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Coronavirus: Get complete details about the university's response to COVID-19.

Office of the Provost

Keep Teaching: Academic Continuity Planning

This page describes options to continue coursework if meeting with students face-to-face is not possible. As extreme weather, natural disasters, or other unexpected events disrupt scheduled courses, the tools and strategies described here can minimize the effects of those unexpected situations and allow students to continue learning remotely.

Need Help? Help Sessions with UofSC Teaching Technology Pros

Your UofSC colleagues are ready to assist your remote teaching and preparation for online courses. Please see Assistance with Teaching Remotely for information about help sessions.

Get the information and context you need.

  • Campus closures and class cancellations during emergencies will be reported through the Carolina Alert system and the university homepage.
  • When unforeseen circumstances require prolonged campus closures, remote teaching plans will be announced by campus leadership and on the university homepage.
  • Check with departmental leaders for more details about their expectations for classes for remote teaching as administrators may want to have many of the department’s classes handled in similar ways.

Communicating with students is imperative and key to keeping students on track. Early and frequent communication can ease student anxiety.

  • Communicate with your students before the start of the term through email and Blackboard. Your communication can help clarify a number of areas that will help students succeed in your class:
    • Course delivery change. Let students know whether the course will be taught face-to-face, online, or in some combination. For online delivery, let them know whether they will participate synchronously or asynchronously.
    • Instructor contact information. Provide a few options for how students can communicate with you, if possible. Let students know how you will communicate with them and how quickly they can expect you to respond to their questions and concerns.
    • Check-in process. Let students know how often you will expect them to check their email or Blackboard
    • Technology needs. Identify the specific technology students will need to complete coursework (e.g., computer, internet, webcam, mic, speakers, smartphone, etc.). If using Blackboard, suggest that students download the Blackboard App to their smartphone, if possible.
    • Attendance expectations and attendance requirements. Make sure your expectations match university attendance policies. If circumstances require changes in your course or delivery method, follow university guidelines as they are announced.
    • Students’ Communication Needs. Encourage students to share their needs with you. Students studying remotely may be accessing the course through their smartphone only, and some may not have reliable internet service to complete work. Knowing how students are accessing the course materials may help your communication efforts.
  • Communicate regularly with students about assignments, procedures, expectations, and ongoing progress toward course goals.
  • Contact students as soon as you have updates or decide on any large changes for the course.
  • Give students many opportunities to share their lives and concerns as well as their questions about the course. More two-way communication with your students will lead to greater engagement and more effective teaching.

Develop a plan for your course and consider the following suggestions:

  • Determine your course delivery format: face-to-face; asynchronous online; synchronous online; blended; hybrid; hyflex; etc.
  • Think about your course design.
    • Consider your audience to determine the scope of your material.
    • Review your course goals and learning outcomes.  Be sure that your learning outcomes are measurable.
    • Select your readings, resources, activities and assignments.
      • Decide what combination of activities will enable your students to achieve the stated outcomes/objectives. Best practices suggest that a variety of learning activities results in better learning outcomes.
    • Develop your course outline by creating an order for course topics.
    • Design activities and assessments that keep students engaged.
    • Plan your course calendar: the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) has course calendar templates available for you to use for your course.
  • Create your course syllabus: the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) has syllabus template available for you to use for your course.
  • If teaching hybrid, blended or online, consider writing out a weekly narrative overview of what you plan to do in Blackboard - a succinct synopsis paragraph of what will be covered, what to expect, what content to focus on, pertinent information they need to know, etc. Think of this narrative as introductory overview you give in the first few minutes in your face-to-face course.
  • In Blackboard, construct a list of all instructional activities for each week (a task or “to-do” list for students). Examples might include:
    • Read a chapter (or portion) from a textbook
    • Read an online article
    • Watch a video
    • Watch a recorded mini-lecture which you have prepared
    • Attend a face-to-face class session
    • “Discuss” (in writing) a relevant topic with classmates
    • Complete an activity, assignment, or online quiz.
  • Use tools that are familiar to you and your students, to the greatest extent possible.
  • Identify how you will give feedback (video, annotations, virtual office hours, peer, etc.).
  • Communicate openly and effectively with your students regarding your course structure, plans and expectations.
  • Ensure that course materials are accessible.
  • Accessibility: Know your students’ disability accommodation needs.
 

Are instructors required to give final examinations?

