Updates from the Provost

Read the updates sent by Provost Joan Lorden. Items are listed in the order in which they were sent, with the most recent listed first.

A list of all NinerNotice and Chancellor messages can be found on the campus updates page.

Dear students,

I hope that you all are beginning to adapt as we face changing circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have heard from many of you and understand that many students have additional personal stress at this time.

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Faculty Executive Committee has voted to create an exception to the UNC Charlotte grading policy for spring 2020. This change gives students the option to request Pass/No Credit grades to replace standard letter grades for any or all of their Spring 2020 courses at the completion of the semester. Instruction for all courses will continue, and faculty will provide letter grades as usual at the end of the semester. Students who wish to accept their letter grade for a course will still have that option.

For those students who wish to accept their letter grade (A, B, C, D, F), then no further action will be required on their part. At the completion of the semester, those students who wish to replace a letter grade with Pass/No Credit will need to request this accommodation by June 1. The Office of the Registrar is working on a method to collect these requests and will share information as soon as it is developed.

I encourage you to consult with your advisor, program coordinator, department chair, or college dean if there is any concern about how the Pass/No Credit accommodation may impact future study in your major, professional school admission, or licensure.

Please view the details of the Pass/No Credit accommodation in the Exception to the Grading Policy for Spring 2020 here.

While we are not in an ideal situation, our goal is to ensure you can complete the semester and stay on track for graduation. Please connect with academic resources to assist you.

Be safe and stay well.

Sincerely,

 

Joan F. Lorden
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Dear colleagues, 

As we adapt to life in a virtual realm, I would like to share some encouragement and early lessons learned. You have been amazing about rapidly moving to remote instruction, but I understand this doesn’t mean your content has been revised pedagogically to be optimized for online learning. Be kind to yourself and your students. We may have to settle for good enough at this time.

We need to remember that the Digital Divide is real and exists for many of our financially stressed students. Many of our students may not have the technology to learn effectively online, and we cannot expect them to bridge this gap by themselves. Just as we are scrambling to figure out the best tools, so are they; and we have the resources of the university at our disposal, they may not. For example, we have learned that Chromebooks, which many students use, are not compatible with WebEx or Respondus.

Atkins Library has distributed laptops to many students, and others are using campus computer labs, at least for now. Most of our residential students have left campus and we are encouraging all students to return home. Further, students may be sharing digital resources with other family members, or they may be working extra hours as a mandatory employee. So synchronous instruction may not work for them.

Please be flexible with your students, and listen to their feedback. Avoid assignments that require our students to come to campus. If you hear they are unable to access software, or use WebEx or Respondus, give them an alternate path to complete assignments. Our students will be served best right now if the focus is on creative ways to fulfill course objectives, so that every student, regardless of circumstance, can successfully complete the course.

Below is further guidance from OneIT and the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). I encourage you to check out the many workshops CTL continues to provide (new topics added) and take advantage of this training as you can. 

Sincerely,


 

 

Joan F. Lorden
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs


Helping All Students Access Your WebEx Session Content
Some students may not be able to join your live WebEx session for a variety of reasons due to the current pandemic (childcare, eldercare, illness, lack of proper equipment, internet issues, etc.).  Here are a couple ideas you may consider to help these students:

 
  • Share your lecture materials with students ahead of time & ask students to dial in to the telephone number for your WebEx session.  If you are using slides, handouts, or other visual aids in your WebEx presentation, you can send these materials to students before the session starts by posting them in Canvas.  Then they can dial in by phone to listen and follow along with the materials you had sent to them.

  • Record and share your WebEx sessions with students to review after the fact.  Even if students cannot join the live session as it is happening, they could watch the recorded version at a later time.  All WebEx sessions can be recorded, downloaded and shared in Canvas, with captions automatically added that are editable by you, to make reviewing the recordings more helpful. 

Video Captioning Makes for Greater Accessibility 
All recordings, including WebEx recordings, that are
uploaded into Canvas are automatically machine captioned with over 93% accuracy.  These captions can be edited by the user, too.   

