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Teaching Remotely

We’ve curated a variety of useful information and resources, courtesy of UNG’s Division of Distance Education and Technology Integration (DETI) and the Center of Teaching, Learning and Leadership (CTLL) to help make your transition to teaching remotely as seamless as possible. We have also listed communications from Academic Affairs

Resources and Tips for Teaching Remotely

It is important to remember that due to the disruption of COVID-19, you are shifting your face-to-face course to an online course so that you may teach remotely. You are not teaching an online course, which requires review and certification.

How You Can Help Your Students

Keep in mind that teaching during times of significant disruption is something many of us are not completely prepared for and the learning environment will not be ideal. Instead of aiming for perfection:

  • Keep it simple
  • Focus on meeting your essential learning outcomes
  • Consider realistic goals
  • Rely on tools that are familiar to you and your students.
  • Be flexible with assignments and deadlines
  • Remember that nobody signed up for this
  • Minimize use of video or other activities that require a lot of bandwidth; keep technology mobile-friendly.
  • Keep instruction asynchronous.
  • Minimize or eliminate proctored activities. If necessary, try to use Respondus Lockdown Browser & Monitor (login required), rather than Proctor U.
    • Please note - The Respondus Monitor and Lockdown Browser do not work on mobile technologies and Chromebooks. We are concerned about the ability of Proctor U to meet the demand across the nation, and they charge students a fee. With Respondus, there is no charge. Also, note the requirement for a proctored activity in UNG Online and eCore courses has been waived for this semester, and there is no requirement for proctoring for courses that were transitioned to remote delivery.
  • Temper your expectations.
    • Be flexible with due dates and group project requirements, recognizing that they may have access issues and are likely dealing with additional family stresses and responsibilities at home, just as many of you are.
  • You are now the key touchpoint for your students. Encourage them to have a growth mindset, to give themselves a little time to adjust to the new environment, and to practice self-care.
    • Consider reaching out for a general wellness check. We are all in this together.
Keeping Your Students Engaged

Your students need just as much (if not more) support in a remote learning environment as they do face-to-face. The key is consistency and variety in their mode of communication.

  • Start each discussion with clear expectations and detailed assignment explanations. This is the most important aspect of remote instruction.
  • It is important to let the students do most of the thinking and “talking” during the discussions, but it is critical for a professor to chime in, ask probing questions, and redirect sidetracks during each discussion.
  • Communicate with students in a variety of other ways:
    • Open question/answer forum in D2L
    • Check-in or “How-are-you-doing” surveys (anonymous or not)
    • An alternative to calling students is setting up an open room in D2L’s Blackboard Collaborate for you and the students to interact instead of phone calls 

For more help with D2L, please visit the DETI Resources for Teaching Remotely page (login required).

This information was compiled by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership (CTLL). If you have questions and concerns, contact CTLL by email at ctll@ung.edu.

Student Self-support and Collaboration

Students frequently rely on each other for support, collaboration, and question-answering, so professors should encourage that in an online environment as well using one or more of the following options:

  • Use Microsoft 365 for live document collaboration.
  • Set up student chat rooms in D2L's Blackboard Collaborate to interact real-time in small groups. 

For more help with D2L's Blackboard Collaborate, please visit the DETI Resources for Teaching Remotely page (login required).

This information was compiled by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership (CTLL). If you have questions and concerns, contact CTLL by email at ctll@ung.edu.

Online Etiquette or "Netiquette" for Students

Remind students about using online etiquette or “netiquette”. 

All UNG students are expected to demonstrate professionalism in all course activities. This includes the following:

  • Professional appearance os required for all school-based assignments
  • Respect for university policies, procedures and personnel
  • Timely submission of materials and completion of all assignments
  • Display respect for others (instructors and peers) when teaching/speaking
  • Arrive to class on time and staying for the full time
  • Maintain a positive and cooperative attitude
  • Demonstrate a willingness to learn
  • Demonstrate honesty

Additionally, students are expected to maintain appropriate online etiquette throughout in your emails, assignments, small group discussions, and online discussion postings. This includes not typing in all caps, using proper grammar/mechanics, and maintaining politically correct verbiage. In online small group discussions, students are expected to attend each session, come prepared having done all the readings/assignments, and participate throughout the entire session.

If students should discover that a group member is not fulfilling his or her roles described above, the student should contact the course instructor. Such information will affect the student's attendance/professionalism grade in addition to the individual session grades. 

Here are some additional guidelines for your students - Ten Netiquette Guidelines Online Students Need to Know

This information was compiled by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership (CTLL). If you have questions and concerns, contact CTLL by email at ctll@ung.edu.

Inclusivity, Diversity, and Accessibility in Remote Instruction

The UNG Office of Diversity & Inclusion fosters a climate where equity and equality are valued and supported. As you move your courses online, it is important to foster inclusion and diversity through your communication, assessment, and delivery of content.

Digital Equity

Be aware that not all students will have ready access to reliable Wi-Fi and digital resources. It is important to remember that students did not sign up for an online course and they have limited access to university resources.

  • Go low-tech and mobile-friendly
  • Avoid videos, which require lots of bandwidth and continuous connectivity.
  • Consider assignments that can be done offline
  • Teach asynchronously as much as possible
  • Talk to your students about digital resources and challenges

Student Disabilities and Accessibility

It is important to consider the accessibility of the material for all students. Accessible content is more than supporting students with disabilities. All learners can benefit from making your course material (media, documents, or broadcasts) accessible.

Virtual Office Hours
Professors can hold “Virtual Office Hours” through D2L’s Blackboard Collaborate. Similar to an in-person option, students may or may not attend the virtual office hours. Therefore, after you enter your “room” for office hours do the following so you can keep working on other things on your laptop:
  • Set your microphone to “mute” and leave a note in the chat
    • E.g., "Hi, thanks for stopping by! I'm here and on mute. If i step away for a moment, just hang out for a few and I'll be right back"

For more help with D2L's Blackboard Collaborate, please visit the DETI Resources for Teaching Remotely page (login required).

This information was compiled by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership (CTLL). If you have questions and concerns, contact CTLL by email at ctll@ung.edu.

Assessment Techniques for Remote Instruction

Assessing students from afar can lead to a lot of concerns: How do I maintain the same quality as in-person assessments? How do I prevent plagiarism? What do I do about the projects? Do I have to use one of those complicated online rubrics?

Fortunately, those concerns are pretty easy to address in a relatively low-tech fashion if you think through the issues and set up the assignments for remote instruction.

DETI's Resources for Teaching Remotely (login required) will help you set up your discussion posts. However, before you do so, there are a number of important things you need to think about.

  • Make sure the discussion question(s) is/are open-ended
  • How in-depth are you expecting their online posts to be? Be very specific (number of words, content, citations, etc.)
  • Make sure your expectations are clear (when do they post, when do they reply, how many replies)
    • E.g., - "Each week a new session assignment will be post by Thursday morning. Beaching session will include individual readings/assignments, small group discussions, and whole group summary discussions. After completing all the individual assignments for a session, you will meet with your small group in your designated Blackboard Collaborate to discuss the questions that instructor listed for the session. You can earn up to 10 points per session with 5 points for participating in the small sessions and 5 points going to your responses to the whole group discussion summary postings. You are expected to attend every session that your small group meets. If you do not attend that session, you will not receive the 5 points designated for the small group participation for that week."
  • Avoid the “Agreement Bandwagon” in student replies.
  • Give points for statements that push the conversation along such as:
    • building a focused discussion around the content and/or pedagogy
    • asking a new related question
    • providing links or attachments to helpful/related resources
    • making an oppositional but polite statement supported by personal experience and relate research

Low Tech Grading Rubrics

Low tech discussion grading rubrics help boost transparency, improve grading consistency, speed up the grading process, and improve online discussion quality. However, you do not have to use the D2L rubric function to accomplish this.

An example of a low tech rubric created by April Nelms and C.Lindsay Linsky

  • Save different grade versions of the pre-filled-out rubrics to your computer. To grade a discussion, open up all of the versions, read the posts, copy (Command or Control c) and paste (Command or Control v) the correct pre-filled-out rubric into the feedback box, and personalize the comments.

This information was compiled by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership (CTLL). If you have questions and concerns, contact CTLL by email at ctll@ung.edu.

Online Projects & Presentation Tips

Online projects can be very effective learning experiences. The challenge is that students cannot “come up to you after class” to clarify their understanding. To cut down on the number of emails you receive for clarification, create a project handout or explanation explaining:

  • Purpose of the assignment (what you hope they will learn)
  • How this fits into their overall program
  • Precise expectations of what you want to receive
  • Timeline of things students will need to do
  • How the students will be graded
  • Examples of previous students’ work (if possible)

Grading Online Projects and Presentations

  • Create a rubric with clear criteria that gets to the heart of what you want them to learn (this is key).
  • After that, the same “low-tech” grading examples above will work for projects as well.
  • A portion of an online project rubric example (PDF)

Online Student Presentations

We want our students to learn from each other in student presentations. However, in an online setting, that can quickly become “death-by-power-point” with little depth, so you will need to think ahead.

  • First, create a clear and specific rubric.
  • After that, give students choices to show what they know so that they can select the media that they feel most comfortable with such as:
    • YouTube Video
    • Power point with audio recordings of students’ speaking
    • Regular power point with written examples
    • Cell phone video
    • Live Call presentation with the professor (if available).
  • Remind students to use “netiquette” and to address confidentiality concerns.
  • Make sure students know that their score will be counted off if the product is not viewable, so they should test the link on multiple devices.

This information was compiled by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership (CTLL). If you have questions and concerns, contact CTLL by email at ctll@ung.edu.