A course instructor is not required to give a final examination. Consider alternative ways to assess student learning. You may design or select an assessment that is consistent with course outcomes and well connected to learning experiences. Alternative assessments include: written assignments that students submit in Blackboard, student presentations through video or PowerPoint, electronic portfolios or other culminating projects. You may need to revise your course syllabus to specify whether a final assessment will be given during finals week or modify the course syllabus to include the new assessment. To convey that the assessment is comprehensive, an instructor may want to refer to this as the final comprehensive assignment, since it is not an examination.

When can a course instructor administer a final exam?

If you are teaching or have continued teaching a synchronous course (meeting at specified times every week), the registrar has assigned a time period for your final exam, and that time can be used as the starting point for the final exam.

For courses that are completely asynchronous, including those that moved to asynchronous delivery, you have more flexibility in when you administer your final exam. In either situation, instructors should be flexible when administering a final exam, considering that students may be in a different time zone or country, perhaps with limited or shared access to the internet or to a computer.

Please be aware that final exams cannot be administered or due on Reading Day or during the last week of classes. It is recommended that instructors not schedule an asynchronous exam in a tightly limited time period during the final exam period because of possible conflicts with synchronous courses (see the Registrar for synchronous exam schedule). For example, your final exam should not be scheduled on Monday from 9am-11:30am, rather it should be open for a window of one to two days even if the exam itself is limited to 2.5 hours. Blackboard testing tools can help to ensure the integrity of the exam. For more information on how best to utilize Blackboard for creating an exam review the Keep Teaching Website.

Is Proctoring available for my final exam?

Instructors have use of Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor or ProctorU for exam proctoring.

  • Respondus LockDown Browser locks down the testing environment within Blackboard.
  • Respondus Monitor uses the student’s webcam and video analytics to prevent academic dishonesty. Respondus offers training webinars for instructors on how to use their products and other resources for both instructors and students including quick start guides. It is recommended that instructors share instructions with students if they choose to use Respondus.  Respondus Monitor is available for unlimited use and there is no charge to students to use the service.
  • ProctorU allows students to take exams at times and locations that are convenient to them. ProctorU's services are accessed using a computer equipped with a webcam and internet connection, ProctorU verifies the student's identity, records the testing session, and has every testing session reviewed by a certified proctor to ensure integrity. An $8-14 fee for online proctoring, depending on the length of the exam, is paid by students directly to ProctorU during their exam. Instructors wishing to register an exam in ProctorU should contact Shannon Carson in the Office of Distributed Learning at scarson@mailbox.sc.edu. ProctorU resources including guides for faculty and students as well as recommended language to include in the syllabus to inform students of the test proctoring fee can be found on the Office of Distributed Learning Test Proctoring page.

Be aware that not all students have access to a webcam and the University does not have the ability to provide this technology.

Are there considerations for students with disabilities?

You should have received accommodation letters for students with disabilities who are enrolled in your course(s). Be sure to review the accommodation letters if you are providing an online exam. The most commonly used accommodation is extra time on exams. Be flexible. The length of time a student sits and views a computer screen can be problematic and students may need to use the restroom or stretch during a long exam. Clearly communicate expectations in a timely manner to all students (e.g., who to contact for technical issues, how the exam will be proctored, technology requirements, testing platform). If you have questions about considerations for students with disabilities, please contact the Student Disability Resource Center at SADRC@mailbox.sc.edu.

A student in my class is impacted by an extenuating circumstance that prevents them from completing the final exam during the established time period. What should I do?

Similar to cases in which you might assign a grade of “Incomplete,” you should use your discretion to determine the extent of the problem and if possible require documentation of the issue (i.e. a written statement from a physician, counselor, safety officer, or other qualified professional). Do not retain such information in your course records; validate and discard. Understand that technical problems might also be an extenuating circumstance. Using your best judgement and interest in the student’s academic success, you may arrange an alternative time period and date(s) that is suitable to the student and you.

When do I turn in grades?

You will have 72 hours following the end of your final exam to submit grades.

There are several options to continue instruction in the event of a campus closure, including live or synchronous class sessions; self-directed study options through asynchronous activities like readings, recorded lectures, forum discussions; or other possibilities. As the instructor, you will review your learning objectives and specific teaching goals and align these with appropriate activities for academic continuity.

Tips
Prepare your materials and activities that support the stated learning objectives and activities which enable you to measure the students’ progress toward achieving them. Keep materials phone friendly.

  • Contact the library for assistance with Course Materials Support including links in Blackboard to articles, textbooks, ebooks, streaming video, book chapters, and open educational resources.
    • Make requests through:
    • Identify open educational resources using the library’s Open Textbook guide.
    • University Libraries provides audio and video resources for streaming films and documentaries, visualized experiments, and educational tutorials in several subject areas. Contact Educational Films with any questions about available films and creating links for Blackboard.
    • Avoid copyright issues by providing links to content such as articles and videos rather than downloading and posting them. The library provides additional guidance on copyright concerns for online teaching.
    • Subject Librarians can suggest sources for finding online content to use in teaching as well as refer you to available services and resources in the library and on campus if you’re not sure who to ask.
    • Librarians can provide research assistance to your students by phone, chat, or video call. Direct them to the Book a Librarian service to make appointments online.
  • Good learning is collaborative and social. Blackboard has a Discussion Forum feature that allows you to set the stage for student-to-student interaction focused on issues that complement your other materials.
  • Online videos and multimedia: Avoid copyright and bandwidth issues by providing a link to the source rather than downloading the video and inserting it into Blackboard. You can also use the Library’s Educational Films Collection for content, public domain images, YouTube videos, websites, professional association videos, etc.
  • Recorded Mini-lectures (video or audio): Create introductory/explanatory videos or audio messages for weekly module overviews or content snippets.
    1. To keep students engaged with your content, best practices [pdf] suggest that video lectures should not exceed 15 minutes—OR LESS.
    2. Recording Tools (options)
  • Livestream Class Meetings and recording lectures:
    • Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a web-conferencing tool that allows you to create/record lecture presentations that feature your PowerPoint slides. It is in the tools section of Blackboard. It can be used to hold live class sessions, which can also be recorded and shared for later viewing. You can share your PowerPoints, files, screen, or a digital whiteboard. Students can chat or use a mic or webcam or call in on their phone. Blackboard (Bb) Collaborate has a polling feature to engage students and you can create breakout rooms.
Category Description Tools
Communication Tools to allow faculty and students to communicate, share materials, check-in, etc.

DoIT Supported Tools

Other Tools

  • GroupMe app
  • Social Media apps: Messenger, What’s App, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook
  • Phone Text Message
Collaboration Tools to engage students and allow them to work together on projects and assignments.

DoIT Supported Tools

Recordings: Lecture Capture & Audio Messaging

Tools that allow for live classroom lectures to be recorded and give faculty the ability to perform personal captures from their computers and/or mobile devices. Personal capture includes narrated (Voice Over) Power Points, videos of themselves, and recording of the faculty’s device screen.

DoIT Supported Tools

Other Tools

  • YouTube video capture
  • Screencast-o-matic
  • Screencastify
  • Use laptop webcam
  • Smartphone videos and voice messages
Web Conferencing (Synchronous Meetings)

Tool that allows you to hold live meetings, presentations, virtual
office hours, etc. Faculty can:

  • Share content
  • Share whiteboard
  • Share screen
  • Record

DoIT Supported Tools

Other Tools

Streaming Video Tools that provide an online collection of movies, 
documentaries, educational films, etc.
Learning Management System The campus' learning management system is used to help faculty create effective online course materials such as quizzes, discussion forums, assignments, etc.

DoIT Supported Tools

Academic Integrity Tools available to check for cheating and plagiarism.

DoIT Supported Tools

Course Materials The library provides assistance with course materials including scans or links in Blackboard to articles, textbooks, ebooks, streaming video, book chapters, and open educational resources. Some textbook publishers provide access to digital materials.

The Library is ready to help instructors identify alternative materials they can use to fulfill the same requirements as the textbook. Contact ecirc@mailbox.sc.edu with requests or questions. For further information on this service, please visit the library course materials section.

Faculty can submit names of students who do not have the technology to do remote learning. Please complete the form below and someone will contact you with options.

Note:  If a student indicates a need for internet connectivity, please refer them to this website, which lists several companies who are providing free or discounted internet access. Please use this referral form for more help if needed.

Unfortunately, the university is unable to offer direct help to improve internet connectivity speed at places of residence. In order to improve internet speed, students and those using the same network should try to limit the number of devices using the home network at the same time that students are attending class or doing online homework. In addition, students and those using the same network should avoid streaming videos and using games that consume large amounts of bandwidth while others are conducting work or attending class.

