Recommendations for Teaching

Our goal is to help Yale faculty, teaching fellows, and students maintain academic continuity. In coordination with several campus partners, the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning supports Yale faculty members during any situation that requires academic continuity, with the aim of preserving an effective learning experience for Yale students.

FAS Recommendations for the Fall 2020 Semester

To plan for the Fall 2020 semester, task forces were formed by the Yale Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) to provide guidance for Yale instructors for remote teaching and learning. You may view the full directory of recommendations from FAS Task Forces here. For a curated list of specific suggestions, you can access here Building Community & Managing the Classroom, Academic Integrity & Honor Codes, Assessments, Remote Proctoring, Lecture Courses, Seminar Courses & Discussions, Labs, Writing “WR” Courses, Studio/Performing Arts/Collection-based Courses, and Language Courses. Below we highlight general approaches to academic continuity and planning.

Develop your continuity plans

To inform your teaching plans for academic continuity, we encourage you to start by considering your learning goals for students. For a given class, assignment, or assessment, how do you intend for your students to be different after engaging in the task or experience? Specifically:

  • What knowledge will students attain?
  • What skills will students learn?
  • What viewpoints will students develop?

As you consider alternative means of conducting your course (such as web conferencing, videos, discussion boards, or written assignments), prioritize the approach that will help your students achieve the learning you intend. For instance, could a class debate that is typically conducted in person be facilitated via Zoom?  Could a step-by-step video of a lab technique substitute for an in-person demonstration? We encourage you to be creative and flexible as you consider the best ways to help your students meet the learning goals of your course.

Organize your course site

Canvas is Yale’s learning management system (LMS). This platform allows instructors to organize a course online. Canvas includes several features to facilitate online communication between instructors and students, in the event of a situation that prevents you from holding your class in person. Instructors can also use Canvas to upload assignments, quiz students, grade completed work, place readings electronically on Course Reserves, and much more. Learn more about Canvas.

Connect with your students

Zoom allows you to set up a virtual classroom where you and your students can see and speak with each other in real time. Additional collaboration tools, including video breakout rooms, screen-sharing, polling, and group chats help create a dynamic online learning environment. As appropriate and guided by departmental and school recommendations for recording, instructors can record and post Zoom sessions so students can review the content at their own pace or in the case of an absence. Learn more about Zoom.

Provide accessible course materials

Yale is committed to ensuring all learners have access to educational content in the event of an unexpected campus closure. Ally is a tool integrated into Canvas that offers feedback on the accessibility of digital course materials and provides multiple ways to remediate, or fix, detected accessibility issues. Learn more about using Ally to improve the accessibility of your digital course materials.

Instructors should also review the information provided on the Student Accessiblity Services website. ADA regulations apply to all courses, whether residential, online, or online temporarily in the case of a disruption to normal campus operations.

Avoid non-Yale supported technology

The Poorvu Center is dedicated to working with all Yale faculty as they teach during the 2020-21 academic year and beyond. Contact the Poorvu Center if you need help identifying and implementing solutions for remote teaching. To avoid compromising the integrity of Yale’s secure networks, systems and institutional data, you should not implement new platforms or resources (free or paid) for Yale teaching without consulting with the Poorvu Center or Yale ITS. Unvetted platforms, tools, or resources pose a data privacy risk as well as legal risk related to FERPA and digital accessibility policies. Accounts created on systems outside of Yale’s vetted resources may impact the security of our students or faculty. Companies often monetize the data they collect – including the intellectual property you submit on unvetted platforms.

If faculty or students are interested in using platforms, the Poorvu Center would love to know about the platform and can work to approve it through Yale ITS, the Office of General Counsel, and Risk Management. Remember, free is never free! Please do not require students to use platforms unvetted by the University.