Week One of Remote Instruction: Roundup
Dr. Gene Bourgeois, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs | April 3, 2020
Email sent to faculty, staff and teaching assistants
Let me begin by acknowledging the tremendous efforts by our faculty, staff, and students in making the first week of remote instruction a success. As we end this historic week, I wanted to answer several questions, highlight resources, and provide reassurance that the university is here to support you every step of the way.
Texas State University affirms its commitment to academic freedom and will take steps to ensure intellectual independence, free investigation, and unfettered communication by the academic community. President Trauth and I reaffirmed this commitment at our monthly PAAG meeting with Faculty Senate a few days ago. Through our core values, Texas State protects and celebrates academic freedom in an atmosphere of integrity, respect, civility, and compassion. Faculty Senate’s Academic Freedom Committee provides more information on this fundamental tenet in higher education: https://www.txstate.edu/facultysenate/committees/freedom.html.
With the sudden transition to remote instruction, many faculty are concerned about ensuring academic integrity in the new environment. Fortunately, the university has several options for gaining more information, including the video, “Prompt Preparation for 100% Online Instruction and the University Honor Code,” a 15-minute guide to proactively influence academic integrity in an online course. In conjunction with the Honor Code Council, Faculty Development will offer a workshop and Q&A period, “Their Cheating Hearts: Tips for Maintaining Academic Integrity While Teaching Remotely,” on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. via Zoom. Go here to learn more and sign up for this interactive session: https://signup.txstate.edu/sessions/6035-4-8-2020-their-cheating-hearts-tips-for-maintaining-academic-integrity-while-teaching-remotely.
Faculty members have asked about posting the recordings of online class sessions where student participation occurred. These recordings reflect the teaching and learning process, so instructors often post them for students to watch or re-watch. If access to the recordings is securely limited to other students in the same class section, student privacy protections do not limit or prevent access and do not require obtaining a written consent. Faculty may post these recordings in TRACS or Canvas class sites that are protected by student identification and authentication features. The recordings may not be distributed by anyone, including students, to third-parties without obtaining written consent from the instructor, students, and other participants.
Community of Practice
Every Friday at 12:00 noon, Faculty Development is hosting “Let’s Do Lunch,” an opportunity for faculty members to visit, exchange ideas, and find ways to take care of each other, ourselves, and our students as we navigate this new world of remote teaching and learning. Topics are based on faculty suggestions. The topic for Friday, April 3, 2020 is “We Made It!” This come-and-go Zoom session is time to share what is working in your classes and to hear ideas on best practices for surviving and thriving in this new learning environment. This lunchtime gathering will be informal, informative, and fun. Join here on Fridays through May 8, 2020 at 12:00 noon: https://txstate.zoom.us/meeting/register/vJclcumrrz4iVcPlJrf-D7D2np1OYGrZqw
Faculty own the coursework they create, and the university has a license to use it for education and marketing purposes. If you wish to restrict use of class materials and lectures, including recordings, written instructions should be provided to students. See more information on copyright provisions and a suggested written statement to students (section 03.01) in AA/PPS 02.03.01, Commercial Use of Class Notes and Materials. Additional information on copyright and remote teaching is available from the university’s Copyright Office and the library’s remote course support webpage.
Finding Time to Read, Write, and Think
If faculty are trying to carve out space for thinking, reading, writing, and other deep work, join Faculty Development’s new program, “Write Watchers.” The group will meet via Zoom every Tuesday, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon, beginning on April 7, 2020. In a Write Watcher session, each participant sets goals at the beginning and then reflects on what was accomplished at the end. In between, microphones are muted and faculty do deep work, with other supportive faculty working alongside them. To join, follow this Zoom link on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m.:https://txstate.zoom.us/my/writewatchers.
A few faculty members have reported instances of Zoom-bombing, where an uninvited person accesses and disrupts a Zoom class session, often using inappropriate language and graphics. Visit ITAC’s helpful resource on how to lockdown Zoom sessions to avoid unwanted visitors: https://itac.txstate.edu/support/online-meetings/lockdown.html. Remember the first rule of Zoom: Don’t give up control of your screen.
Next week, I will provide updates on other questions, including those related to EP grades, professional development requirements for faculty teaching online this summer, the employee assistance program, student evaluations of teaching, and the tenure clock for tenure-track faculty. Until then, I hope you and your loved ones are well.