How Should I Handle Tests and Final Exams?
Tests
  • Cheating is a concern in a distance environment.
  • Refer to DETI for proctoring options.
  • You can also craft timed open-book assessments that do not have easy answers where students must apply their knowledge.
Final Exams
  • As always, exams should only be given during the final exam week. Exam times are included in our calculation for SACSCOC instructional hours.
  • Minimize proctored activities to include final exams and consider using Respondus Lockdown Browser & Monitor as an alternative to ProctorU if you must.
  • Consider using timed, but asynchronous testing with an extended open window for testing. This provides the greatest flexibility for our students who may be juggling a number of new demands on their time.
  • If synchronous testing is deemed necessary, you must schedule it during your regularly scheduled exam time.  Any departure from this schedule may cause conflicts with other exams.
Does the Library Have Any Suggestions for Resources I Can Use in my Remote Teaching?

Library Databases with Video Content to Supplement your Courses

  • Academic Video Online - has a ton of content including full episodes of PBS's NOVA & Sony's Picture ClassicsYou can browse by channel to see if anything looks relevant to your coursework.
    • To access the free content in Academic Video Online, follow the link and choose "University of North Georgia" as your institution.
    • You will be redirected to the DUO SSO page to login to your university account.
    • Once verified you will be redirected to the Academic Video Online catalog with full access to the content.
  • Films on Demand - they've added a ton of good new content.
  • More video/music databases you can look through too.
Conducting Research and Writing in the Remote Environment
  • Utilize university and system resources
  • Set regular times to conduct research and writing
  • Shorter, more frequent writing sessions over time are more effective than one protracted session
  • Write a little every day
  • Use an accountability partner
  • Leverage mentoring networks
  • Use this time to ask yourself the big questions. Try answering these questions in writing.
    • Why is this research question important and for whom?
    • Why does this research question matter now?
    • Why am I equipped or positioned to address this question?
    • What do I want my readers to do with my results?

This information was compiled by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership (CTLL). If you have questions and concerns, contact CTLL by email at ctll@ung.edu.

Communications from Academic Affairs

Communications to Faculty

May 22, 2020: Message from the Provost

Dear Faculty,

As educators, we know that learning is a life-long process. We have certainly embodied that philosophy and modeled it for our students this spring! While we can learn by being thrown into the deep end of the pool, generally we learn to swim better if we have lessons to help us learn good form and coaches who provide feedback for improvement. If this is true for us, it is even more so for our students. As we begin the summer term, I’d like to share some lessons learned from spring, offer some resources to support you in your work, and most of all, to thank you for all you do.

Best Practices

  • Faculty Teaching Circles are a great way to share what is working and what is challenging in the online environment. Some departments have organized group times to trade ideas, others have identified faculty mentors within the department who are experienced online instructors. 
  • Timely Response: Responses to student inquiries should be sent within 24 hours during the regular work week, and within 48 hours on the weekend or during holidays. Grading of submitted work should be completed within 7 days of submission.  
  • Communication: Tell your students how you prefer for them to communicate with you. Do you prefer your UNG email or the email within D2L? You may wish to forward the email within D2L to your UNG email automatically. For those of you who have not yet begun teaching, you might consider emailing your students any initial instructions for beginning the course at their UNG email, especially if you have any synchronous activity planned in the beginning. Students do not have access to D2L courses in advance, and many are nervous about where to go and how to begin the course. Include your communications guidance in the syllabus so students can refer back to it
  • Student Attendance: Attendance in online courses is established through completed activities, such as discussion posts, assignment submission, quiz or test completion, etc. This recommendation stands whether the work has been graded or not. This is the reason the mandatory attendance quiz and introduction post are used for role verification purposes.
  • Flexibility: Although documenting regular attendance is a best practice for student success and retention in both virtual and traditional environments, faculty should consider the following recommendations as we accommodate students who may fall ill during the semester or have responsibilities to help care for their families and friends:
    • Do not use an attendance grade.
    • Allow students to complete missing work in a timely fashion if they must miss class.
    • Do not require that a student submit a note from student health or their doctor to make up missing assignments.
  • Incompletes: In circumstances where a student misses a portion of the course, a grade of Incomplete may be a suitable option over withdrawing. Incompletes are inappropriate if the student has not completed approximately 75% of the course work.
  • Use Quality Matters (QM) template for courses: The template provides a navigational structure for students, helps ensure ADA compliance, and follows best practices in online course development. Faculty are expected to use the existing QM certified template specific to their course, but may adjust content to fit their preferences in textbook, assignments, assessments, etc.  Where there is not an existing template, individuals or teams of faculty have been identified to design a single template for the course that all instructors will use. DETI Instructional Designers are available to assist faculty in the development of new templates for courses that do not have them or with the modification of existing templates.
  • Use approved tools and platforms within D2L. Other tools can present security risks and may not be accessible to students with disabilities. Group texts for example may not be accessible to a student with disabilities. Several faculty have asked about the possibility of using Zoom. We are exploring the possibility of adding an institutional version with appropriate security features. In the interim, we ask that you utilize Blackboard Collaborate, Visual Huddle, TEAMs, or other approved platforms. If you have a technological need, please consult with DETI about available resources.
  • Assessment: Proctored activities are not required, but they are not prohibited either. It is important for instructors to consider the following: students may not have the necessary technology (e.g., webcams) to engage in proctoring, UNG cannot supply this type of equipment to the students, and the supply chain may make it difficult for them to acquire it; typical alternatives to online proctoring (i.e., on-campus proctoring or proctoring at a testing center) is not currently available and may not be available at the time of scheduling; and most proctoring services require a student fee. We have acquired a new license for Respondus Monitor as an alternative to ProctorU, which has some limitations as well, but which is free to use. Respondus Monitor does not work on Chromebooks. In addition, DETI is an excellent resource for exploring assessment best practices in online instruction, which might provide additional alternatives to proctoring. 
  • Transparency in Teaching and Learning (TILT) is an important pedagogy for all instruction. In virtual settings it can reduce students’ confusion in many ways. 
    • TILT makes transparent things that are sometimes unclear to students:
    • The purpose of an assignment: Why is it relevant?
    • A detailed description of the assignment: What do excellent examples look like?
    • Explicit criteria for grading: How will the assignment be assessed?