Some Students May Not Have the Correct Equipment for Proctored Tests With Respondus Monitor or Respondus Lockdown Browser
For faculty who have students who lack the necessary
equipment, you can refer to a new FAQ that explains how you could to determine which students are affected by this and ideas for alternative assessments.   Please note that Respondus Lockdown Browser also does not work with Chromebooks.

Students May Not Have Internet Access Readily Available to Them
We know some students have trouble accessing the Internet at home. Students can use eduroam to go online at any of the close to 20,000
eduroam campuses across the US! There are 38 sites across the Carolinas alone, including many campuses in the UNC System. See: How do I log in to eduroam wireless on my computer? and How do I log in to eduroam wireless using a phone/tablet?

Internet Providers and Software Giants Respond with New Offers 
Adobe is providing students temporary at-home access to Adobe Creative Cloud for personal use. Active students were emailed Thursday to follow these instructions to
enable access to Creative Cloud Desktop Apps on their personal device. Click here for a resource list of IT-related services announced to help you learn, teach, and work remotely. Plus, Barnes and Noble, Pearson, and Wiley have all made electronic content free and available through VitalSource.

Colleagues,

Together, we are charting unknown territory as we continuously pivot in response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic affecting our community. I appreciate all you are doing to provide alternative course delivery while guiding and supporting your students.

Beginning March 23, all classes, including lab sections, will be delivered in an alternative remote or online format. We must adhere to social distancing guidance from state and federal authorities. I hope you have already reached out to the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) for support and guidance. If not, please do. They have many resources and workshops to assist you.  

In addition to the resources provided through CTL, faculty may need staff support in order to bring instructional labs online. Supervisors have the authority to designate staff as mandatory employees in order to provide assistance to faculty to conduct and videotape experiments if this is the only way to meet course objectives. 

For individualized study such as dissertation, thesis, honors project or other faculty-directed research or engineering senior design for which the use of university equipment is essential and where numbers are small enough to permit effective social distancing, students may work with their faculty mentors or supervisors to enable the work to continue on campus.  

Please keep in mind that many students have extraordinary family obligations at this time, so ensure that online delivery is not unnecessarily increasing student workload. Be responsive to student feedback and make adjustments if necessary. Especially during these circumstances, we must be supportive so students can progress. We want to emphasize to students that they can complete the semester and we are here to help. Review these additional tips and faculty resources.

Guiding your students who are self-quarantining

If a student informs you they are self-quarantining, you may be wondering what you should do next. It is important to remember that anyone can choose to self-quarantine if they believe there is a need to do so. It does not mean they have COVID-19 or are at risk of developing the illness. 

First, please verify your student has completed the self-quarantine form on the Emergency Management website.  After this, we encourage you to exercise caution to avoid unnecessarily causing alarm among your students. The Office of Emergency Management and the Student Health Center are in close contact with the Mecklenburg County Health Department. Should any of our faculty, staff or students test positive for COVID-19, they will work together to initiate contact tracing quickly in order to notify those who may have been exposed. 

I continue to be extraordinarily grateful for and awed by the work of our Academic Affairs faculty and staff to address the needs of our students under these adverse circumstances that have upended our semester.  You continue to prove that the phrase, “We are All Niners” is not an empty slogan. Thank you. 

Sincerely,


 

 

Joan F. Lorden

Dear colleagues,

Many thanks to all of you who have moved quickly to put your courses into alternative formats.  Our goal is to help our students complete the semester, and you have stepped up. As this unprecedented situation continues to unfold, I am asking for more of your help in some specific ways. 

If you have not already done so, reach out to all the students in your classes to let them know either that your class will continue next week in an online format (and how it will work), or that you will be taking the one-week hiatus.  It is also very important for you to ensure that students know that you want them to be successful in your class, and that you will work with them to make that possible. Students (and their families) are understandably concerned, and only you can provide the reassurance that you will be flexible as we work our way through this new landscape. 

Since we cannot know, at this point, how things will play out in the weeks ahead, I am also asking that you consider the framework you use for assessing students’ mastery of the learning outcomes in your classes.  In particular, please consider putting in place assignments, exams, and other assessments so that you have enough information to assign a grade should it become necessary to end the semester prematurely.

We are amassing resources to support students and faculty and will be providing links and FAQs through the Emergency Management site and teaching.uncc.edu/keepteaching.  The latter has a wealth of information that can help you navigate what I know is unfamiliar terrain for many of you, and more will be added as we learn about your needs.

If you have questions or concerns that cannot be answered through the emergency FAQs or in your college or department, please reach out. 

And THANK YOU! I know that the University is asking a lot, but the role that you, the faculty, play is critical.  What you are doing to make this situation work for our students is essential and very much appreciated.

Sincerely,


 

 

Joan F. Lorden

Dear colleagues,

As the University faces the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to first thank you for your understanding and cooperation during this unprecedented situation. For the health and well-being of our campus community and our greater community, the University is encouraging social distancing and is asking instructors to transition to alternative course delivery methods beginning Monday, March 16.

Our goal is to ensure that students can successfully complete their required coursework and stay on track for graduation. Each instructor should use their judgement to determine the best way to accomplish this. While some in-person instruction may still be necessary in studios, labs, practicums or clinicals, I ask you to be flexible and look for creative ways to accomplish the key objectives for all your courses, including these.

To avoid scheduling conflicts, instructors who choose to hold synchronous sessions should do so only at the day and time of their regularly scheduled class.

All instructors should communicate their course plans to students by 5:00 p.m. Friday, March 13. For the benefit of students who do not have adequate access to the internet or computers, the library and college computer labs will be available.

Please use the resources and workshops at the Center for Teaching and Learning to assist you in transitioning to alternative course delivery methods. They are available for ongoing support. There are also colleagues in your college or department who may have considerable expertise in online delivery. If you are one of those, please try to make yourself available to others.

This is a difficult time for us all. I ask you to especially be mindful of those among our campus community who have family or loved ones in high-risk areas. Please be compassionate in all your communications and don’t share unconfirmed information about COVID-19.

Thank you for your initiative to act quickly to ensure the University can continue to offer instruction during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sincerely,


 

 

Joan F. Lorden
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Dear colleagues,

As we resume classes and welcome students back to campus from spring break, we face a new challenge. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that forced the cancellation of spring study abroad programs in several countries has now reached North Carolina. While there is no imminent threat to the University, we need to be prepared for the continued spread of the virus and the potential disruption of classes and other institutional activities.

First, please note that we have students who have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days due to their travel to certain areas affected by COVID-19 and designated as Level 3 or 4 by the CDC, at this time China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran. I ask that you provide maximum flexibility to these students to allow them to complete course requirements (e.g. projects, quizzes and exams). All these students should have documentation from their travel.  Please also provide flexibility to students who are absent due to respiratory virus symptoms (fever, coughing, sneezing, sore throat) whether or not they have a doctor’s note. As a campus community, we must be proactive to minimize the spread of illness.

We should also be aware that many of our international students and scholars from affected countries have the additional stress of concerns about families and friends at home.  We have reached out to these students to make them aware of support services but some may need your assistance or encouragement to take advantage of this support. 

Second, all instructors should begin planning for the possibility of delivering the remainder of their spring courses virtually. All courses at UNC Charlotte have a Canvas shell and we know that over 70% of our classes use Canvas for at least some functions.  For all instructors, but especially those not currently using Canvas, the Center for Teaching and Learning has assembled just-in-time resources for teaching continuity (https://teaching.uncc.edu/keepteaching).  

Use this worksheet to guide you in planning for virtual instruction. All instructors should familiarize themselves with these teaching continuity options, including WebEx for videoconferencing. The University is exploring the feasibility of providing an online proctoring tool for all courses. The Center for Teaching and Learning is a resource to you for training, teaching guides, self-paced online workshops, and other support.  

We will continue to monitor this rapidly changing situation and will keep you informed of any additional impact on instruction or programming. Please refer to Emergency Management for FAQs and the most updated information, and keep washing your hands. 

Sincerely,



 

 

Joan F. Lorden