Coronavirus information

Visit the UA coronavirus information website to learn how the University of Alaska is responding to the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 situation and find links to communications, policy guidance and resources.

Academic Continuity (Faculty Guidance)

UAA is moving to alternate delivery of its classes starting March 23. Our primary goal, after the safety and health of our students and employees, is instructional continuity and course completion. 

 

GIVEN THE DYNAMIC SITUATION OF COVID-19, THE BELOW GUIDANCE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

  • Keep it simple.  This situation is complex and fluid.  Your approach to shifting to alternate delivery should be clear and manageable for you and your students.

  • Change your expectations for what you and your students must do. Focus on the student learning outcomes. SLOs are the foundation of our instruction; remember that there may be a variety of ways to meet them. You should feel empowered to change your assignments, lectures, and assessments in order to meet the SLOs.

  • Continue to maintain open channels of communication with your students.  This is important both for maintaining instructional continuity, and for reducing the anxiety associated with the current situation. Continue to share expectations around communication, how you will deliver and accept assignments, as well as any changes to the course.

  • Leverage the UAA tools you are comfortable with. While it is recommended that Blackboard be activated and used for ongoing communication, you are in the best position to decide what type of alternate delivery is best suited to your course. Options could include things like audioconference or web-conference, fully online delivery or recorded lectures. CAFE and Academic Innovations and eLearning are working together to provide both pedagogical and instructional technology ideas and guidance for you.

  • Consider using asynchronous methods when possible. Please keep in mind that students will be managing work and home situations and their schedules might be changing, making it difficult for them to attend at the regular course meeting times. In addition, adequate internet access (time, technology, and/or bandwidth) is a luxury not available in all homes and all parts of our state.

You are amazing, and you are key to helping our amazing Seawolves through this challenging time!

CLASS MEETINGS AND OTHER STUDENT INTERACTIONS

Q. What are options for collecting course assignments?

A. Faculty will need to consider alternate forms of submission for assignments. For instance, if you would usually expect an assignment to be submitted in hard copy, consider submission through Blackboard, a shared Google Doc, or having it sent to you as an email attachment.  

In any case, be very clear to communicate to students their options and your expectations.

Q. Can an instructor change the class meeting schedule if a previously synchronous, face-to-face course is now in alternate delivery?

A. Given the current situation, asynchronous delivery is preferable.  However, if you do meet synchronously with your entire class via Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, or Hangouts, please hold those meetings at the previously designated days and times. Students may be enrolled in more than one class, have family obligations, and/or work commitments that were taken into consideration when they selected the day/time for your face-to-face class. 

Q. If instruction for a course is conducted through individual meetings, is there a requirement to cancel in-person student-instructor meetings or may these continue? 

A. Except for courses where the chancellor has enacted an exception, you should not conduct any in-person instruction or meetings for the designated period of time. Individual meetings may be handled through Zoom or via other interactive tools.

Q. Attendance and active participation are important to the learning outcomes in my course. What if some students have limited capacity to participate due to self-quarantine or other issues arising from the current situation?

A. Instructors should be flexible with attendance and participation requirements during any period of temporary alternate delivery or if a student is in quarantine. Ideally, students may be able to participate via distance but, if that will not work, you might suspend or modify the participation point requirement, average participation scores based on previous activities, or just go with participation points from earlier in the term and adjust the point total for the course. Students should not be penalized for having to be in quarantine.

Q. Can students engaged in community-based or service learning projects continue to work on those projects on campus or at sites off campus?

A. Students should abide by the rules established by the organization with which they have been assigned. If it is necessary for the project to cease for a particular student or for the entire class, instructors are encouraged to work with the student(s) to identify alternative options to bring the project to a reasonable conclusion, particularly if it is part of course requirements for the term.  Even if the experience has been shorter than originally anticipated, it may be possible to move forward with your planned post-placement work. Examples of options that might be considered include reflections, data analyses, written reports, or recommendations and planning for a future project with the same community partner or on a similar topic.

For now, if you have a course that involves community-based or service learning, please connect with the Center for Community Engagement and Learning for best practice ideas and additional guidance.

Q. Can students doing undergraduate research continue to work on their research projects on campus or at sites off campus?

A. TBD.

Q. Can graduate students doing research continue to work on their research projects on campus or at sites off campus?

A. This is under consideration.  If graduate research activities should cease, faculty should work with the student(s) to identify alternative options for pausing or completing the project and earning any credit for the term. Examples of options that might be considered include readings, data analyses, written reports or further project planning. If a student is not planning to graduate this semester, a deferred grade (DF) or Incomplete grade (I) might be a good option.

