Ohio University

II. Academic program delivery– Ensuring robust learning experiences for our students

Principle 4: Ohio University students must be able to take high-quality courses in modalities that are appropriate to core learning outcomes, adapt to varying learning styles and abilities, and prioritize learning space availability. 

Recommendation 4.A: Classes for undergraduate and graduate students are the top priority for space utilization for those classes that require elements of face-to-face learning. [See Appendix C: Student Experience/Student Life]   

  • Maximize each campus’s space portfolio to support academic requirements. 
  • Optimize space for courses regardless of facility primary department. 
  • Follow public health guidelines for safer density, resulting in new classroom capacities for scheduling courses; re-assign courses to appropriate spaces. 
  • Transition high enrollment courses to a different delivery model (blended, digital delivery, additional smaller sections, etc.). 

Recommendation 4.B: Reduce maximum occupancy of all occupied learning spaces including classrooms, laboratories, studio/creative activity spaces, workshops, practice rooms, and group learning/study rooms (e.g. conference or seminar rooms) to ensure safe distancing. 

  • Address lab courses by discipline to creatively meet course requirements. 
  • For courses that require in-person engagement, assess space types for specific guidance for room function (Ex: dance studio spaces, science labs). 
  • Type of activity (clinical skills may require partnering, musical ensembles may require greater distancing, etc.). 

Recommendation 4.C. Academic units should target a goal that 50-60% of courses include a face-to-face component. [See Appendix B: Academic and Curriculum Scenario Planning Sect 4.B.2]  

  • Implementation: Department/schools in consultation with their college leadership should decide the format for individual course delivery that is optimal for their faculty and students. This process will need to factor in student learning outcomes, self-identified health sensitivities, and risk factors and availability of face-to-face instructional space. 
  • All fall 2020 offerings must be categorized as one of the following: 
    • Course is taught in entirely online format, in either synchronous or asynchronous manner. 
    • Course is taught in entirely face-to-face format, with some adjustments as needed to conform to social distancing protocols. 
    • Course is taught in modified face-to-face format, such as High Flexibility, weekly flip, daily flip, or online lecture + face-to-face discussions. 
    • High Flexibility (hy-flex) approaches allow for both in-person and remote participation by students and faculty, with the expectation that some percentage of the course would be entirely online (whenever appropriate) and that remote students would be able to participate in face-to-face sessions via video-conferencing technology.  The availability of such technology is currently limited across instructional spaces. 
    • For modifications adopting “flips”, face-to-face attendance is staggered to allow for social distancing whenever possible (for example, half the class might meet in person early in the week and the other half meet later in the week).  

Recommendation 4.D. Reassign classrooms to optimize available space for those classes identified as needing face-to-face learning modalities and ensure necessary technology and equipment are available. [See Appendix C: Student Experience & Student Life p. 4] 

  • Validate list of available spaces to be used for classes (e.g. Baker Ballroom, Baker Auditorium, Walter Fieldhouse) and ensure adequate space is accounted for other university needs (e.g. appropriately distanced student informal, study and dining areas).  
    • Ensure the descriptive data about learning spaces is current, (e.g. technology; physical features, such as maps, pianos, chalk boards with staff lines, etc. are in each learning space). 
    • For newly identified learning spaces ensuring that the room has appropriate technology for the faculty.  
  • Develop accompanying protocol to:  
    • Provide guidance for cleaning and sanitation of learning spaces.  
    • Establish ingress and egress patterns for buildings.  
    • Develop new room layouts/Determine how to update learning spaces to ensure students and faculty are socially distant, i.e., remove chairs, mark off seats, etc.  
  • Establish an Implementation team to guide and oversee the successful roll-out and consistency of space requirements and outfitting of spaces with necessary furniture and technology.  

Recommendation 4.E. Department/unit heads will use the Learning Space Course Modality Decision Framework and the Department/Unit Planning Tool (see draft in Appendix B: Academic and Curriculum Scenario Planning) to collate recommendations and guide the planning process for curricular delivery in fall 2020. 

  • Department/unit heads will consult with Office of the Registrar and University Planning to clarify safe capacities for non-classroom instructional spaces like labs, studio and other specific types of instructional spaces that were not assigned new capacities based on university recommendations for health and safety promotion.  
  • A process for specific programs to request the continuation of in-person instructional activities for specific students or groups of students in periods where the university is reducing campus density should be developed to ensure that critical face-to-face activities can continue and that students can continue making progress to their degree.  These include programs providing clinical experiences in the following programs: Nursing; Speech/Audiology; Physical Therapy; Music Therapy; Athletic Training; and the Physician Assistant Program. 

Recommendation 4.F.  Ensuring lower density classrooms will require some changes to class schedules. Any changes shall employ, as much as possible, a system-wide solution to minimize student disruption.  

  • Athens colleges and RHE will complete and submit a Course Change Request file and will provide their proposed changes using a consistent format that includes planned modality, meeting pattern, and instructor changes as well as information on special room requirements (e.g., lab, studio, others).  
  • Athens colleges and RHE will assign a point of contact who will solicit schedule change requests from the departments/faculty in their college or unit, submit one file for their college or unit, and respond to questions or concerns about their submission. 
  • All course change requests will be submitted to OneDrive no later than July 15, 2020. 
  • To limit disruption to students, students enrolled in courses that change format, meeting patterns, and/or locations will remain enrolled.  
  • On or around August 1, 2020, the Office of the University Registrar will email all students and instruct them to review their course schedule and look for changes.   
  • Each college and regional campus will email students after the Registrar message goes out and offer advising support for any student who is concerned about any changes to their schedule. 
  • Subsequent pre-fall messages from the Office of the University Registrar will remind students to review their course schedule for changes. 

Principle 5: The First Year experience is critical to continuing success of our students.

Recommendation 5.A. Learning community seminars (UC 1900 and PSY 1090 sections) for incoming first-year students should be given priority for face-to-face or flexible delivery to assist first-year students in developing supportive and academically oriented networks. 

Recommendation 5.B. Most courses with enrollment capacity above 70 should be taught entirely online, with some exceptions for large lecture courses with high enrollment of first-year students to be taught in modified face-to-face format, depending on classroom availability. 

Principle 6: Additional resources will be offered over the summer and throughout fall semester to support faculty and to provide the highest quality educational experience for students. 

Recommendation 6.A. In order to maximize the engagement of students and optimize available classroom and learning spaces, training and resources should be provided to assist faculty in developing a) “flipped” classroom methods; b) hybrid-flexible delivery methods; and c) online assessment and/or alternative assessment methods. Develop and offer instructor training on the Hybrid-Flex course development model that enables quick pivoting for modality changes and make such a workshop available over the summer. OII offers “flipped” classroom and other online teaching workshops and assistance this summer. 

  • Develop short, clear web pages explaining Hybrid-Flex options backed up by HELP-line expertise to provide self-driven and nimble training resources. 
  • Enhance the communication strategy for updating faculty on fall curricular planning, updates and decisions, and resources for faculty and staff. OII is updating the Keep Teaching site to provide such updates. 
  • Share recommendations for online or remote assessment using current tools or consider additional tools given faculty feedback on current tools. OII currently offers recommendations, best practices, and training for online assessment in courses. Consider expanding recommendations for larger in-person or blended courses. 
  • Solicit faculty feedback from spring terms about current tools for online test-administration to address concerns and issues using Proctortrack and investigate alternate test-administration options. 
  • Investigate providing students access to software required for courses typically available in computer labs if the university moves to remote-only instruction at some time during the term. 

Recommendation 6.B. Recognizing the disparate manner in which some students may be impacted by any one modality, support must be provided to faculty to understand the potential impacts to students. 

Recommendation 6.C. Develop a process for transitioning large courses to remote instruction with teams from the Office of Instructional Innovation (OII), Office of Information Technology (OIT), University Libraries, and Student Accessibility Services to assist faculty responsible for courses.  

Recommendation 6.D. Provide a consultation/support team of OII and University Libraries experts to assist instructors with difficult courses for remote instruction (e.g. chemistry and ceramics) to investigate solutions and technology, build online approaches, etc. 

Principle 7: Ohio University will provide resources to students, faculty, and staff to facilitate the planned remote finish of fall semester, and to ensure continuity of education in the event of disease progression that necessitates early closure of a campus or location.

Recommendation 7.A. All courses will use Blackboard to provide, at a minimum, posting of the course syllabus, instructor-provided course documents that would normally be distributed in a face-to-face class, and contact information.      

Recommendation 7.B.  Launch a Blackboard course template that allows Ohio University students to have a more consistent student experience and eases the burden on faculty for communicating general use of Blackboard for course management and/or remote instruction. *   

*OII, OIT and the Library are currently developing a template.    

  • Expedite implementation of the Blackboard template and communicate expected date of Blackboard availability to fall instructors as soon as possible. 
  • When available, communicate the format, purpose, and content of this template as a resource for instructors. 
  • Make Blackboard courses available earlier for fall term.  Provide easily accessible, Blackboard -knowledgeable HELP staff so students and faculty can quickly resolve Blackboard obstacles.  Because of the tight timeline, we should focus on enhancing the smooth functioning of existing software rather than introducing new software and new platforms. 
  • Provide online Blackboard training for TAs/GAs, facilitators, staff, and faculty on Blackboard basics as well as quick instructions on tasks (e.g., making BB groups, adding users and roles for people who can alter content).  OIT currently has these resources available. Communicate these opportunities to departments and instructors. 

[See Appendix B: Academic and Curriculum Scenario Planning Sect. 4.D.1] 

Recommendation 7.C. Develop academic department/unit-level “backup plans” that outline flexible contingency plans, should the need arise to shift to remote instruction at an earlier point of the semester than November 20, or in the event of instructor illness or required isolation/quarantine. 

  • Each academic department or school should develop back-up or coverage plans in the event an instructor becomes ill and/or goes through a period of self-isolation. 
  • Ensure that every class with face-to-face components should have a plan to shift to remote instruction, if necessary, if at an earlier point of the semester than November 20. 
  • Introduce department/unit-level re-evaluations of attendance policies in programs and departments in anticipation that more students will have illness-related absences. Encourage faculty to implement attendance policies that accommodate the needs of students who cannot attend class in person. 

Recommendation 7.D. Faculty and academic advisors are encouraged to use Teams or other video-enabled technology to conduct virtual office hours and advising sessions with students as much as possible. 

  • Tutoring and other academic enrichment meetings are also encouraged to develop online or remote delivery options to enable face-to-face interactions while maintaining reduced in-person meetings.  

Principle 8: Ohio University will communicate and clarify expectations, resources, and responsibilities to students, faculty, and staff.

Recommendation 8.A.  Launch a comprehensive communication plan with targeted messages to prepare students, families, and instructors to expect that much Fall 2020 teaching and learning will happen online or in blended modalities. 

  • Enhance communication strategy regarding fall curricular planning, updates and decisions, and resources for students (e.g., Keep Learning). Maintain and refresh the Keep Teaching site.

Recommendation 8.B: Require use of Blackboard for all first year Learning Communities and include instruction in the navigation and use of Blackboard for students. 

  • After development of common Blackboard shell, communicate this information to students directly in advance of the start of the fall term. 
  • Ensure maximum availability of Blackboard-knowledgeable HELP staff to address faculty, student, and staff concerns in a timely manner. HELP staff should be familiar with Blackboard implementation in all four major operating systems. 

Principle 9: Experiential learning experiences, such as internships, practica, and clinicals, are critical elements of many students’ education, providing hands-on or culminating experiences for degree programs and access to professional networks. Lead faculty/administrators associated with specific programs must actively seek and analyze information to conduct ongoing risk assessment for all participants.

Recommendation 9.A. Ohio University students engaging in learning activities away from our campuses should actively monitor and follow local situations and directives from local health officials. If there are situations in which local circumstances potentially affect planned learning experiences, students should contact their program administrator as soon as possible. 

Recommendation 9.B. If a student is ill, demonstrating COVID-19 like symptoms, or diagnosed with COVID-19, they should report this to their placement employer/site and self-isolate. They should also inform their program coordinator/director and follow all University notification protocols. In such instances, students should contact their primary healthcare provider and the county department of health in the community in which they are self-isolating. 

Recommendation 9.C. University personnel and students should limit travel between learning sites whenever possible to mitigate the possible risk of spreading infection. 

Recommendation 9.D. Program administrators (a term that, for this purpose, represents anyone directing one or more students in experiential learning activity) should actively collect and document information about any students engaging in experiential learning through their program. Necessary information may vary, but should generally include the following:  

  • Name and contact information for student participant 
  • Location of learning activity 
  • Name and primary contact for host organization (if applicable) 
  • Identification of any COVID-19 policies, procedures, requirements, or recommendations specific to the location of the experiential learning activity. These could exist for the organization itself or may exist for the community/state. 
  • In situations where personal protective equipment beyond basic personal items (e.g., a non-medical grade facemask or face covering) may be required and the organization does not provide them, the program will be responsible for providing them. 
  • Because some students may interact with high-risk populations, program administrators should evaluate risks for students and consult with others (department chair, dean, etc.) to identify if additional measures should be taken. Each experience should be considered potential increased risk of COVID-19 exposure due to regional disease transmission trends, special populations experiencing increased prevalence of COVID-19 (nursing homes, prisons, ICUs), or other factors. 
  • More specific guidance is provided in Appendix E, Attachment "COVID-19 Guidance for Administrators of Experiential Learning Programs”

Recommendation 9.E. Consistent with education/training recommendations contained in Section I – Public Health, above, program administrators should ensure students are in-serviced/briefed/trained on COVID-19 related precautions, either by the University and/or their employer/site, prior to beginning and experiential learning activities. 

Recommendation 9.F.  A clinical instructor (or other University personnel) exhibiting symptoms and/or who tests positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate and follow health directives and other guidelines for when to safely resume any in-person activities.  

Recommendation 9.G. Students participating in learning experiences situated in medical settings or other service-oriented settings are not to knowingly provide care to positive or suspected COVID-19 patients. Moreover, in unique settings where heightened levels of personal protective equipment are necessary, such equipment must be available to the student and Ohio University personnel (if applicable). 

Recommendation 9.H. If students’ learning experiences are materially disrupted because of exigent pandemic circumstances, they should be offered a program approved alternative option for completing graduation requirements whenever possible. Waivers, exemptions, or alterations of requirements should follow state and/or accreditation recommendations when applicable. 

Recommendation 9.I. Develop academic policies to facilitate completion of alternate course credit to address situations where learning experiences cannot be completed because of the pandemic but are required for graduation/certification. 

Recommendation 9.J. If face-to-face learning transitions to remote learning prior to November 20, strong consideration should be given to permit students to continue in their experiential learning activities, both on and off campus, to complete curriculum requirements for the semester if possible. This includes also being able to remain in a residence hall and receive culinary services as applicable. 

Recommendation 9.K. Implement a process through which approvals for high-risk learning experiences are granted or denied in situations identified by the program administrator as high-risk in comparison to the typical experiences of other students in the program or based upon local, state or CDC guidance. [See Appendix E: Experiential Learning - Attachment “COVID-19 Exemption Request for Experiential Learning Experiences”] In situations involving abnormally high risk, a program administrator must send requests to their dean for final determination.