March 16, 2020
Update Message to Humanities Community
In an effort to streamline and reduce the number of e-mails being sent out, I will collect important information for the Humanities community and send out as few e-mails as possible. Not every item pertains to every faculty member, postdoc, or staff member, but I will try to keep the overall message numbers low.
Point of clarification:
On the e-mail that was sent to the faculty on Friday evening, Caroline Levander asked us to clarify point #2. "Caroline was asked if faculty could stop teaching their students for the rest of the semester. The answer is no. We all need to complete the course material we have assigned on our syllabus and we need to continue to meet remotely rather than in person with our students, using the tools that make best sense given your course material and needs. In a very small number of cases, completion of course requirements may not be supported by any form of remote delivery. After exploring all options, please contact Kathleen Canning immediately if this is the case."
Having classes meet during regular times, but delivered remotely, is to protect student schedules so that they do not suddenly have conflicts of scheduling. In addition many classes require discussion and group in-class work and having everyone show up is important for course effectiveness.
But all courses do not have to be entirely synchronous. It may be that a faculty wants to make as much content as possible available to students asynchronously ahead of time and then use class time in a blended way to discuss this material.
Rice currently has online courses and degree programs that are a blend of synchronous and asynchronous teaching, and this is certainly allowable.
If you need individual training on the remote teaching software options, you may sign up here:
Scroll down to "Individual 30-minute one-on-one training sessions". And these may be done online if you can't come to campus.
If you revise your syllabus to reflect changes in your course (grading, class participation, etc.), please be sure to distribute the latest version to all of your students and upload a copy into Esther.
If your students are more than four time zones away, be creative in how you can include them in the course. Each student should be engaged. Here is a link to some tips and resources: https://oit.rice.edu/remote-teaching-resources.
Anticipating the Near Future:
All of the Deans are in close contact with the crisis management team (we met again via Zoom this morning for further updates). It is possible and indeed likely, that we will receive further instructions regarding the on-campus presence of faculty and staff as many major cities (and several universities) now go into near shutdown mode. We will keep you up to date, while trying not to bombard you with unnecessary messages. Please realize that we are all doing our best through this truly unprecedented situation and that we only expect you to do your best as well. If you are facing an obstacle with the delivery of your course content, please do write to Andrew Stefl and me: we are trying to trouble-shoot so that the central administration and IT do not have to answer as many individual queries.