Please direct additional questions to your dean or the Graduate School. 

Q. Can an instructor change their class meeting schedule for the last week of the term (finals week)?

A. TBD.

Q. Can an instructor cancel the remaining instruction for the term?

A. You should not cancel the remaining instruction for your course for the remainder of the term without written approval. The required levels of approval for the early conclusion of a course include: 1) the Chair/Director of the academic department where your course is aligned, and either 2) the Dean of the college that houses that department (e.g. cancellation of a Psychology course would require approval of the Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences) or the appropriate academic lead on the relevant campus for any member of the faculty serving at one of UAA’s community campuses (KPC, KOC, Mat-Su, PWSC) AND 3) the provost.

Q. Can an instructor practice discretion in cancelling remaining graded coursework?

A. Yes. Instructors may eliminate a portion of the remaining graded coursework if it is not suited to remote delivery. Review the student learning outcomes for the course. If you believe that you have engaged students, received demonstration of their competency in relationship to a given learning outcome, and have provided sufficient feedback and evaluation on a given student learning outcome, you could decide to focus your attention on the learning outcomes that need additional attention.

It is acceptable for a faculty member to make a determination about a reduction in particular assignments. In other words, you might determine that it is best to drop a quiz, go from having two remaining exams to one, or to re-think how you’ll handle a team presentation. If you are unsure about academic technologies that might be leveraged to support or alter your remaining student coursework, contact a member of the staff in Academic Innovations and eLearning.

Please be sure to communicate any changes and expectations to your students.

Q. Can an instructor schedule an in person meeting of their teaching and learning support team, including graduate teaching assistants and peer learning assistants?

A. TBD. 

Q. Should instructors do anything differently for students who have academic accommodations provided by Disability Support Services (DSS)?

A. Instructors should continue to comply with the academic accommodations authorized by DSS earlier in the term. If a student has new or updated accommodations for any reason, DSS will provide a new letter outlining changes to their accommodations. As always, academic accommodations cannot be applied retroactively, and should not alter your learning outcomes.

Some students with DSS accommodations fall into high risk groups and, as a result, could be disproportionately affected by COVID-19. DSS will be working to support students, as always, but faculty should be mindful of how they can best support students in their classes.

Because of an anticipated increase in the volume of academic accommodation requests and inquiries , Disability Support Services will be receiving additional support from the Dean of Students Office. If you have questions, see the Disability Support Services website for contact information.

Q. How may a student request an update to their Disability Support Services (DSS) academic accommodations?

A. A student with a current academic accommodation should contact their DSS support coordinator to discuss their options. Students may not request that instructors extend differential treatment such as grading them differently than other students in the course. As always, academic accommodations cannot be applied retroactively, and should not alter your learning outcomes.

Q. Can an instructor exercise flexibility for a student who is needed as a caretaker?

A. UAA students work and have caretaking responsibilities at a rate that is higher than the national average for other college students. For that reason, their off campus obligations are something that may need to be taken into consideration. Although a student may not need to be in quarantine for themselves, they may need to quarantine with a family member who falls into a high(er) risk category. Faculty are encouraged to be flexible with these kinds of situations. Allowing students to care for their loved ones at the same time they are attempting to complete a course is both humane and supports our larger institutional goal of student success.

Q. What resources are available for students who need technical help for support systems such as Blackboard or Zoom?

A. If students need technical assistance, they should contact the ITS Technical Support Center (907-786-4646 or 877-633-3888) for assistance.

Q. If a student is unable to successfully complete a course, what options are available?

A. Whenever possible, a grade should be assigned for a course. Our first and primary goal is to support as many students as possible in the successful completion of a course within the parameters of the usual term.  Instructors have the regular grading options, including an “Incomplete” grade.

This statement could apply to an increased number of students if the institution or individuals are under quarantine but, generally speaking, it is wise to reserve the Incomplete grade designation for more extreme or unusual circumstances. In most cases, it is best to try to work with students to determine a path forward to course completion within the time frame of the current term.

Q. Can an instructor still use a regularly scheduled classroom to host a remote class?

A. No.

Q. How do I hold office hours?

A. We recommend that you offer your regularly scheduled office hours via Zoom, Google Hangouts, or another interactive technology. See CAFE's website for recommendations about holding office hours.

Q. If an instructor includes online instructional modalities as part of temporary alternate delivery, will they have to teach online in the future?

A. “Temporary alternate delivery" is NOT the same as moving a course to fully online instruction. Future instructional responsibilities will be determined through the regular process. 

