congratulations on the conclusion of your spring 2020 classes! In the spirit of celebrating this achievement, we challenge each of you to take five minutes to soak up a little happiness shared by jazz pianist Christian Sands.
  1. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted normalcy all over the world, and while it’s keeping Paladins away from campus, Furman is home wherever you are. To bring us a little closer together, the University is sharing stories about what some of your fellow students, faculty and alumni are doing during the pandemic. To share your story, complete this form or email social@furman.edu.
  1. The commencement committee is coordinating communication about commencement celebrations. Announcements will be made via University Communications and social media. There is an effort to encourage students who have purchased regalia to commemorate their graduations virtually and post pictures that celebrate their accomplishment. Students may elect to order graduation regalia now, and then will have their cap, gown, and hood ready to go for an alternative ceremony on a future date. However, students are not required to order regalia at this time and the bookstore will be ready to take regalia orders once plans are announced for a fall ceremony. As they typically do under normal circumstances, academic departments may also find ways to celebrate their students’ accomplishments.

FALC Questions and Answers:

I have a question about teaching summer school remotely. This spring, the suddenness and dramatic nature of the switch from regular classroom sessions to remote learning encouraged us to relax some academic regulations such as withdrawal deadlines, pass-fail options, etc. Will those more lenient rules still be in place during the summer?

The decisions made regarding academic policies this semester were due to the sudden switch from in-person to remote learning midway through the semester. The summer differs in that the courses will be online for the duration and the decision to teach or take classes is optional. The withdrawal deadline and pass-fail option for the summer will not be relaxed.

In President Davis’s email regarding COVID-19’s economic impact on Furman, she mentioned that the University would not provide merit raises for the coming fiscal year. What implications might this have on faculty promotions in Spring 2021? Will faculty eligible for promotion from assistant to associate or from associate to full professor still be able to apply for promotions?

If eligible, faculty will be able to apply for tenure and/or promotion during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Faculty/Staff Support Updates

  1. Tomorrow, April 29th, the FDC and the 2019-2020 Reflection Fellows cohort invite you to take part in a “Reflect to Reframe Breakfast” event. Join us from 9-10:30 AM for a “bring your own breakfast” interactive conversation about the lessons we’ve learned this semester while transitioning our work, research, courses, and student interactions online. To register, visit this link.

 

  1. As some of you prepare for summer courses or look ahead to the fall, you may want to access previous course materials in Moodle, so that you can reutilize some of the content you created online. For information about how to access past courses in Moodle, please see here.
  1. Although the end of spring classes is indeed reason to celebrate, we also recognize the compounding nature of the stress and anxiety our community has experienced over the past several weeks. Furman’s employee support services remain fully functional. Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has created a webinar that provides many tips for how employees can cope with the impact of the current pandemic. The EAP also provides free counseling services. Several additional resources you might utilize include:

Student Support Updates

A big thank you for your support of our students through our fall advising process. We particularly appreciated your help raising General Advising Concern flags in Success@Furman for students who were difficult to track down for advising or who indicated that they were considering not returning in the fall. The Center for Academic Success has been working expeditiously to follow up with any student identified in this process.

Today’s Tip

Over the coming weeks, months, and years, we will have many opportunities to reflect on what this unprecedented semester has taught us and what it means for our community and the broader world of higher education. Despite the challenges our rapid transition brought, we’ve also heard powerful stories about what we’ve gained during this period. You might be interested in this post where Caroline Levander and Peter Decherney suggest that our foray into remote instruction has provided an opportunity to become “more human”. We are especially grateful for how, throughout this challenge, our community has come together around our shared humanity. Today, at the end of the LDoC, that shared sense of care for one another, along with a shared belief in the power of learning and development, will guide us through any challenges ahead to a brighter—and perhaps more empathically human—future.

With gratitude,

SART and Suzy

Friday, May 1

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to May and to today’s edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s frequently asked questions.

Message from the former Interim Dean of Faculty:

 

Dear Colleagues,

As of today our new Dean of Faculty, Jeremy Cass, assumes his role. Congratulations Jeremy! I would like to express my deepest gratitude to those who agreed in early March to become part of this team.  The dedication by SART to help faculty successfully transition from in-person to remote learning has been unwavering and, I believe, successful. SART has used the Digest as a way to help keep the Furman community informed, and I have been heartened by the positive responses.  The valuable members of the SART team include Judy Bagley, Diane Boyd, Tracy Carner, Jenny Colvin, Susan Dunnavant, Ben Haywood, Christopher Hutton, Mary Alice Kirkpatrick, Mac McArthur, Caroline Mills, Vicky Turgeon and Mike Winiski. I would like to extend special thanks to Diane Boyd, Ben Haywood and Mary Alice Kirkpatrick.  The Digest would not exist without them.  Being a part of this team has been extremely rewarding and I am grateful to you all.