Resources

  • “Pocket Guide to Academic Integrity” from Integrity Seminars is a new module available in the resources section of D2L. This module contains a short video, two quizzes and provides the student with a certificate of completion. 
  • Facilitating Learning Online Certificate (FLOC)
  • CTLL and DETI continue to add workshops and resources for faculty to their websites. Attached is a list of some that are currently planned.

Thank you for all you do.
Be well,
Chaudron

Chaudron Gille, Ph.D.
Provost & Sr. VP for Academic Affairs

April 6, 2020: Zoom

Good afternoon,

With the urgent migration to remote work and instruction, vendors have escalated their campaigns to offer free or low-cost options to the faculty and staff of our institution. In many cases, these products are temporary trials or limited licenses, with an often expensive invoice coming at the end of the trial. In all cases, there is a contract or binding agreement between the user and the vendor. Virtual conferencing product representatives have reached out to universities across the country. Please note that security vulnerabilities have been disclosed over the last few weeks for several of these products, including Zoom. These vulnerabilities pose a risk to successful virtual meetings and to data stored on your computer and/or at UNG. Additionally, using unapproved or non-standard software may bring challenges, such as limited or no documentation specific to the university environment and limited or no support. By promoting the platforms that are currently approved, faculty, staff and students have access to consistent options across the environment, which leads to increased productivity, a higher level of user acceptance, and a more cohesive experience.

To streamline this user experience, we request that all faculty and staff use only UNG approved products for virtual meetings. UNG has several platforms available, including Microsoft Teams and Skype, Polycom Virtual Tele-Conference, VisualHuddle, and Blackboard Collaborate. While some of the products are best suited to one-on-one or small team meetings, others are purpose-built to facilitate distance education. A matrix of all available options to assist the user in choosing the proper virtual platform for each meeting environment. Regardless of the platform selected, both IT and DETI will have experts and documentation available to assist should you encounter any difficulties.

Realizing that our day-to-day procedures are undergoing a significant change, it is important to remember that student success is the university's primary objective. By using stable, secure and approved products, we will provide students the best opportunity to thrive in this environment. This is true for virtual conferencing products and all of the software and services that we use. In the end, everyone at UNG is responsible for the proper handling and protection of the data we use. It is of the utmost importance that we refrain from unnecessarily expanding the scope of products in use, overly complicating the use of technology, increasing risk, and hampering the successful completion of remote instruction and learning.

In summary, as of May 9, 2020, the only approved virtual conferencing platforms are Microsoft Teams and Skype, Polycom Virtual Tele‑Conference, VisualHuddle, and Blackboard Collaborate. Should you encounter any difficulties with these products, please contact the UNG IT Service Desk by email helpdesk@ung.edu and phone extension 1922 or DETI for Blackboard Collaborate support.

Sincerely,

Chaudron & Steve

Chaudron Gille, Ph.D., Provost & Sr. VPAA and Dr. Steven F. Mcleod, Chief Information Officer

April 3, 2020: Message from the Provost

Dear Faculty,

As instruction has resumed, and we have more students who have completed our survey on their access to technology, I want to share some data points and some of the ways we are responding. First, the good news, our reports show that as of Monday evening, approximately 90% of our students had logged into their courses. We are monitoring this daily and have a team in place to reach out to students who have not logged in. We also encourage you to use the Early Alert form in D2L to report students who are struggling or not engaged. We do have students who have technology challenges, and I ask that you try to be flexible with them.

Students with no access to technology

  • The Brightspace Pulse app is available free to download and can be used to access courses.
  • As of Tuesday afternoon, we had loaned 10 laptops and had about 160 more available. Students may request a laptop through the Student Equipment Loaner Program form or by email to helpdesk@ung.edu.
  • For students who have a device, but challenges with spotty internet, please refer them to the Internet Connection Resources page. This page is part of the UNG Remote Life resources site.
  • Dr.Conneely and I are working with our teams to offer limited access to computers and Wi‑Fi on the Gainesville and Dahlonega campuses while protecting the safety of students, faculty and staff, and in accordance with state and local guidance. We will gauge the need on the other campuses, but thus far, we have only heard from Gainesville and Dahlonega. As soon as we have a protocol and staffing in place, we will communicate this to students.

Many of the concerns are related to exams and proctoring.