 


EXAMS, FINAL EXAMS, END-OF-TERM PAPERS/PROJECTS, AND THESIS OR DISSERTATION DEFENSE

Q. Will RPNow or an alternative proctoring service be made available to courses that have shifted to alternate delivery? (updated 3/24/2020)

A. No. Courses that were originally online and using UAA-provided proctoring tools such as RPNow may continue to do so. However, UAA will not extend that service to courses that have shifted to alternate delivery. Some students do not have the equipment necessary for these services, and need to come to campus to use the testing facility. Because we want to minimize the need for students to come onto campus, we are asking faculty to consider other assessment options. Please reach out to CAFE and AI&E for ideas.

Q. Can students take proctored exams and tests on campus? (updated 3/20/2020)

A. Proctored tests will not be available on campuses, except for individual students who cannot access their options remotely.  Faculty may use Blackboard’s ability to time questions as an alternative to proctoring. CAFE and AI&E are developing a resource guide for faculty that focuses on approaches to testing. 

Q. What should instructors do about in-class exams? 

A. An in-class exam could be converted to a take-home exam. Instructors may also consider other testing formats (e.g., an exam on Blackboard or an oral exam via Zoom) in lieu of a take-home exam if it is appropriate for their course’s learning outcomes.

If an exam is already planned as a take-home, no changes are needed. 

Q. If an instructor needs to convert an in-class exam to a take-home format, what are the options?

A. A take-home exam can be administered via the learning management system (Blackboard) or via email (e.g. PDF, scan/send). Distribution and collection of the exams must be electronic, i.e., no in-person interactions. 

Q. How can an instructor who is accustomed to closed book exams convert to an open book exam?

A. Your colleagues in CAFE, AI&e and CCEL are available to help you adapt your final exams into different formats and to measure student learning when you have had to shift to alternate delivery. Watch for programming and other recommendations that will address this topic soon. If you require individualized assistance, contact CAFE at uaa_cafe@alaska.edu.

Q. When an instructor converts an in-class exam to an online format, can it be administered at a different time?

 A. TBD

Q. Can an online exam be closed book?

A. TBD

Q. If an instructor is confident that they have sufficient information to evaluate their students and issue class grades, can they choose to cancel the final assessment?

A. Yes. In some cases, when the nature of a class or exam is not suited to remote delivery, other options, including submitting grades based on work conducted to this point (if all student learning outcomes are met), may be used. However, instructors are encouraged to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge at the end of the term. The Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence (CAFE) has a number of alternatives to recommend; watch for more coming soon.

Q. May an instructor offer multiple options for a final exam/assessment? 

A. Yes, it is permissible for an instructor to offer several options for final assessments. Should an instructor choose to do so, they should ensure that:

  • The work expected is roughly equivalent.
  • All students are given the opportunity to select among the same format options.
  • The options are posted well enough in advance that students can make informed decisions about their preferred format.

Q. Can an instructor postpone the final exam to allow for additional time to adapt it to a take-home format?

A. No. The final exam schedule for the term remains in effect, as does the grade submission deadline for the term. Please evaluate student work and submit grades according to the previously announced institutional deadlines.

Q. Can an instructor make the final exam optional, so that students have the choice of taking the final or having their grades based upon only already completed course work?  

A. Yes. An instructor may offer all students in a course the option to have their final grade based upon only the course work that they have completed prior to the exam, or to have their final grade based upon completed coursework plus the final exam. 

Should an instructor decide to offer this option, the students should receive clear guidance on how their grade will be calculated within each choice available to them. Students should be required to inform the instructor of their decision in writing well in advance of the start time of the scheduled exam.

Q. May an instructor offer multiple options for a final exam/assessment? 

A. Yes, it is permissible for an instructor to offer several options for final assessments. Should an instructor choose to do so, they should ensure that:

  • The work expected is roughly equivalent.
  • All students are given the opportunity to select among the same format options.
  • The options are posted well enough in advance that students can make informed decisions about their preferred format.

Q. If an instructor is offering a take-home exam and a student has an academic accommodation from Disability Support Services for additional test taking time, does that extended time also apply to a take-home exam situation?

A. The specific accommodation for a take-home exam is based on the nature of each student's disability. Some DSS academic accommodation letters indicate that additional time is not needed for take-home exams. Other DSS letters indicate students should receive extended time on their take-home exams. The student’s DSS services coordinator can assist with the interpretation and provide guidance on the implementation of a specific accommodation. Contact DSS at 786-4531.

Q. Are students expected to be available during their scheduled final time?

A. Given the current situation, asynchronous delivery is recommended. This will allow for more flexibility.  If an instructor concludes that students must meet synchronously for a final exam, the students would be required to attend at that time. However, the instructor will need to be flexible with students. Be sure to interface with students who have academic accommodations through Disability Support Services who may receive extended test-taking time. 

