Ohio University

Academic Planning Update 3-10-2020

Dear Colleagues,

This message is a follow-up to President Nellis’s email earlier today. We know this is a time of uncertainty that is evolving daily, but the well-being of students, faculty, staff is our top priority, followed by our commitment to our students’ education. While we understand that many faculty are away from campus and not obligated to work during spring break, we also know that many faculty are anxious for more information and to prepare for the upcoming week. We will continue to communicate regularly as the situation evolves and we have more information.

This message is intended to:

  1. Provide an overview of the plan to move instruction online for all campuses and locations of Ohio University starting Monday, March 16.
  2. Request that you plan to contact the students in your classes on or before Monday, March 16, and outline some minimum actions to provide educational continuity for your students next week.
  3. Share resources to help faculty move their courses online.
  4. Ask for your help: if you have expertise in online teaching, to work with your colleagues who have less online experience and to share resources you may already have across similar courses.

This communication does not address laboratories,field experiences, clinical placements and practica, performance and ensemble classes, or similar classes or activities. We will provide updated guidance about this and other issues in the near future.   

Overview of the plan to move instruction online

As noted in the earlier message from President Nellis, we are immediately suspending face-to-face instruction for all campuses and locations of Ohio University. We know that moving different types of classes online poses different levels of challenge depending on the type of course and the level of online resources already being used, and that this may require significant work for faculty who are teaching entirely face-to-face.  

We are asking all faculty to contact students in each of their classes on or before Monday, March 23 to share how their class will continue for the first week after spring break. You may contact students through email, the Faculty and Advising Center (available at https://www.ohio.edu/registrar), or Blackboard (blackboard.ohio.edu).

The goal the first week is to focus on the basic continuity of education for our students. For those who are not used to teaching online, this could include something as simple as a reading assignment, reflection piece, or a discussion board (or other activity as appropriate for the discipline) shared by email. For those who already used Blackboard extensively, only minor adjustments may be needed for the first week. And for those teaching online courses, there will likely be no disruption. We understand that it will take many faculty time to prepare to move completely online, and we hope that focusing on basic continuity the first week will provide the necessary time to help faculty prepare a plan to teach online moving forward in a way that is possible in these rapidly changing circumstances, but that still meets the outcomes of the course.

Resources to help move courses online

Resources for preparing to teach online are available at https://www.ohio.edu/keep-teaching, and information on working remotely for https://www.ohio.edu/keep-working. We will continue to develop these resources in the coming weeks, as well as to share resources that other institutions have developed. Updates will continue to be posted at https://www.ohio.edu/university-continuity.

We have asked each college to identify a college-level contact, departmental/school/division-level contacts, and any available college-level support for moving courses online to form a core group to support moving classes online. We are also preparing workshops for faculty that will begin the week of March 16. More information about this support will be available soon.

Request for help

We recognize that this is a significant undertaking for our faculty and students, and we're asking for university-wide, campus-to-campus expertise and collaboration during this difficult time from those who are willing to help and support their peers. If you have expertise in online teaching, are willing to help colleagues who have less online experience, or to share resources you may already have from similar courses, please contact Robin Muhammad (dearmon@ohio.edu).

Finally, we recognize the some of our students, faculty, and staff may not have consistent and reliable access to computers and broadband that they have while on campus. We are working on guidance and support for those students and ask you to be flexible with student needs as we develop these plans. For now, facilities on all campuses remain open, and students, faculty, and staff have access to campus resources. While on campus, it is important to observe the health guidelines share in President’s Nellis’s email; of course, if you are ill, please stay home.

Please share this information with graduate teaching assistants, who may not be included on faculty lists. There are many issues in development, and we will continue to share updates. Some areas you might have questions about which we will provide additional information in the future include:

  • Student support services: Academic support services, including student accessibility services, tutoring, and similar are planning to deliver services online
  • Student employees: guidance is being developed and will be shared soon
  • Research: The VP Research office is developing guidance on labs, human subject research, and similar issues
  • FAQ: We are developing an FAQ for faculty, staff, and students


We are grateful for your patience as we work to ensure our students’ continued academic success in this challenging environment.  

Robin Muhammad
Chair, Faculty Senate

Elizabeth Sayrs
Executive Vice President and Provost