I look forward to returning to the classroom in the fall, although this has been an exciting year in ways that I could never have expected!  Having had the opportunity to work with our Academic Affairs team demonstrated to me that Furman could not have better leadership.

Finally, thank you all for your support and patience over the past year.  It was a privilege to be the interim dean of such an impressive, dedicated and adaptable faculty.

I wish you a summer of rejuvenation and good health.

Best wishes,

Suzy

Key Updates & Reminders for Today:

  1. On Wednesday, President Davis released this campus communication with updates about campus events for the summer and ongoing institutional planning processes. Several highlights include:
    • All on-campus summer events and residential activities are cancelled or postponed through Aug. 1.
    • In addition to summer courses, all undergraduate research and campus internships will be conducted remotely this summer.
    • Plans for the fall semester will be announced by mid- to late June.
  1. As decisions are made about faculty access to campus buildings for research purposes, these will be communicated promptly. Until then, all University employees should follow the protocol outlined here when requesting campus access.
  1. Please keep in mind the following University policies with regard to COVID-19 diagnosis reporting:
    • Employees working on campus who (1) have received orders for COVID-19 testing or (2) have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 should notify Human Resources as soon as possible. Employees working remotely who (1) have received orders for COVID-19 testing or (2) have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 and have been on campus or in close contact (within 6 feet) with other employees should notify Human Resources as soon as possible.
    • It is mandatory for students to report positive COVID-19 tests if they have been on campus for any reason within 48 hours of having COVID-19 symptoms or if they have come into close contact with anyone on campus (students, faculty, or staff) within 48 hours of having COVID-19 symptoms. Positive tests should be reported by emailing studentlife@furman.edu.
    • There is no current policy that students or employees report a positive COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure unless they meet the criteria highlighted above.
  1. On Monday, May 11th, Moodle will be taken offline starting at 5:00 am for a maintenance upgrade. The system will remain unavailable until sometime between 1:00 and 4:00 PM, upon completion of the upgrade. During the maintenance window, the Moodle system will be updated to version 3.8.  Once the system upgrade is complete, users will be able to benefit from both new and improved features, including support for interactive modules and forum enhancements. There will be no significant change made to the look and feel of the Furman Moodle system as a result of this upgrade.
  1. If you missed participating in Furman Engaged this year, you are in luck! Virtual Furman Engaged is now available online. You received instructions on Wednesday about how to access more than 145 presentations that feature over 225 Furman students. View short documentaries, enjoy concerts and performances, examine summer research posters, and listen to senior capstone project presentations online now.

Faculty/Staff Support Updates:

  1. For those interested in utilizing the voluntary formative student course feedback survey questions developed by the Faculty Development Center and Office of Institutional Assessment to collect feedback from your students this semester, you may elect to do so via the Qualtrics or Moodle platforms. For step-by-step instructions to guide you through this process, please visit here.
  1. Now that classes have ended and you begin to turn your attention to your summer research project(s), you might consider participating in the Faculty Development Center’s upcoming Remastering Your Summer Research Experience Course beginning early May. This four-week course will support an in-depth revision of your summer research project(s) to account for the constraints and opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon completion, participants will have developed a detailed plan of action, engagement, and assessment that supports transformative research experiences for Furman students and faculty. Register for the course here.
  1. Over the past several weeks, each of you has committed tremendous energy to your course transition efforts and student support. As the semester begins to wind down, we hope you redirect some of that energy towards care of yourself. Faculty vitality guru Kerry Ann Roquemore of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity offers the three reflective prompts below for navigating life in an ongoing crisis. We encourage you to ask yourself these simple questions in the weeks ahead:
    • What do I need (physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually)?
    • What am I choosing to do with the things under my control?
    • What’s good in this?