  • We learned yesterday that Respondus Lockdown Browser, which we had referred you to as a no-cost substitute for Proctor U, does not work on Chromebook or mobile devices. For more information, read DETI's information about Respondus Lockdown Browser.
  • Any virtual proctoring tool, Respondus or Proctor U, requires a webcam. IT does not have any to lend to students, and IT has informed us that they are very difficult to purchase now.
  • For more information on using Respondus, view the Respondus website. There are also helpful guidelines on DETI for forms of assessment that preserve academic integrity but do not require proctoring.
  • Consider asking students to affirm the Student Honor Code statements as part of your exams.
  • I have been asked if faculty can plan to have their classes come to campus to take the exam with them. Given the continuing extension of social distancing protocols (6 feet apart, groups of no more than 10), it would not be prudent to plan for entire classes to come to campus for exams. Also, remember that students in Dahlonega have moved home and may no longer be within commuting distance. Our ability to use the computer labs will be restricted to meeting the needs of students who have no other access to necessary equipment or resources. In some instances, a department has requested access for a particular type of equipment or function for their students for a limited time. Those plans must be submitted to me via the department head for review and approval. An individual faculty member should not make a plan of this type independently.

Given the fluid environment that we are in, I would like to reiterate that while there is a requirement for a final exam or activity, there is no requirement for a proctored activity. You may substitute some other type of assessment for your traditional exam given during finals week if approved by your department head, or adapt the assessment to meet the needs of a subset of your students like removing the requirement for the Lockdown browser for students (PDF). Also, please remember to update your syllabi, perhaps by way of an addendum highlighting the modifications you have made, and notify students of the changes.

As noted previously, we have extended the deadline for withdrawal with no academic penalty to April 10. If, after trying the online format, students want to consider withdrawing, they should submit the Hardship Withdrawal Request form. We will consult with them, as there may be other implications they need to consider.

Thank you for everything you are doing for our students.

Be well,

Chaudron

Chaudron Gille, Ph.D.
Provost and Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs

March 30, 2020: Pass/Fail Grading - USG Statement

Dear Faculty,

The USG has shared the following statement in response to inquiries regarding its decision not to implement a pass/fail approach to grading this semester:

“The University System of Georgia is aware some institutions around the nation have decided to shift to pass/fail grading after transitioning to remote education. We are confident our students will rise to the challenge, and the USG will do everything in its power to help them do so. We trust our faculty to teach and grade students effectively.

In times of adversity, we should reach higher, not lower. Maintaining high academic standards is critical to the success of USG students now and in the future. Continuing letter grading for the final few weeks of the semester will allow faculty to assess the performance of students in the same manner as they always have. The USG is confident that faculty and students will rely on the resilience they have shown thus far and continue to meet our high standards.

While online instruction will be new to many, thousands of USG students and faculty have already experienced it through nearly 11,000 online course sections offered prior to USG's temporary shift to all-online instruction. In addition, the USG has offered resources to assist faculty and resources to assist students make the transition.”

Best,

Chaudron

Chaudron Gille, Ph.D.
Provost and Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs

March 27, 2020: Resuming Instruction

Dear Faculty,

As we gear up to resume instruction next week, I want to thank you for all you have been doing to prepare for this moment and to share with you some resources to support you and your students. The suddenness of our transition, and the pandemic environment in general, has had everyone scrambling and created a heightened stress level for many of you and our students. We recognize that these are stressful times, and we have been working to put additional supports in place.

For your students:

  • Supplemental Instruction, Tutoring, Academic Coaches, Academic Advising, and the Libraries have all moved their services online for students.
  • We are developing a peer mentoring/engagement program with a team of students that we expect to launch next week.
  • We are surveying students this week to determine their level of access to the internet and computers so that we may assist those in need; however, there may be some areas of the state where this will continue to be a challenge.
  • A new website, Making the Transition to Remote Learning, is available as a one-stop-shop for students to connect to resources and get tips on being successful in this new environment.
  • While we are urging students to stay the course, we know that some will want to withdraw. We are extending the deadline for withdrawal without academic penalty to April 10. The process for this will be communicated to students next week.

How you can help your students:

  • Minimize use of video or other activities that require a lot of bandwidth; keep technology mobile-friendly.
  • Keep instruction asynchronous.
  • Minimize or eliminate proctored activities. If necessary, try to use Respondus Lockdown Browser & Monitor, rather than Proctor U. We are concerned about the ability of Proctor U to meet the demand across the nation, and they charge students a fee. With Respondus, there is no charge. Also, note the requirement for a proctored activity in UNG Online and eCore courses has been waived for this semester, and there is no requirement for proctoring for courses that were transitioned to remote delivery.
  • Temper your expectations. Be flexible with due dates and group project requirements, recognizing that they may have access issues and are likely dealing with additional family stresses and responsibilities at home, just as many of you are.
  • You are now the key touchpoint for your students. Encourage them to have a growth mindset, to give themselves a little time to adjust to the new environment, and to practice self-care. Consider reaching out for a general wellness check. We are all in this together.
  • We will ask that you conduct an informal roll verification next week and notify us via the D2L Early Alert form to identify students who are not engaging in the online environment so that we can reach out to them.

