An update on some issues related to teaching
April 7, 2020
Dear Faculty Colleagues,
As I wrote yesterday (see below), CUNY has made a decision to keep summer sessions in the distance learning environment. We will share information about access to on-campus locations, such as offices and the library, as soon as we hear it.
In the meantime, this announcement about remote teaching through the summer gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve learned so far in this challenging period of recalibration, and to make knowledgeable, purposeful choices for our summer teaching.
In particular, I want to address two issues coming to the forefront in the complexities of teaching in a distant learning environment.
First, there has been much concern about how to deliver a traditional high-stakes final exam in the current environment. In an effort to provide more guidance, I am working with a group of faculty who have been teaching online for several semesters and who have evolved creative approaches. I’m working with them to compile approaches to final exams and other types of assessments. The goal is to share best practices and a range of options for faculty and their departments to consider. I hope to share this with you by April 20. Meanwhile, please feel free to send me your thoughts.
Second, given today’s uncertainty, I urge faculty to continue to incorporate and expand asynchronous learning in their courses. I know that this is a lot to ask: I recognize that faculty have already put in a tremendous amount of work and thought into acclimating to our new teaching reality. I make this request because a growing number of our students may not be able to join in synchronous class meetings.
Starting the week of April 13, the Center for Teaching and Learning will offer workshops and consultations to help interested faculty focus on developing asynchronous teaching techniques. In addition, the CTL is working on an “Asynchronous Teaching Guide.” Those interested in getting started right away, can look at the CTL’s TeachHybrid site.
Starting on April 17, the Schwartz Communication Institute, in collaboration with Adjunct Faculty Services, will lead a series of workshops using their Very Short Guides as a resource. While not developed with online formats in mind, many VSGs cover topics that are more important now than ever, and many are easily adapted to the online context. Information on this series, as well as other opportunities for support in remote communication-intensive teaching and learning, will be provided soon.
Finally, and most importantly I’d like to reflect on all we’ve accomplished so far and extend my most heartfelt gratitude. Much has happened since Provost McCarthy informed us nearly a month ago that “CUNY [had] extended to college presidents the authority to allow, on a temporary basis, the conversion of courses from face-to-face or hybrid formats to distance teaching formats.” Since then, you have all made an enormously heavy lift in extraordinarily challenging times. Appreciation for your resilience, flexibility, and compassion during this era of uncertainty and constant change cannot be overstated. I consider myself fortunate to be working with such dedicated and resourceful faculty and staff colleagues during this historic period for our all of us.
Dennis Slavin, PhD
Associate Provost and Assistant Vice President
Baruch College, CUNY
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April 6, 2020
Summer Session via Distance Learning
Last week CUNY made a University-wide decision to keep summer sessions in the distance learning environment. I know this raises many questions for both faculty and staff, and we will keep you updated as the situation develops.
As a start, this announcement gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve learned so far in this challenging period of urgent recalibration, and to fine tune our summer teaching. I know we will continue to support the expansion of asynchronous learning, as described on the Center for Teaching and Learning’s TeachHybrid site. We are also currently working on a faculty best practices guide for the delivery of final exams, with the goal of sharing this before April 20. I will send faculty a follow-up email detailing these and other efforts, and as ever, ask that you reach out to me with any thoughts or concerns.
The move to distance education for summer also raises questions about campus access—to libraries, offices, and labs—and whether staff will also continue to work remotely through the summer session. Decisions such as these must be made with full consideration of the latest guidance from New York State and City, in addition to recommendations and policies from the University. We will continue to share information on these important matters.
Appreciation for your resilience, flexibility, and compassion during this era of uncertainty and constant change cannot be overstated. I consider myself fortunate to be working with such dedicated faculty and staff colleagues during this historic period for our college and world beyond.
Dennis Slavin, PhD