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All University of South Carolina system institutions will be closed through the end of the spring semester. Columbia campus virtual instruction will continue through the conclusion of final exams in May. Details can be found on the coronavirus landing page.

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.

 

Announcing New 24/7 Blackboard Support for Faculty, Instructors & Students during COVID-19. This support is available anytime throughout the day, night and weekend.

Anyone, from any campus, in need of Blackboard support should call the Division of Information Technology Service Desk at 803-777-1800 and follow the prompts.

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.

  • Send an email as soon as possible to students regarding the following:
    • Course delivery change. Let students know how you plan to change course delivery from face-to-face teaching to virtual teaching.
    • 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 your response.
    • 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. Follow university guidelines as they are announced.
    • Check-in process. Let students know how often you will expect them to check their email or Blackboard
    • Students’ Communication Needs. Encourage students to share their needs with you. Students may be accessing the course through their smartphone only and some may not have reliable Internet service to complete work.
  • 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.

Evaluating where you are in your course content and how much time you have left is essential. Focus on your course learning outcomes, what assessments you have left, and what essential activities are needed. Prioritize.

  • Use tools that are familiar to you and the students, to the greatest extent possible.
  • Focus on learning outcomes and plan new goals: Set realistic goals and flexibility for continuing instruction under emergency conditions.
  • Prioritize activities and review planned assignments: focus on delivering those with the most significant impact on learning outcomes. Think about what you normally use in-class time for—think about your actual goals, not content presentation—and then consider how that can be accomplished. Does everything need to go online, and if so, what?
  • Determine what can be delivered synchronously versus asynchronously; asynchronous delivery may ease scheduling challenges, as long as the activity promotes the same learning outcomes.
  • Rearrange the course schedule as needed: prioritize what must be done, what can be eliminated. If needed, delay activities where face-to-face interaction is most crucial. Remember, you only need to prepare for one week at a time, not the rest of the semester.
  • Decide what you’re going to do about any high-stakes assessments, particularly exams.
  • Identify how you will give feedback on progress (video, annotations, virtual office hours, peer, etc.).
  • Identify any new expectations for students.
  • Replace physical resources with digital resources where possible. Remember that students who are not on campus will not have access to the library, and some will lack access to their course textbooks. If you can, substitute materials that freely available online.
  • Maintain normal course scheduling as much as possible. Hold synchronous activities during the normal class time to promote student engagement, but do not penalize students who cannot participate due to time zone differences, internet access issues, or similar factors.
  • Ensure materials are accessible and mobile friendly.
  • Plan Learning Activities to keep students engaged:
    • Decide what combination of activities will enable the student to achieve the stated objective(s). Be realistic under emergency conditions. Best practices suggest that a variety of learning activities results in better learning outcomes.
    • Write out a weekly narrative overview of what you plan to do - 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 as introductory overview you give in the first few minutes in your face-to-face course.
    • 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
      • “Discuss” (in writing) a relevant topic with classmates
      • Complete an online activity, assignment, or quiz
      • Participate in a synchronous learning session, either through audio, video, or text
    • Accessibility: Know your students’ disability accommodation needs and how to adjust

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.

Tools and Resources
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, not competitive and isolated. 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.

Tool Options

Category Description Tools (*supported by DoIT)
Communication Tools to allow faculty and students to communicate, share materials, check-in, etc.
Collaboration Tools to engage students and allow them to work together on projects and assignments.
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.

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
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.
Academic Integrity Tools available to check for cheating and plagiarism.
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 have eased access to digital materials.

The Library is ready to help instructors identify alternative materials they can use to fulfil 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.

In addition, several textbook publishers are offering free access to texts, including the following:

  • VitalSource, one of the largest publishers of digital textbooks is offering free access to texts from many of its publisher partners.
  • Cengage is a large repository of online textbooks from multiple publishers. They also have multiple .pdf quick start guides to help instructors’ transition to online teaching, as well as live webinars to assist you in teaching during the remainder of the semester.
  • McGraw-Hill Higher Ed is offering free instructor access to its online suite of instructional support materials for Spring 2019, discipline specific webinars, and offering e-books for students. They are also making available pre-recorded webinars on the pedagogy of teaching online, transitioning offline content to a distribute environment, and optimizing Blackboard with their online learning resources.
  • Oxford University Press is offering instructors free online e-desk copies for all OUP Higher Education imprinted titles as well as resources for teaching online and webinars on best practices in certain discipline-specific contexts.
  • Wiley Academic has partnered with VitalSource, RedShelf, Barnes & Nobel, and Follet to provide most textbooks available to students free of charge if students have moved online. For those of you new to telework, they are also making available Scott Berkun’s memoir about working from home A Year Without Pants.

Faculty/advisors 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.

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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