Student Support Updates:

  1. The textbook rental return date for the spring semester has been extended to 6/15/20. Please remind students you work with that they can return their rentals by following these steps.
  1. With classes having ended, it is too late for any student to withdraw from a course. You now may be communicating with students, particularly those who fell significantly behind on submitting coursework, about the feasibility of developing a plan to meet course learning objectives successfully. While each case is different and the decision to assign either a failing grade or an incomplete grade is the sole discretion of the individual faculty member, the Academic Dean’s Office offers the following guidance:
    • While our approach to helping students successfully finish the semester should be very similar to what we would do in any other semester, it is important to bear in mind that given current circumstances we may have more students than usual who could benefit from the grace and flexibility of having an extra week or two to complete outstanding assignments.
    • For students who are communicating with you and who are falling short of being able to complete coursework in time, an incomplete grade may be an appropriate compromise to allow them to finish your course successfully.
    • For students who are not communicating or engaging you, or students for whom missing work, participation, or communication were problematic prior to our transition to remote instruction, an incomplete grade may not be an appropriate accommodation without a clear agreement of the terms and plan from the student.
    • Any instructor considering an incomplete grade is encouraged to communicate and confirm the terms and due date expectations in writing with the student prior to awarding a grade of incomplete.
    • Incomplete grades for the Spring 2020 semester will convert to failing grades June 15.
  1. In an effort to streamline communication to students, Student Life has launched a regular email digest to our student body. Because many of you regularly advise and support our students, you may be interested in this information. Now you can access this information in the “Furman Student Life Email Digest Archives” section here.

 

FALC Questions and Answers:

 

I have an idea that the administration might ponder as it considers Furman’s immediate future. The idea is simple: shift the start of the 20/21 academic year to January 2021. Run fall term in spring 2021, spring term in summer 2021 and then resume the normal Furman schedule with the fall 2021 term. (I don’t think there would be time for May X.) As I see it, there will be a tremendous amount of uncertainty surrounding the fall 2020 start date. Students and parents will have to make decisions soon about where to go to school, whether they should take a gap year, etc. All the uncertainty will depress yield. And don’t even ask me what I think about starting next term with online courses if that is a possibility! Removing the uncertainty, promising first-year students that they will start with their class–in person–in January, and opening the probability that all (but the class of 2021) will graduate on time will be very attractive to students and parents. We avoid disruption if a second or third wave of the virus comes through SC forcing us to send students home. And we give a vaccine time to inoculate the herd (so to speak). We also avoid having to tell some students they can’t come back to school because their state or country is now a hotspot for virus, nor do we put our own community at risk by bringing a bunch of college students from all over the world back to Greenville. As for this fall, we would teach a kind of second summer school for students and faculty who don’t mind an online environment. None of this would be easy. There would be no guarantee it would work any better than the alternatives. It would certainly break with our peer institutions (I know, liberal arts colleges are generally unwilling to break ranks with the herd!). But it just might lead the way to a less disruptive future. Thoughts?

Although we are focusing our efforts on opening the campus in the fall, the uncertainty we face necessitates consideration of alternative contingency plans.  These alternatives will address the method of delivery as well as the timing of classes in the fall.  The Emergency Management and Operations Teams are actively considering such questions as they work to provide a full spectrum of contingency plans for the fall 2020 semester.

In previous communication, students were requested to report COVID-19 infections to Student Life. Are these reports considered mandatory? Now that students have not been around one another and current infections would not require notification of roommates, etc., we are in a different situation than when the communication first came out. I have not had students report infections to me, but several have told me about family members infected, so I anticipate students telling me when they become infected. If they are expecting me to hold something in confidence, I would like to be able to encourage them to talk with Student Life, Academic Deans office, etc., but as of now, I am assuming that I have no obligation to report such infections to the university myself. 

Reports of positive Covid-19 test results for students are no longer mandatory for those students who:

(1) are not on campus;

(2) have not returned to campus within 48 hours of exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19;

(3) have not come into close contact with other students or university employees within 48 hours of exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19.

Reports of positive Covid-19 test results are still mandatory for those students who continue to reside in campus housing.

Students were recently notified of this updated reporting protocol.

We are mindful of the importance of respecting students’ privacy, however in the interests of maintaining the health and safety of the entire Furman community, it is crucially important that positive Covid-19 test results for those students who are on or have been on campus or have been in close contact with individuals who are on or have been to campus be reported in a timely manner. Such students should email StudentLife@furman.edu.

 

To Cap Off Your Week

If you like your Beatles with a humorous side dose of current reality, you might enjoy this video, produced by a Furman colleague’s sister’s choir in Chiang Mai, Thailand!

Finally, a Word of Thanks

The Strategic Academic Redesign Team was catalyzed by interim Dean of Faculty Dr. Suzy Summers. As she has throughout her leadership, Dean Summers assembled this group because she knew that careful coordination, regular interaction and communication, and a steadfast dedication to our core mission of providing transformative educational experiences for our students would be central to the remote transition of our teaching, learning, and student support services. She has provided unwavering commitment to this goal. As she transitions out of the interim Dean of Faculty role today, we want to acknowledge her inspiring leadership of our academic community and thank her for her vision, leadership, and service.

With gratitude for her leadership,

The SART and Jeremy

Tuesday, May 5

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to today’s edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s frequently asked questions.

Key Updates & Reminders for Today:

  1. Although the announcement of a number of prestigious awards has been delayed, we are happy to share that Professor Buchmueller was recently named the South Carolina Academy of Sciences’ inaugural Undergraduate Teacher of the Year and was just featured in this recent Greenville Journal story. Congratulations!

 

  1. As you finish grading your final exams and projects this week and work with your students to close out the semester, please keep the following in mind:
    • Grades are due by 5pm this Friday, May 8th.
    • The deadline for using the pass-no pass grading option has been extended for May 2020 degree candidates until May 18.
    • As you work with students to determine whether an incomplete is appropriate or not, you might consider taking a critical look at the “time litmus test.” The central question to consider is whether, based on your interactions to this point, more time would help the student overcome an unanticipated hurdle that has prevented success. If the answer is yes AND you’ve agreed—with the student—upon a clear plan outlining how the student will complete missing work within the extra time allotted, then an incomplete may be appropriate.
  1. Once students complete their coursework this week, they will not have the same daily and weekly avenues through which to connect with our Furman community. Before they “depart” for the summer, we hope you will consider ways to maintain connection with your students by adopting some of these engagement strategies.
  1. Another virtual “shout out”: Use of Moodle, Furman’s Learning Management System, has provided a consistent, reliable online platform for students to utilize this semester. Although Moodle was widely utilized prior to our remote transition, recent usage has increased significantly. Use of the gradebook feature, for example, has increased from 68% just three years ago to 92% today. Special thanks to our ITS team for their ongoing support of the platform, and to all of you who made use of this resource, to bolster student learning and engagement.
  1. For those already in summer planning mode, the Furman Libraries are migrating to a new library services  platform on June 1st. Although we don’t anticipate any problems, this change may temporarily disrupt access to electronic books and journals for you and your students. Though our resources will be fully accessible when summer classes begin on June 8th the links to those resources in the catalog may appear broken. If you plan a research-intensive assignments for your class during that period, please get in touch with your Liaison Librarian so that we can ensure your students have the support that they need. For additional information and a “Sneak Peek” of our new system go to https://libguides.furman.edu/library/new-system.

 

Faculty/Staff Support Updates:

The Office of Human Resources maintains up-to-date information about employee policies and support services during the COVID-19 pandemic on their website. We encourage you to visit this page regularly for any questions about our employee resources or institutional expectations.

 

Student Support Updates:

As the adrenaline from our sudden remote transition and final exams subsides, your students may need reminding that The Furman Counseling Center has assembled a number of resources for anyone in need of mental health support. Students are encouraged to communicate directly with a member of the Counseling Services team for personalized support. Detailed information about mental health support services can be found on Furman’s COVID-19 response page here.

 

Today’s Tip

As we all do our part to ensure the health of our communities, our annual celebrations and events take on a different, less social flavor. But that doesn’t have to stop us from commemorating important events and traditions. On this Cinco de Mayo, instead of large gatherings with live music, the Los Angeles Times offers these five suggestions for celebrating Mexican culture and heritage from home.

The SART and Jeremy

Friday, May 8

Dear colleagues,  

Welcome to the final day of the semester edition of a series of digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s frequently asked questions. 

Key Updates and Reminders for Today 

  1. Please remember that on Monday, May 11th, Moodle will be taken offline starting at 5:00 am for a maintenance upgrade. The system will remain unavailable until sometime between 1:00 and 4:00 PM, upon completion of the upgrade. During the maintenance window, the Moodle system will be updated to version 3.8.  Once the system upgrade is complete, users will be able to benefit from both new and improved features, including support for interactive modules and forum enhancements. There will be no significant change made to the look and feel of the Furman Moodle system as a result of this upgrade. 

 

  1. To keep you informed about messages our students are receiving during the pandemic, you can access the second weekly Student Life DINformation newsletter to students here (scroll to bottom of page).  

 

Faculty/Staff Support Updates 

Several software programs remain free through the summer, including SPSS, which can be loaded on a student account at no charge, and Adobe Creative Cloud. If you are interested in either of these programs, please contact Susan Dunnavant 

 

Student Support Updates 

Although our inability to gather in person tomorrow to celebrate the graduation of our senior class is disappointing, there are ways you can commemorate the occasion and celebrate our students. Don’t forget that: 

Best wishes to all, 

The SART and Jeremy