Q. Does the Student Code of Conduct address take-home exams? Does the Student Code of Conduct address other elements of academic integrity during this time of temporary alternate delivery of a course?

A. The Student Code of Conduct addresses all types of academic integrity, including take-home and distance-delivered exams and assignments. As always, faculty are encouraged to communicate expectations regarding academic integrity as part of the instructions for all assignments and exams. For instance, you might highlight key dimensions of the guidance on academic integrity or specify restrictions on:

  • Copying from another’s paper or exam
  • Representing another’s work as one’s own work
  • Unauthorized collaboration
  • Providing or receiving assistance on an exam or assignment
  • A particular resource, devise, or set of materials that is permissible to consult for a take-home exam (and any that are prohibited)
  • Any consideration you may offer involving revision or resubmission of academic work

Q. Can a student or members of a thesis or dissertation committee participate remotely?

A. Yes. More information coming.

 


GRADES

Working in support of instructional continuity ensures two things: 1) that as many students as possible complete the course successfully within the normal timeframe of the term, and 2) that faculty submit grades in accordance with approved due dates and guidelines.

Q. Can instructors decide to give all students enrolled in the class a grade of Incomplete? (updated 3/24/2020)

A. An Incomplete grade is an appropriate grade when requested by an individual student. If a course cannot be converted to alternate delivery, or if a student does not have the ability to complete the course due to the change to alternate delivery, they may request an incomplete grade. Faculty are encouraged to extend this option and work with students to complete an Incomplete Grade Contract Form, outlining the remaining requirements to receive a grade, as well as the deadline for the remaining work to be completed.

Whenever possible, a grade should be assigned for a course.

Q. Can students request a late withdrawal from a single course or for the term? (updated 3/24/2020)

A. The Provost has extended the withdrawal deadline to April 10th.

In the event that a particular student has more specific or individualized concern, the institution has previously established policies and procedures for the review of requests for exception to established guidelines, including the withdraw deadline. Students pursue requests of this nature through the Office of the Registrar.

Q. What grade can an instructor enter if they need more time to finish grading? (updated 3/24/2020)

A. Late grade submissions can delay graduation and financial aid disbursement and affect academic standing. If an instructor experiences an extreme or unusual circumstance that makes it impossible to complete grading and meet the submission deadline, a good first course of action might be to contact a colleague or the University Registrar, to see if they can support you in meeting the regularly established submission deadline. If that is not possible, you will need to contact your dean and the Office of the Registrar. Faculty serving on community campuses should contact the academic lead and director of the community campus, the relevant dean for the academic college where the course resides (at the Anchorage campus), and the Office of the Registrar in Anchorage. Failure to submit grades in a timely manner results in a report that is sent to college and campus leadership.

 


Q. Do you have a question that wasn’t included in the above? 

A. For immediate assistance, email uaa_oaa@alaska.edu. A link for questions will be provided moving forward. 

Q. What technologies are available to support instructors who are changing to alternate delivery of their classes? 

A. UAA is using Blackboard as the primary platform for interfacing with students when it is necessary to move to alternate delivery.

Academic Innovations & eLearning is available to help faculty make this shift. At minimum, faculty should:

  • Make all courses available to students. On Blackboard Help, go to Make a Course Available to Students for guidance.
  • Post an announcement about how you'll communicate with students. On Blackboard Help, go to Announcements for guidance on posting an announcement.
  • Create a discussion board in Blackboard titled "Ask!" as a place for students to pose questions. Using a discussion board is the best way to keep students' questions in one place rather than overwhelming your individual email account.
  • Post your syllabus.

These are the basic steps to establish your presence. You can email Academic Innovations and eLearning to get further assistance with Blackboard.

Q. May I use tools other than Blackboard?

A. There are lots of other tools for you to use. You should use what you are comfortable with. Here are some basic things you will need to be able to do, along with ideas about which tools you might use. There is also a list of Core Tools on the UAA IT website.

Need Possible Tool(s)
Communicate with students
  • Blackboard
Make the syllabus available
  • Blackboard
Deliver content
  • Blackboard
  • Google Docs or Sites
Engage with your students
Collect assignments from students
Provide feedback on assignments to the students
  • Blackboard Grade Center
Create and administer quizzes and exams
  • Blackboard tests and quizzes
  • RPNow test proctoring

 Q. Where do I go for help?

A. There are numerous resources available to you:

Topic Contacts
Instructional Practices and Pedagogies
Workshops, Trainings, Tutorials
Assistance with Instructional Technology
Technical Assistance
Tools