Spring 2020 Class Note

Dear Students…

As you already know, the global COVID-19 pandemic led WSU to convert all classes to online distance learning. This proved to be a challenge all of us in many ways, and required creative flexibility. Across all of my classes, I made a number of changes to the classes, office hours, syllabus, and calendar, as discussed further below.

Writing this at the end of the Spring 2020 semester, I do not yet know exactly how the Fall 2020 courses will shape up in terms of synchronous, asynchronous, live Zoom, recorded videos, in-person meetings, etc. Don’t take any of the changes described below as evidence of what will happen in the fall semester. It’s too soon to tell. Detailed fall course information will be posted in August 2020.

(As an aside: If you were a student of one of my Spring 2020 classes — DTC 201.04, 355.01, 355.02, or 477.01 — and you are looking for your class’s syllabus, calendar, or project descriptions, I have posted those as PDFs to Blackboard.)

Due to the pandemic, I made the following changes to classes and office hours:

  • There were no more live classes on a schedule. You did not have to “attend” a class at the regularly-scheduled time via Zoom or any other service.
  • All lectures and software demonstrations were recorded. I used Panopto to record videos, then post them to Blackboard. They were organized by Unit and Lesson rather than by date. You could watch the videos at a time that was convenient for you.
  • For a live Zoom session with me, you could use my appointment scheduler. It was online at tdvx.info/appt, and allowed for 5, 10, and 20-minute appointments. I opened up all of my class times to all of my students, so a morning class student could book an afternoon appointment if that was most convenient. Many students took advantage of this.
  • I set up other support options: Slack channels and Blackboard discussions. You got an invitation to join your class’s Slack channel, and I regularly posted news there. In addition, I created Blackboard discussion sections for each unit and lesson.
  • I was (and still am) available by email. Contact me at [email protected] if you have questions or comments.

I also made changes to each syllabus and calendar, which meant:

  • I made the rest of the semester simpler and more flexible. I collapsed some projects into others, revised the overall balance of grades, and pushed many deadlines to the end of the semester.
  • I provided a greater array of online training and reference resources. You needed to be more self-directed about completing these in a timely manner. Some of you were better at this than others. Notably, I could track your time watching my recorded lectures using Blackboard’s user statistics.
  • I had more grace and flexibility with deadlines. This was not unlimited, but we were — we are — in a crisis. But seriously, there was a lot of grace here.
  • You should have regularly checked your class’s syllabus and calendar for changes specific to your class. And you should have paid attention to updates sent out via Slack and Blackboard announcements.
  • You have the option to pursue a Pass/Fail option for your class. Please watch the DTC video and then contact Jill Shafer if you want more information.

You should continue to stay informed by following WSU’s COVID-19 page and CDC guidelines on protection and prevention. Please be very careful about online news sources and social media; there is a tremendous amount of misinformation out there.

And as before, so it remains now: Your personal wellbeing — physical and emotional — is especially important right now. You are all in my thoughts, and I hope you are staying safe and sane. Please take care of yourselves, and contact me if you have questions or concerns about your class or anything else.

Sincerely,
Tor