Start of Semester Updates (Message from Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lyn Lepre, Ph.D. to Faculty)
With only a few days to go before the fall semester begins, I wanted to check in again to assure that you have important information for a successful start.
Again, thank you for all that you are doing to make it possible for Radford to welcome back students, who are overwhelmingly eager to return to the classroom and, under your expert guidance and instruction, get back to learning and growing into knowledgeable, enlightened, and ethical citizens. I appreciate your patience as we have worked through all the uncertainties that COVID-19 has brought to our lives and our University.
The web site www.radford.edu/classroom-status has been created to provide faculty with the current technology status of rooms and it is being updated as each room is completed. Staff will continue working this weekend, with a goal of having the majority completed by Monday.
Although some of these spaces may not be your usual teaching locations, the additional space needed to support physical distancing in the classroom is requiring use of many of these spaces. Instructors are encouraged to do the best they can with each space understanding that it may not be ideally configured.
I respectfully ask you to not change the modality of your courses to something other than what is listed in Banner. We are working hard to assure that our students have schedules that work for their different learning styles, which might include the need for face-to-face classes. Advisors have been working individually with students to ascertain these needs, and we hope that their class experiences will be reflective of what they see on their schedules.
Communication with Students
As I noted in my last message, the deans have shared with me that all our faculty, chairs, and directors have been working throughout the summer to help our students, create robust teaching plans, and adapt to the classroom social distancing policies required for us to deliver the high-quality educational experiences in a safe environment. I know it has been a challenge, and I am both appreciative of your work and proud to be a part of a community that places such a high value on education and caring for the health of our Radford family.
Questions still remain about the class schedule and how best to communicate with our students about the modality in which their courses will be delivered.
As many changes have been made to class schedules, including changes to delivery mode (online, hybrid, synchronous, asynchronous), students may be confused as to where to go on the first day, what online versus hybrid actually means, and the like. To help address this, we have developed a few strategies to assure that students have a full understanding of their schedule, and faculty will not be faced with groups of confused students on the first day.
First, in conjunction with the admissions team, all students who have online or hybrid courses on their schedule will receive a phone call from a Radford staff member. This phone call will define terms (online, hybrid, etc.), remind students to check their schedules on August 10 to assure they have the most complete and up-to-date information, to look for a welcome email from their faculty member with details about each specific course, and to check their D2L sites for updated information regularly. It is hoped that this direct communication will facilitate understanding and lessen confusion.
Second, I ask all faculty to send a welcome message to the students in each of your classes, regardless of delivery method, no later than August 10. This message should welcome them back to campus, and, if relevant, include specific information about how the course will run. For example, if you are teaching a hybrid course with synchronous delivery, you will need to determine how the first day of class will run. You might:
- Divide the class up alphabetically, with A-M attending on Wednesdays and N-Z attending on Fridays. It should then be communicated with students that the “N-Z” group should log into Zoom at the class time on Wednesday (our first scheduled day of classes).
- Meet with the entire class outside on the first day, in an area in which you can socially distance. At this class session, should you need to develop smaller groups in a different way (for instance, by groups working on small projects), you can develop the schedule at this first session.
- Meet with your entire class on Zoom the first day. At this session, you can discuss how the hybrid model will work, so all students understand the process and can ask direct questions.
This welcome message should give students all the information they need to know where they should be on the first day. If you are teaching a hybrid class with an online component, please be sure to include the specific Zoom information, keeping in mind that if your students are new to Radford, they may not know how to log in.
Third, if you are using D2L as part of your course, please make sure that the welcome message and any other pertinent information is updated and ready by August 10. For many students, D2L is a go-to place for getting class information.
Again, I am so thankful for all the work you have done for our students. This semester will be one of the most unusual that many of us have ever experienced, and I look forward to working with you as we navigate during this challenging time.
Carolyn Ringer Lepre, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs