Academic continuity plan – March 10

Provost Chris Zappe and VP for Information Technology Rod Tosten sent the following message to faculty as “Plans to maintain academic continuity.” It contains information on preparing for remote learning.

Dear Colleagues:

Earlier this evening the College communicated to campus that we have made the decision to extend spring break by a week through Sunday, March 22.

As you know, the College has been monitoring the challenges presented by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) diligently over the past few weeks. The situation is rapidly evolving and presents a set of unprecedented questions which all of higher education is seeking the best possible answers in an uncertain context.

This additional week will ensure that we have a fuller complement of information available to us to help determine how we will operate for the remainder of the semester. This additional time will also enable us to work proactively with faculty to begin training for a remote-learning option if we decide to go in that direction.

Please know that the College has yet to decide if we need to move in this direction.

This communication is designed to open the door for conversation around how the College would allow students to complete their academic coursework through short-term remote instruction.

In consultation with College leadership and the Campus Emergency Response Team, we are writing to ask that all faculty consider what it would take to make an immediate shift to remote course delivery, should the spread of the Coronavirus in our local community require significant disruptions to campus operations, including the adjustment of on-campus class sessions, for an extended period of time.

Specifically, we ask you to consider the following situations:

  1. You are sick and under quarantine yourself—how would you ensure instructional continuity if you cannot attend your own class? What resources would be required?
  2. Imagine that 10% of your students are under quarantine for 2 weeks—how would you ensure instructional continuity for these students? What resources would be required?
  3. If you are not able to teach classes in person, what are the minimum viable course goals/content for all of your classes? Are you (theoretically) able to meet these goals via remote instruction methods (with or without support)? If so, what resources would be required?
  4. What academic technology skills would you need to refresh or to learn to allow you to shift from regular class meetings to fully remote educational delivery?

Below, we are sharing with you some resources compiled by the JCCTL and Educational Technology that may be helpful to you as you contemplate the possibility of moving to remote instruction if we are suddenly unable to hold classes on-campus for an extended period of time:

  • We have developed a Moodle site with resources and information covering the core instructional technologies that we will support—Moodle, Zoom, and Screen-cast-omatic—as well as additional technologies and instructional guidance. This site does not require enrollment—log into Moodle and use the search bar to find “What do I do if I can’t have class?”
  • Moodle will be a primary tool in the event of limited face-to-face access. There are variety of short instructional videos about all aspect of Moodle use available in the “What do I do if I can't have class?” site.
  • Zoom is video-conferencing software and we can create accounts/streams as needed. For shorter sessions—less than 40 minutes—it is freely available at https://zoom.us/. If you are already comfortable using another tool for video-conferencing, that is fine, we just may not have accounts or be able to provide assistance as quickly. We have some Zoom support documents in the “What do I do if I can’t have class?” site.
  • We will be providing in-person workshops on these technologies—we strongly encourage you to pay attention to the digest for times and places of these workshops as we finalize the schedule.
  • Sharon Birch, Carrie Szarko, and Eric Remy will be holding drop in training sessions on Moodle tools, Zoom videoconferencing and Screencast-o-matic in Glatfelter computer labs 011 and 014 on Wednesday, March 11th, 2-4 PM and Thursday, March 12th, 2-4 PM
  • IT has loaner laptops available for faculty needing a mobile device for remote instruction.
  • Gettysburg College Academic Continuity webpage

Please keep in mind that if any of these scenarios become reality, these voluntary training options may become required.

We understand the tremendous impact a change like this will put on members of our community. We greatly appreciate your professionalism, spirit of collaboration, and resourcefulness in tackling these challenges.

Sincerely,

Chris Zappe, Provost
Rod Tosten, Vice President for Information Technology