Some faculty have asked about how to handle final exams. Please keep the following guidance in mind:

  • As always, exams should only be given during the final exam week. Exam times are included in our calculation for SACSCOC instructional hours.
  • Minimize proctored activities to include final exams and consider using Respondus Lockdown Browser & Monitor as an alternative to Proctor U if you must.
  • Consider using timed, but asynchronous testing with an extended open window for testing. This provides the greatest flexibility for our students who may be juggling a number of new demands on their time.
  • If synchronous testing is deemed necessary, you must schedule it during your regularly scheduled exam time. Any departure from this schedule may cause conflicts with other exams.

For you:

  • Additional resources are being added to the Keep Teaching USG website continuously, so check back. The DETI website also continues to be updated with resources to support remote delivery of instruction.
  • The Center for Teaching Learning & Leadership (CTLL) is developing programming to support our faculty working in shifting roles and environments. As these become available, we will let you know.
  • You may find the helpful resources on the Care for Your Corona Virus Anxiety page.
  • Some useful tips and reminders for effectively working from home:
    • Find a workspace and claim it, preferably one that is relatively free of distractions
    • Continue to commute each day—go for a brief walk, or create some ritual that signals “going in to work.”
    • Try to maintain a routine and schedule.
    • Take regular breaks. Take time at lunch for some social interaction, so you feel less isolated.
    • Know that you will get distracted, so be kind to yourself.
    • Set a time to stop each day, including establishing response times to your students.
      • For example: “I will respond to emails within 24 hours.” You can’t be “on” 24/7.

We will continue to share updates and information with you as it becomes available. I have asked that faculty be copied on university communications to students so that you are aware of the information being shared with them and are equipped to respond to questions. Thank you, again, for rising to this challenge so that we can continue to serve our students.

Be well,

Chaudron

Chaudron Gille,  Ph.D.
Provost and Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs

Communications to Department Heads

April 10, 2020: A Week in Review

Colleagues,

This week in review is more of a look forward. In some respects, it is comforting to be moving through phased responses to the COVID-19 situation and from issues of emergency crisis management to longer-term operational issues. At the same time, this is clearly a continually evolving situation necessitating waves of responses. We hope the following update provides timely information and addresses a number of questions and concerns. As a result, there is much to share and this message is long and full of information developed over the week and in consultation with many offices. Please communicate the items within as you deem necessary and to whom you deem necessary.

Summer Instruction:

As you know, we received the directive last week to move all summer instruction to online. We appreciate the quick response by departments to assess and adjust the summer schedule where needed and we wanted to provide additional guidance.

It is important to make the distinction between the move to remote delivery of instruction, which aptly describes our response to the rapidly emerging crisis during the Spring term, and online instruction for Summer and moving forward. Led by DETI, UNG established an online campus, policies and procedures for online instruction built on a platform of best practices, sound pedagogy, and instructional design principles. Although the summer term is rapidly approaching, we have time to align our instruction with UNG Online practices to maintain our tradition of high-quality online instruction. Therefore, in keeping with UNG faculty handbook policy 8.4.1, all faculty teaching online this summer must have a Facilitating Learning Online Certificate (FLOC) prior to teaching online.

The Facilitated Learning Online Course is a self-paced online course focused on theory, concepts, and practices for effective online facilitation. The course consists of eight modules with most taking approximately an hour to complete. Find more information about FLOC certification and enrolling in the course. Please encourage all faculty teaching online this summer who have not completed the course to enroll in and begin the FLOC course now.

Also, in keeping with UNG faculty handbook policy 4.3.2, all fully online courses will be Quality Matters (QM) certified. The Quality Matters Program is a nationally recognized, faculty-centered, peer review process designed to certify the quality of online courses and online components. The QM peer review process focuses on course design, not course delivery/content. More information about QM online Course Peer Reviews and also on the UNG DETI website, but a brief outline of the review process follows. An important point to highlight is that courses may be developed and taught using QM guidelines and DETI instructional assistance during the Summer 2020 term and reviewed for QM certification in the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 term.

  • The faculty assigned to teach online is certified through FLOC.
  • The faculty/designer(s) complete/s the preliminary QM paperwork before the course starts.
  • An Instructional Designer is assigned to stand by for assistance.
  • The faculty design/s the course based on QM principles and delivers the course.
  • The course is delivered during Summer and the actual review is done during the Fall/Spring term.
  • The course does not need to be certified before it is delivered the first time.
  • The certification is valid for three years.
  • The courses also qualify for the incentive money if this is the first design. A contract is needed for these purposes and the compensation is $2000 for a 3 or 4 credit hour course and $1000 for a 1 or 2 credit hour course. See below for more guidance on template development.
  • If a course is designed by more than one faculty member, they can split the incentive money.

In reading the UNG policy on distance learning you will learn that a proctored activity is required of all online courses. However, we have serious and continuing concerns about the ability for proctoring services to handle the capacity of requests, students' access to technology needed for proctoring, the added fees associated with proctored services, and lessons learned about the use of synchronous activities. Therefore, for this summer only, UNG will waive the requirement for a proctored activity in online courses. If you have already created the new course format in Banner, you may need to remove the note about required proctored activities. eCore may provide additional and different guidance and instructors of eCore should consult those directives.

