FAQ: Remote Teaching for Spring 2021

Classroom Recording Questions

This is for inclusivity: we want to make sure that students who are alone in quarantine/isolation don’t feel left out. We want to help them keep up with their education as best as possible, understanding that a recording is not an ideal substitute. We recommend every class be recorded for several reasons.  First, if a student isn’t there at the start of the class, will you know if the student is just running late, or if they have been asked to quarantine and you haven’t been informed yet of that decision? Second, if you only record a class if a student is absent for reasons related to the pandemic, this puts the student in a position where they might feel that they have to disclose more information about their personal circumstances than they might be comfortable sharing. Third, recording all sessions gets you in the habit, and makes it less likely you’d forget to record than if you are only recording occasionally. Fourth, students can benefit from that class recording even if they are present in the classroom; that’s been true pre-pandemic and still true now.
Keep in mind the recording does not have to be perfect; the goal is just to be adequate, so that a student who misses class for a pandemic-related reason has some ability to keep up. Or really for any reason; students living off campus have a wide range of home situations, internet reliability, and time zones.

No. In this situation, we recommend you get a student note-taker and have the notes available to students who need them.

This is a constructive suggestion, and you are welcome to make your notes available. You may still want to consider if students would like a recording as well – if, for example, you make thoughtful off-the-cuff remarks that aren’t in your notes.

The CFDE recommends that all recordings be made available to your full class via Canvas, which ensures that they all have access but that nobody else gets that access. Your specific school may have a policy about whether this is required or whether you can just give the recording to students upon their request. If you decide the recordings are available upon request only, please be thoughtful and respect the requests without demanding students explain their particular need.

Maybe, with caution. If the recording is only of yourself, then you can use the recording for whatever purpose you like. For example, many instructors may be recording asynchronous lectures this semester, and you can use those recordings for future semesters. However, if any students appear in your recording (audio or video) then you cannot reuse the recording for privacy reasons. This is related to the FERPA law.

Yes, that would be a FERPA violation! We recommend using this syllabus language (scroll down for specific language related to classroom recordings), which has been approved by Emory’s Office of General Counsel. This language makes it clear to students that they cannot share recordings with anybody else.

Questions about Teaching Online

Likely a mix of both.
Asynchronous content has an advantage of accessibility. Some students may not have broadband internet. Some may be trying to access your online course materials with only a cell phone on a limited data plan. Some of them will be in different time zones, some may have taken a part-time job. Some may be dealing with ill family members or their own illness. For these reasons, the CFDE recommends considering asynchronous activities for your course as much as possible: activities that can be done whenever the student has time. For example, replacing a timed test with an open-book take-home style exam that has a due date. Off-campus students shouldn’t be required to show up at a specific time for anything.
That being said, students in general crave some synchronous interaction with their faculty, as mentioned frequently on an April 2020 survey of Emory students. Likewise, some classes rely heavily on oral interactions, language classes being an obvious example. Having one synchronous class session a week is quite reasonable. For the synchronous classes, please refer to the above FAQ’s on classroom recording. Other options are to have synchronous office hours, or make it part of an assignment for students to meet synchronously with a partner or group of students.

With most students being off campus, it is important for instructors to be flexible with students. Be mindful to ensure consistency across different classes and with all students. Instructors also may wish to keep a running list of the requests that they have received and how they have handled each of these. This record-keeping may be helpful in maintaining consistency, particularly for large classes where there could be several similar requests across the semester.
A good practice is to consult with another faculty member to cross-check your decisions. For schools in which there is a department chair or Director of Undergraduate/Graduate Studies, these would be excellent people to help ensure consistency of decisions across classes.

Further advice on when you should say yes and when you should say no is at this link.

During Fall term 2020, close to a thousand Emory students took classes from outside of the U.S. Students participating in online education from abroad face unique hardships that require thoughtful approaches and understanding. The numbers for Spring 2021 are expected to be similar. The following factors provide useful context to consider when accounting for the specific needs of this group. This information has been provided by the Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives. Please contact global@emory.edu with questions.

Challenges may include:

Barriers to Travel to the US
  • Visa application processes have been disrupted by policy changes and by public health measures
  • The US has imposed entry requirements that prohibit most foreign nationals from entering the US following recent stays in certain places abroad, including China. 
  • For students who are able to enter the US, reasonable concern about the surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the US and in Georgia is causing some students to remain abroad.
  • Many students have unreliable internet connections, incompatible systems, or other technology-related limitations.
  • Accessing materials from abroad may not be possible given restrictions on certain sources
    • Google and YouTube are not available in China
    • Course and library materials for research assignments may be difficult to acquire
  • Emory is exploring hiring a vendor to offer IT services to alleviate some technical challenges.
    • Regulations about internet use (in particular, restrictions on the use of VPNs) and new US restrictions on the use of Chinese-made communications hardware have raised legal issues that the university is evaluating.
  • Participation in online classes that address topics considered sensitive in other countries can create risk for students in those countries, particularly when policies that censor internet content exist. 
  • Some students report dropping off calls or blanking out their images when courses address sensitive topics.
    • This concern is particularly acute for students in China, including Hong Kong.
  • Classes that include content with potentially sensitive topics may preclude students from participating fully.
Time differences 
  • Most of Emory’s international students are from China, India, or South Korea.
  • Time zone differences may limit course selections or pose challenges to regular attendance.

When students studying from locations abroad encounter these issues, our community should extend compassion and understanding. The obstacles they face to pursuing their studies are substantial, and it is essential they know that Emory is sensitive to the challenges that the pandemic has created for them.

Possible approaches  
  • Recognize these challenges openly in class
  • Include a statement acknowledging these issues in the course syllabus or other class materials
  • Allow students to be logged into classroom activities using only their first name or other signifier to retain anonymity
  • Develop alternate ways for students to access materials if standard methods are not available
  • Incorporate flexibility in attendance policies for issues related to time zone differences and/or sensitive content

The best and most up-to-date information will be at Emory’s Department of Accessibility’s website.

We recommend asynchronous and untimed assessments where at all possible. If you feel that a proctored and timed exam is the only option, see Emory’s advice for the Respondus Monitor option. This can handle some of the testing accommodation needs, such as extra time for taking an exam. Emory’s Canvas team is happy to help instructors get set up to use it — you just need to reach out to them (by email classes@emory.edu or making an appointment here). 

If you are giving timed Canvas quizzes, there is advice on managing extra time accommodations posted here.

Other Questions

Yes, but it is probably more trouble than it is worth. Both you and those students would have to be cleared for returning to campus, which of course is true for students living on campus but less clear for students who live off campus. Most or all campus buildings are keycard access only this semester, so you should plan to meet with those students outside. All this being said, be mindful of fairness for students who are unable to meet with you in person, whether because they live away from Atlanta or have underlying health conditions preventing them from taking a chance on coming to campus. If you provide opportunities for some students to meet with you in person, make sure there are plenty of opportunities for other students to meet with you online. Please also keep in mind that the whole point of having so many students take online classes is to keep the campus population density low, so avoid having a large crowd of your students come meet you on campus.

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