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A Message from the Provost - March 11, 2020

March 11, 2020

Dear Academic Affairs Community,

Given the rapidly emerging situation our campus is experiencing, I want to thank all our faculty and staff who have quickly helped develop alternative delivery of instruction. We know that this work is not easy and appreciate everyone’s best effort to meet the needs of our students while also keeping our community safe. The purpose of this message is to provide resources and information during this transition.

To reiterate, we are cancelling in-person classes on campus from March 12 - 17. The break will allow all in Academic Affairs time to prepare for alternative instruction, which will begin Wednesday, March 18. Faculty must fully consult with their chairs and deans before continuing with any in-person labs, testing and dance techniques, etc. Faculty must obtain permission from their college chairs/deans to continue teaching in an in-person format (e.g., in smaller lab courses, field schools, dance techniques, etc.).

Here are some helpful campus-wide resources:

The Academic Continuity Resource website provides suggestions for faculty developing alternative curriculum and is both technical and non-technical. This site will be updated regularly. For staff, an email went out earlier today. If Academic Affairs staff have any questions, do not hesitate to be in touch using the campus staff email.

CSULB Single Sign On (SSO) portal provides key online resources such as ZOOM, BeachBoard, Outlook, Work, PowerPoint, and Excel without having to install them on your computer. 

All faculty, students and staff have access to ZOOM via SSO.  ZOOM is a video conferencing tool for remote meetings, online courses, and webinars.

Every semester all courses are automatically loaded into BeachBoard including class rosters.  Instructors can login to BeachBoard from SSO, activate their course and quickly begin communicating with the students in that particular course.

Academic Technology Services (ATS) will maintain regular business hours and support operations to provide training to assist these faculty and teaching associates, as applicable, with moving their in-person classes to fully online modalities.

  • Email: beachboard@csulb.edu
  • Phone: (562) 985-TECH (8324)
  • Walk-In:  AS 120, Monday-Thursday, 8am-6pm & Friday, 8am-5pm
  • After Hours:  Calls are automatically forwarded to the D2L technical support desk.

ATS is also offering two webinars on March 13: How to Get Up & Running with BeachBoard & Zoom. Questions will be addressed during the webinar using the Zoom chat feature. Please register in advance for one of the times below to attend or to receive the recording. We will also provide the webinar on the Academic Continuity Resource website.

Dr. Norbert Schürer wanted to share some useful tips, passed along from Prof. Amy Young at Pacific Lutheran University. I commend him for the positivity permeating his message:

  1. Be kind to yourself and your students. Everyone is stressed, even if they’re playing cool. That includes faculty. And that’s OK.
  2. Let’s acknowledge that the quality of education will not be as good in alternative formats as it is in the pedagogical model we’ve actually planned for. That’s OK as well—we’re just trying to survive.
  3. Do not read on best practices for distance learning. That’s not the situation we’re in. We’re in triage. Distance learning, when planned, can be really excellent. That’s not what this is. Do what you absolutely have to and ditch what you can. Thinking you can manage best practices in a day or a week will lead to feeling like you’ve failed.
  4. You will not recreate your classroom, and you cannot hold yourself to that standard. Moving a class to a distance learning model in a day’s time excludes the possibility of excellence. Give yourself a break.
  5. Prioritize: what do students really need to know for the next few weeks? This is really difficult, and, once again, it means that the quality of teaching and learning will suffer. But these are not normal circumstances.
  6. Stay in contact with students, and stay transparent. Talk to them about why you’re prioritizing certain things or asking them to read or do certain things. Most of us do that in our face-to-face teaching anyway, and it improves student buy-in because they know content and delivery are purposeful.
  7. Many universities have a considerable number of pedagogical experts on academic technology that we have only been dimly aware of until yesterday. Be kind to these colleagues. They are suddenly very slammed.
  8. If you’re making videos, student viewership drops off precipitously at five minutes. Make them capsule videos if you make them. And consider uploading to to Youtube because it transcribes for you. Do not assume your audio is good enough or that students can understand without transcription. This is like using a microphone at meetings—it doesn’t matter if you don’t need it; someone else does and they don’t want to ask. At the same time, of course, think about intellectual property and what you’re willing to release to a wide audience.
  9. Make assignments lower or no stakes if you’re using a new platform. Get students used to just using the platform. Then you can do something higher stakes. Do not ask students to do a high stakes exam or assignment on a new platform.
  10. Be particularly kind to your graduating seniors. They're already panicking, and this isn't going to help. If you teach a class where they need to have completed something for certification, to apply to grad school, or whatever, figure out plan B. But talk to them. Radio silence, even if you're working, is not okay.

In the coming weeks, we will decide about whether to resume in-person classes, based on current medical advice. We will notify the campus community when the decision has been made.

I understand this is a time of great uncertainty, and I greatly appreciate the contributions and patience of The Beach community as we continue to work through the changing landscape caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, please visit CSULB’s COVID-19 website.

Collegially,

Brian Jersky
Provost and Senior Vice President