Since our move from remote delivery of instruction to online instruction will engage heavy and unprecedented use of the QM process, the following additional guidelines are provided:

  • Versions of courses scheduled for Summer 2020 already QM certified must use that template only. Remember, templates are developed based on structural design and delivery principles and components. Instructors can develop and deliver their own content within those templates.
  • Uncertified courses scheduled for Summer 2020 will need to develop a QM template as described above. For multi-section courses, only one template will be reviewed for QM certification and this template must be used for all sections taught this summer.
  • It is the expectation that all courses will operate under QM principles, but it is also noted that, in rare instances, some courses may need to be exempted from QM review. All courses without existing, approved QM templates will be loaded with the Online Course Template in D2L. The OCT provides a minimal structural shell and is prepopulated with items that align with QM design principles such as a syllabus template, a model module containing the 4 key QM design elements, templated faculty to student communication examples, etc.
  • For this summer only, the incentive funding will come in two payments of $500/$1000 each (depending on the credit hours) with the first payment at initiation of the contract and the second at completion/certification.

UNG employs an online instructional design incentive program that involves a contract for QM review and compensation for its successful completion. As described above, a contract will need to be developed for each course without an existing QM certified template, only one contract/template will be allowed for multi-section courses, and no contracts/templates will be allowed this summer for courses with existing QM certified templates.

What we need from Deans and Department Heads now please note that the data below will be collected at a later time (probably mid to late next week), but please keep track of it now:

  1. Finish adjusting your summer schedules. Track those changes for reporting. All courses will need to be coded in Banner as online courses in order to capture the appropriate campus designation and associated tuition/fees. The USG is currently determining how tuition and fees will be assessed for summer term. Charlotte Wade will provide standard language that you may use in responding to any inquiries. Also note that the current plan is for any course fees associated with a course not to be assessed this summer. If you have any concerns related to this for any of your courses, please notify Academic Affairs.
  2. Identify the faculty designer/s for each course without an existing QM certified template. Once your schedule is complete, AA/DETI will provide a list of courses on your schedule with and without existing QM certified templates. You may identify more than one designer to work on each template. They must work together to develop the one template per course and share the compensation.
  3. Identify courses that should not move through QM review and provide a concise justification. Rare, reasonable justifications might include: accreditation standards, internship/practicum or other similar courses, etc. Your requests will be collected and reviewed by AA/DETI.
  4. DETI has devised several design options for departments with multi-section courses to consider. We encourage you to contact DETI now for further discussion.
  5. Based on lessons learned concerning information security and technology assistance for students and faculty, we strongly discourage platforms and technologies outside of D2L and those not supported by UNG for any online instruction purposes. UNG DETI and IT are available for consultation and assistance if such alternatives are considered necessary. Please reference the message sent earlier this week from Drs. Gille and McLeod, which indicates approved technology platforms.
  6. Synchronous activities are strongly discouraged. The message sent last week described a number of lessons learned about how they present serious barriers for our students.

Spring 2020 Student Evaluations of Instruction and Instructor:

Student evaluations are important components of formative assessment. However, we also understand the many concerns voiced by faculty about the use of these assessments for Spring 2020 in the Faculty Annual Review process. Therefore, the following guidance is provided by the Provost after consultation with the Deans.

  • Spring 2020 student evaluations will be administered as planned.
  • Faculty are encouraged to review the evaluation data for formative purposes.
  • Prior to their 2020 annual review, faculty will notify their Department Head about their desire to include or not include this data for that evaluation. If the data is not included, it should be noted in the FAR in some way. We will ask colleagues in the Faculty Senate to assist in developing standardized language.

Promotion and Tenure:

President Jacobs approved a proposal from the Provost and Deans to consider the impact that COVID-19 will have on some faculty as they apply for promotion and tenure. More information about the process will follow from the Provost, but this proposal will allow faculty to apply for a one year pause in their tenure clock after receiving notification of eligibility for promotion and/or tenure. Faculty will be required to demonstrate how the COVID-19 situation impacted their progress in the P&T process. The applications will be reviewed by the Deans and Provost and recommendations will be forwarded to the President for decision.

Testing:

We are aware that a number of students are slated for graduation this term but have not met their legislative requirements nor are they enrolled in POLS 1101, HIST 2111, or HIST 2112. We are working with the Registrar’s Office and the Testing Center to identify, contact, and arrange remote testing options for these students.

We are also aware of some students who planned credit by exam options administered through the testing center for graduation (e.g., CLEP). The testing center is currently closed and these test options require specialized software for administration. Currently, there are not alternative testing options available. We need your help identifying any graduating students who may be dependent on credit by exam options. Unless they previously registered for a test, it would be difficult for us to otherwise identify them. We may also reach back out to you in the near future to explore options for these students.

General Education Redesign:

The slated town hall meetings to discuss General Education Redesign organized by the system office have been pushed to Fall semester. The impact of CoVid-19 on the calendar for the redesign is unclear, but there has been some discussion of pushing implementation to Fall 2023.

Extra/Co-Curricular Summer Activities:

All in person camps and programs for high school, middle, or elementary school children are being cancelled or moved to an online format. If you have any questions about activities planned by your department please contact Academic Affairs.

Orientations:

May Orientation sessions will be 100% virtual and follow existing dates May 12-15. These orientations are only for students registering for Summer AND Fall (sometimes called summer starters).

  • What still needs developed:
    • NEST will create synchronous morning sessions (approximately 2 hours) covering university processes, the 'tech talk', student account setup, etc.
    • Departments need to coordinate with Academic Advising to create virtual MYM sessions—schedule forthcoming.
      • MFAs should be ready to serve their students, by campus to present the MYM via TEAMs

June, July, and August Orientation sessions will be hybrids—online component with F2F component in August (dates below).

Departments will need to record MYMs for the online orientation component (in the LMS).

  • Professional Advisors will have 1-1 advising ahead of orientation dates to meet with students via TEAMs and advance schedule Fall starters.
  • In August abbreviated non-registration sessions will take place (tentative dates):
    • Cumming Aug 3 and 4
    • Oconee Aug 6 and 7
    • Dahlonega Aug 8
    • Gainesville Aug 10 and 11
    • Blue Ridge Aug 12
    • Dahlonega Aug 13, 14, 15

Website redesign reminder:

At the last Academic Affairs Committee meeting, the Web Communications Team provided an update on the status of the website redesign process. Part of that process is to centralize program pages. The Web team is soliciting your feedback related to your program pages. Please fill out this Centralized Degree Feedback Form.

Assessment:

Though courses have successfully transitioned to remote delivery for the rest of spring, it may not be possible to assess student learning for institutional, program, and accreditation assessment through our normal processes. Please work with IE if you have any questions or concerns and note that we will need to document any changes to assessment supporting general education, program, and accreditation outcomes.

As always, thank you for all you are doing to serve our students and support the faculty!

Sincerely,

Steven A. Lloyd, Ph.D. Vice Provost
University of North Georgia 322, Price Memorial
706.864.1840

April 3, 2020: A Week in Review

Colleagues,

Our faculty have engaged in remarkable efforts to be prepared for this past week and we applaud their tremendous work. All of us have undergone various stages of emotional turmoil on this journey together. We are learning that the students are going through a delayed version of the same with their return to academics just this week. Here are some things we have learned as we reflect over the week and the data collected and reviewed to date. You may be aware of some or all of it and we hope you find it useful as you and your faculty continue to work toward resolving student issues.

  1. A large number of students have not reengaged in their D2L courses (~980 as of last report). Please encourage faculty to reach out to those students early and often and to complete the D2L Early Alert form. The Early Alert form was brought to the instructor homepage for all D2L courses in an effort to be more visible. If faculty are not able to make contact, filling out the Early Alert form will send that information to a dedicated team that will take up the effort to connect with students. The form can be completed for any concern a faculty member has about a student. We will also be using internal reports about student D2L logins to identify and reach out to students who do not appear to have reengaged. A multifaceted approach will surely work best.
  2. Synchronized experiences, including proctored testing, are causing problems for a number of students. For some students, new time commitment means they are not available at the same times they were for face-to-face courses. Some students are now taking care of others, have changes in their work schedules, or have had to begin working. Six percent of students responding to the technology needs assessment survey (4100+ responses) do not have devices with full capabilities for remote instruction. This includes access to webcams and microphones, which our IT department cannot supply and supply and delivery chains may not be able to address. Many are sharing computers (7%) & and struggling with internet connectivity issues (9%). In short, many students are not able to comply with these requests.
  3. Some faculty held exams this week even as early as Monday, which left students feeling unprepared and underreported after two weeks of suspended instruction. Many students did not know to return to academics on Monday for various reasons and many who did have not kept pace with University and faculty messaging. Some students had not fully resolved technology issues and internet access and others were not prepared for specific technical requirements for programs such as Respondus.
  4. Students are feeling overwhelmed because of the new course platform, new responsibilities at home, general stress and anxiety, technology issues, financial issues, and because they feel as though the shift to online has created more work in some classes and that they are left on their own to learn and figure it out. A technology survey was sent to all students last Friday. To date, there is a ~20% response rate. From that sample, ~42% have never taken an online course. As you can imagine, this has been a major focus of student concern and compounded by all of the others.
  5. As we have learned more about asymptomatic transmission of the virus, the option of bringing students to campus for access to computer labs is looking increasingly difficult to implement in a manner that provides sufficient protections for the health and safety of students and employees. We have a limited amount of equipment that can be checked out for the semester by students, and we are working toward having designated areas where students could access the internet from their cars. This information will be communicated to students as soon as it is finalized. We also have information and IT staff who can work with students on identifying ways to gain internet access at home.

As always, we appreciate all you are doing within your departments and your continued flexibility in working with students as they reengage in their courses.

Sincerely,

Steven A. Lloyd, Ph.D. Vice Provost
University of North Georgia, 322 Price Memorial
706.864.1840

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