Update from Boston University

Remote Teaching Readiness Plan

March 9, 2020

From Dr. Jean Morrison, University Provost and Chief Academic Officer

We continue to pay close attention to developments around COVID-19 and its potential impact on Boston University. In order to prepare for the possibility that classes may be unable to meet in-person, I have asked Chris Dellarocas, Associate Provost for Digital Learning & Innovation, to lead the implementation of a Remote Teaching Readiness Plan. This plan is designed to prepare and equip faculty to continue to deliver undergraduate and graduate course content if the University were required to cease in-person classes for some period of time.

If the University were required to close or otherwise cease all in-person meetings, it is our expectation that faculty will find the best approach to continue offering course content.

The goal of the readiness plan is twofold: 1) ensure awareness of the core technological tools we have in place for remote teaching, and 2) ensure that each school and college has the resources and knowledge required to support faculty in using these tools, and potentially other supplemental tools identified at the school/college or program level, in the event of a full campus closure. I know that some of you are already offering course content remotely; for those of you already doing this, please feel free to utilize the additional support described below.

Baseline remote teaching in case of an emergency campus closure should consist of faculty using Blackboard (or Sakai, in the case of Questrom) to host their course materials and receive student work, and using Zoom for remote synchronous class sessions. Zoom can also be used to hold qualifying examination sessions for PhD students and for dissertation defenses, if necessary.  Information about these and other resources is available on the IS&T website. This site provides a wealth of information about working and teaching remotely.

Every school and college has designated one or more individuals to serve as their Remote Teaching Coordinators (RTCs). The list of RTCs is included at the end of this memo. In the event of a campus closure, faculty would be instructed to contact their school or college’s RTC with any questions about remote teaching tools and capability. Boston University’s Information Services & Technology(IS&T), Educational Technologies (EdTech) group, and Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) will offer secondary support to RTCs to ensure that all faculty receive adequate and timely support.

The Education Technologies group is offering daily training sessions for faculty during spring break week on Blackboard, Sakai, and Zoom. These trainings will also be recorded and made available for on-demand review. We encourage all faculty to participate in a training at their earliest convenience. If this is your first experience with these technologies, I would encourage you to work with your RTC to test your deployment of the technology. In addition, IS&T staff are working to create Blackboard sites for any courses that do not currently have a presence on Blackboard.

In order to ensure that faculty have the necessary basic technology resources for remote teaching, we will send a short Digital Resiliency Survey to all faculty this afternoon. Please watch for a survey email from provost@bu.edu and complete the survey from your remote teaching location.

In summary, we are asking faculty to:

  1. Fill out the IS&T Digital Resiliency Survey from your remote teaching location
  2. Attend an EdTech training session, if needed, on Blackboard/Zoom at your earliest convenience
  3. Contact your school or college’s RTC for assistance with any questions on technology or adapting your teaching. Your RTC will send out communications regarding the suggested steps to prepare your courses for remote teaching.

Now is the time to begin preparing for how you would plan to deliver your course material and assessments through the remainder of the semester if a closure occurs. We also ask you to be flexible throughout this emerging situation, particularly with students who might have to miss some class time due to travel or health challenges.

I want to thank everyone who has agreed to serve as a Remote Teaching Coordinator for their willingness to take on this additional responsibility. I am also grateful to all of you for your understanding as we develop this new institutional process and for your continued support for our students and other community members during this time of uncertainty.

School and College Remote Teaching CoordinatorsQuestrom School of Business
Greg DeFronzo, Executive Director, Information Technology Services and Lecturer in Information Systems – gdefronz@bu.edu

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