This page is to help us as we prepare to continue coursework in the event that meeting with students face-to-face is not possible following spring break. We hope the strategies, pedagogies, tools and other resources provided will assist you.
Wofford faculty members should spend the extended Spring Break (March 16-27) preparing for the possibility of an interruption to face-to-face instruction following our original Spring Break, which concludes on April 5. This includes proactively communicating detailed instructional plans, expectations and alternative instruction strategies in adjusted course syllabi to their students no later than April 6.
Before you begin transitioning your course plans and materials for remote instruction, please consider the following general principles.
- Communicate with your students early and frequently. Cultivating a sense that you are present with the students in a meaningful, if not literal, sense is crucial to successful online teaching. Communication resources include:
- Campus email.
- Group texting apps such as GroupMe.
- Moodle using Announcements, Messaging Boards, and Discussion Forums.
If possible, try to identify any potential difficulties your students may face in moving to remote instruction prior to the resumption of classes on April 6. Our Office of Student Success and other Academic Support Services continues to work with students who are facing technology challenges. Please reach out to Dean Boyce Lawton (lawtonBM@wofford.edu) if you have questions about individual students of concern or suggestions about how we might better serve students facing particular challenges.
Even though we might not be sure yet what will happen after April 6, the sense of not-knowing is perhaps one of the most challenging struggles we have confronted so far as a community. Staying in touch with your students as you develop your plans — even if it’s just to let them know what you’re working on — will perhaps feel like a kindness as much as anything. Just as many of us check the national news daily (or even hourly), we anticipate students will probably be waiting to hear any information they can about the plans for their courses.
- Begin preparing your students to conduct class remotely by introducing remote learning tools and practices during the early Spring Break weeks, March 16-27, on a voluntary basis. Coursework originally due this week and next week should be rescheduled to a later due date.
- Focus on student learning as you work to adjust class activities and try to keep students moving toward those goals. This can be accomplished in many cases by breaking work into smaller graded chunks that require accountability for each.
- Prioritizing course material and activities: Focus on those elements that have the most significant impact on student learning. Some course material or activities may need to be forfeited. These decisions are difficult under any circumstances, but especially now. Be open to change. Consult with colleagues in your discipline, the Center for Innovation and Learning, or Dean John Miles (email@example.com) to help with prioritization if you are struggling. Zoom calls with fellow faculty members will be a great way to collaborate on decision making, familiarize yourself with the technology, and share ideas at the same time.
- Maintain normal course scheduling as much as you can. Try to hold synchronous activities to promote community, but please do not penalize students who cannot participate due to time zone differences, poor internet access, or similar factors. If you do choose to schedule synchronous class activities, it is essential to schedule them during the normal class time unless the class members reach unanimous consensus about moving to another time. We must not put students in the untenable position of having to choose between simultaneous activities for different classes, other work, etc.
- Consider converting synchronous activities into asynchronous activities or recording any synchronous activities to archive. If a new asynchronous activity meets the course goals and learning outcomes, the asynchronous activity might be preferable. The key is to strike a balance between the communication and camaraderie between yourself and students that synchrony provides and the flexibility that asynchrony provides.
- To the extent possible, consider reordering course activities through the end of the semester to delay those activities where face-to-face interaction is most crucial. Our intent remains to bring students to campus whenever it has been deemed by health officials that it is safe to do so.
- Replace physical resources with digital resources where possible. Remember that students who are not on campus will not have access to a physical library. Our colleagues in The Sandor Teszler Library are working diligently to meet our students’ needs remotely. Please be patient as their normally speedy service may be delayed due to increased request volume. Please consider substituting open-source digital materials that are freely available online for materials that may be more difficult to access.
- Consult your department chair about any department-specific considerations.
- Use tools that are familiar to you and the students to the greatest extent possible.
It is advisable to begin the online experience with some kind of very low stakes community-building exercises, whether synchronous or asynchronous. Please be clear with students about expectations for graded assignments and any changes to the course syllabus. Wofford is a tightly knit community. That strength will be an asset, even remotely, when accessing course materials if we are isolated from each other.
More resources, as well as workshops are being developed to help you prepare your courses for classes to resume on April 6. We will share additional resources with faculty in the near future.