 
Tips for Successfully Completing Courses Remotely
  1. Know the Technical and Course Requirements. Confirm all technical requirements and become familiar with all the technologies, websites, and campus resources you may need to use to complete the coursework. If you have trouble accessing the course or if you have trouble finding course materials, contact your instructor as soon as you can.
    1. If you do not have access to electronic devices and/or internet to complete the coursework, contact your instructor immediately.
  2. Have Correct Expectations. Remotely delivered or online courses have the same academic rigor as their face-to-face counterparts. 
  3. Stay Focused. Establish a good workspace, for example, a quiet place with a good internet connection, access to power, and freedom from distraction. 
  4. Manage Your Time Effectively. Plan to work on your courses like you would if you needed to attend an in-person class. 
    1. Figure out study habits that work for you. Be prepared to spend sufficient time on your course. Get an early start on course assignments. Don’t procrastinate and work ahead on your course assignments when you can.
    2. Create a Calendar with Due Dates. Create a schedule with due dates and plan how you will manage your time. Use a calendar to stay on top of your coursework. 
    3. Log into your course and check your email every day. Read the announcements in your course to see if new information has been conveyed. If you are expected to participate in discussion boards, check to see who has replied to your posts. Be sure to check your email often. If your instructor is using Blackboard, note that the system uses your @email.sc.edu by default. 
  5. Stay Organized. Take good notes while reading or watching online lectures. Keep a copy of anything you submit. 
  6. Interact with your Instructor and Peers and Stay Connected. Interactions with peers and your instructor are critical to having a rich, engaging experience in the course. Stay connected to your instructors and peers through frequent communications, such as discussions, email, web conferencing, and social media. Connect with instructors by taking advantage of virtual office hours. Interact with your classmates to help you stay motivated and positive. 
    1. Set expectations regarding communications. Let your instructor know the best way to contact you and use the appropriate format for communication (e.g., email for one-on-one questions, discussions board if the question may be relevant to the whole class, etc.)
    2. Be polite and respectful. You are expected to treat your instructor and peers with respect and communicate with your instructor and peers in a professional manner. 
  7. Seek Help When Needed. When enrolled in a remotely delivered or online course, remember your instructor is available to answer questions about the course and its content either through email of virtual office hours. Learn what campus resources are available for online students and who to contact for help when needed. If you have special needs or access issues, contact your instructor or the Student Disability Resource Center, if applicable. 
  8. Be honest. Academic integrity is very important to the Carolina Community. We expect you to approach your work with honesty, integrity and follow the values in the Carolinian Creed

Downloadable Tips for Students

Other important Reminders

Some software companies are offering products for free or at low cost, or may offer extended features, during COVID-19 to faculty, instructors, students, and institutions. You should not make plans that require these products. Please see Myscedu for software UofSC has available to students and employees; these products have been approved through proper state of South Carolina purchasing and licensing procedures.

Why?

  • These offers usually entail terms and conditions, including End User License Agreements (EULA) which constitute a contract that university personnel are not authorized to sign or otherwise agree to, per University Policy BTRU 1.04 – Authority to Sign Contracts.
  • These offers may require our students to accept terms and conditions or EULA which UofSC cannot impose upon students.
  • These offers may have date limits or other situational limitations (such as terminating access when we return to campus-based instruction) that UofSC cannot predict or commit to.
  • These offers may obligate the university to information technology work that cannot be guaranteed.

Process to Request Software

  • Please note that a request for software approval does not commit UofSC to a purchase, nor guarantee a date when the software will be available for use.
  • If you believe a product is critical to instruction, please request your Dean of Chancellor consider, approve, and prioritize it within your organization’s continuity of operations plan.
  • Requests approved and prioritized by a Dean or Chancellor will be advanced by their designee to Purchasing and Division of Information Technology for processing; advancement to these units does not constitute approval. Their processes adhere to State of South Carolina guidelines and these units are also subject to circumstances and constraints beyond their control during COVID-19.

When teaching, learning and working from home it is important to be cognizant of cybersecurity. The Division of Information Technology has developed a page with a variety of tips to keep your cyber environment secure.

The Division of Information Technology has made available Security Guidelines for using Zoom.

All faculty members should prepare for the possibility of an interruption to face-to-face instruction and build alternative instruction strategies into their course.

  • Consider introducing remote learning tools and practices early each semester.
    • Encourage all students to try a web conferencing tool during the course.
    • Record a video lecture or narrated powerpoint for use in the course.
  • Set up additional instructional materials that can be used for remote teaching.
  • Have electronic copies of text material readily available.
  • Consider relevant statements you may want to include in your syllabi and review with students each semester.
    • Reserve your right to modify a syllabus when necessary.
    • Set communication expectations to inform the class about any changes when they occur.
    • Identify your expectations and procedures should classes be cancelled or moved to remote teaching.
  • Direct students to inclement weather, emergency preparedness or campus closure information.


Information about the NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19).

For Technical Support please call 803-777-1800

For Faculty Consultation please call 803-777-8322

This page will be updated as new information emerges.


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