COVID-19 Academics and Instruction Updates (SVPP COVID-19 Communication #2)

Last updated March 24, 2:00 PM

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

Amongst the ever-evolving situation related to coronavirus responses and preparations at ISU, my office is focused on academic continuity and communications to support faculty, staff, and students during this unprecedented time of disruption.

I intend to develop regular communication to address specific academic and instruction issues that are not found in other FAQs related to ISU's coronavirus response. This communication will address issues or questions that will continue to arise over the next number of weeks. 

Each release will be sent to faculty via department chairs and simultaneously posted to the CELT homepage, Teaching News section, and SVPP websites. Additional Guidance for Academic Affairs Programs in Response to COVID-19 from Provost Wickert is available on the SVPP website. 

Communication to Students

Students have several questions on what the transition to online coursework will entail. You need to communicate with your students promptly, even if you don't have a plan in place. Inform them that changes are coming and what your expectations are for checking email or Canvas (ISU’s learning management system); you can get them more details soon. The Prioritize and Communicate section on CELT’s website is a great starting place.

Consider referring students to the Course Continuity for Students site, which can answer many of general questions students are having about accessing course content, attending virtual lectures, and submitting assignments. The site also includes information on student accommodations during a disruption, steps students can take to stay motivated, and other resources for students. The Academic Success Center also has an updated service delivery plan (i.e., supplemental instruction, tutoring, etc.). 

General questions we are hearing from students now:

  • How does this impact progress toward my degree/graduation? ISU is focusing our efforts on keeping the semester on track so students can finish their courses and keep progressing in their degree programs.
  • What do I do if I don’t have internet access, or have limited internet access? Our faculty should proactively work with students to identify those who may anticipate internet issues. This will enable faculty to identify the potential issues and solutions in collaboration with the student early, rather than let the matter go unaddressed. Flexibility may be needed to address individual student situations. 
  • What will happen with assignments/exams due March 23-April 3? Consider postponing these due dates to allow time for students to adjust to the new online format. Provide an updated syllabus to reflect these changes.
  • How will the transition to online courses impact labs, recitations, undergraduate research, capstone design projects, and other academic commitments? Lab- and experience-based courses, including faculty-mentored research for credit, will be modified on a course-by-course basis. Instructors will contact their students with more information about meeting these requirements.

Online Instruction

The CELT site has a "Quick Start Guide" with strategies to help faculty continue to teach during this unexpected change to online course delivery. 

Exams and the Online Testing Center

ISU has closed ALL online testing centers until further notice.

Possible Alternatives to Using the Online Testing Center

1) Pedagogical Alternatives:

a. Allow students to take non-proctored Canvas examinations (called quizzes in Canvas) using best practices for maximum security including, question groups, shuffling questions, and time limits.  
b. Consider other methods within Canvas such as homework, quizzes, discussion postings that allow for assessment of the same content.

2) Technology Alternatives:

a. Consider Online Proctoring: CELT is evaluating options for necessary online proctoring. More information is available at their "explore online delivery methods" site. 
b. Top Hat allows for student quizzing; best practices should be used for Top Hat quizzing.   

3) Other Alternatives:

a. If the exam was a paper-based exam, consider making it an open book examination.  Students would then need to take a picture or scan the document and submit it as an assignment in Canvas.
b. Consider delaying the exam and/or including the exam content on a comprehensive final exam. 

Electronic Course Materials

The ISU Bookstore has confirmed that ISU faculty and students will have FREE access to their eBooks and courseware products for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. They have also confirmed that RedShelf, the Immediate Access/Digital Course Material software platform provider, has been pre-approved to launch free access to publisher ebooks (as long as the title exists as an ebook) through the platform integrated into Canvas.  

Review the Digital Course Materials with ISU Book Store page, or contact John Wierson, Digital Course Materials Buyer, jwwiers@iastate.edu; Heather Dean, Assistant Director/Course Materials Manager, hdean@iastate.edu; Carl Arbuckle, Print Course Materials Buyer, carabuc@iastate.edu.

Access to Computer Labs on Campus

Computer laboratories are shut down and locked until further notice. Students should not have access to use computer laboratories for courses, for study, or to engage in online learning during this period.

ISU Libraries

As a result of Governor Reynold's emergency proclamation to prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people, all ISU libraries are closed until further notice.