Update on remote teaching for Notre Dame instructors

Author: Andy Fuller

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Your generosity, creativity, and commitment to our students has never been more visible than it is now in this moment of profound disruption and anxiety. Thank you. In all things, we counsel compassion, flexibility, and patience as guiding principles — towards our students, our broader community, and ourselves. Many students (and their instructors) may be in unstable circumstances; they may be burdened by this crisis in ways that are not readily visible or communicated easily. The impact of COVID-19 on our communities, the responses of local authorities to it, and access to public spaces and resources will vary. These factors will continue to impact everyone in our dispersed community. Resumption of instruction in an online environment will, no doubt, present some new opportunities and a few surprises. As we look forward to the week ahead, we write with some additional touchstones to consider as we begin remote learning and teaching as a community.

  1. Teaching From Home. As Provost Burish recently wrote, the University recommends that all instructors: “... should teach from home if they are able to do so. You will continue to have access to the campus network, your offices on campus, and, for those with specialized needs, a limited number of technology-enhanced classrooms. No one should feel any pressure to come to campus if doing so poses a health or safety risk or if they can teach just as effectively from home.” Travel to and from campus for the purpose of remote teaching is permitted as an essential service. If you come to campus, please be sure to bring your Notre Dame ID card (Ir1shCard) to get access to campus buildings and to certify your essential-on-campus status if requested. You will need to enter your four-digit PIN code; the default setting is your birthday month and date (MMDD). You can change or reset your PIN here.
  2. Asynchronous Learning. If possible, we encourage you to include some “asynchronous” learning in your teaching plans, as a best practice to support students who may have difficulty connecting or with challenging personal circumstances. Such asynchronous learning can be pre-recorded mini-lectures (screencasts), worked examples, podcasts, small-group exercises, discussion threads, and other active-learning work posted in Sakai that students can do outside of your regular class times. More guidance on making and using asynchronous learning is here. If you are creating screencasts or video mini-lectures, please consult this OIT document for advice on uploading your materials.
  3. Technology Support. Please continue to direct all of your technology-related support needs (including those involving Sakai) to the OIT Help Desk. OIT has created a new “Teaching Triage” process to provide expert help as quickly as possible. 
  4. Exams and Assessments. We know that exam redesign and administration is a major concern for many instructors. We have published strategies for designing and delivering exams and assessments here, and are offering online workshops on the topic in the upcoming week.
  5. The Instructional Continuity website has been redesigned for ease of use and now contains additional resources, samples, and guidance to assist you in the weeks ahead. 
  6. Learning Continuity for Students was recently published on the University’s main coronavirus response page. This student-facing website collects support and guidance resources for our students in a single location. Please feel free to share that page with your students, and use any of the resources you like in communicating with your students.
  7. Communicating with Students. We encourage you to be in touch with your students frequently as our transition to remote learning and teaching begins. A regular flow of information will help you and your students find a new rhythm. Please do not move your live class meetings outside the currently scheduled meeting time. If you have not already done so, please share with them your adjusted goals and expectations for the remainder of the semester, how you expect them to participate in your class,  how you will hold office hours, how they may work together, use class resources, and communicate with you. As above, we counsel compassion, flexibility, and patience. 
  8. Intellectual Property Considerations. As provided in the University Policy on Intellectual Property section 2.3, unless you have entered into a specific agreement with the University,  any learning materials (videos, exams, problem sets, case studies) you create and upload to Sakai, or share with your students using University platforms, remain your intellectual property. If you have concerns about your materials circulating, you may wish to include a copyright notation or attribution license, although this is not required. Please communicate with your students on how they may use or share these resources. Using University platforms (Sakai, Panopto) provides the most security, but please recognize that digital materials are inherently easy to circulate. Your College or School may have additional guidance specific to your discipline.
  9. Student and Faculty Privacy. As in a face-to-face class, communication, presentation and discussion is a privileged activity that should be veiled from public view in order to maintain the integrity of the learning experience and the academic freedom of instructors. Please take special care to protect the privacy of your students and of your class-related communications (a category that includes recordings of live meetings, discussion threads, student communications, and individual learning data). We have recommended recording live synchronous meetings as a best practice to support students. If you record live class meetings, please protect such recordings from circulating by hosting them only within University provided platforms (e.g. Sakai, the Panopto video hosting system or Zoom in the cloud). For more information on video hosting, click here
  10. Academic Integrity.

On behalf of the Faculty Task Force on Instructional Continuity, thank you for everything you are doing to support our students and sustain our now-dispersed community with the gift of learning in the days ahead. We welcome your feedback and invite you to share your ideas with colleagues. Should you have ongoing questions about navigating the online teaching environment or concerns that require additional consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are in this together and stand ready to assist you.

Yours in Notre Dame,

Elliott Visconsi

Associate Provost & Chief Academic Digital Officer

Hugh Page, Jr.

Vice President & Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies