Guiding Principles for Faculty

To inform your academic continuity planning for teaching, start by considering your learning goals for students. As you consider possible changes for a given class, assignment, or assessment, reflect on how you intend for your students to grow after engaging in a task or experience:

  • What knowledge will students attain?
  • What skills will students learn?
  • What view points will students develop?

We recommend prioritizing an approach that will help your students achieve the learning you intend. For instance, could a written paper that explores both sides of an issue achieve similar learning goals as an originally planned in-class debate? Could an already available step-by-step online video of a lab technique substitute for an in-person demonstration?

The Poorvu Center is dedicated to working with all Yale faculty as they adapt their courses. Email the Poorvu Center if you need help identifying and implementing solutions to continue teaching and sharing course materials/ activities. 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) without consulting with an educational technology or ITS staff member.

Communicate with students about academic continuity

Your first online class session due to unforeseen circumstances might feel daunting for you, your teaching fellows, and your students. As you adjust your class (e.g. putting your lectures online, creating discussion boards, using online forms of assessment), consider dedicating time during the first session to reflect on how the learning experience will change and to give students a chance to develop familiarity with the new format and tools. Although digital tools provide powerful, remote solutions for faculty to continue teaching, everyone will experience an adjustment period.

Below are a few ideas to consider as you introduce your students to your academic continuity plans:

  • Consider how you will welcome students to the new version of the class. You might send a welcome message by email, via a Canvas Announcement , or by recording a video message via Zoom. You can share the recording link with your students via email or Canvas.
  • Share your pedagogical goals for the new course format with students and ask them to respond to those goals or personalize them. For instance, you may share that one of your goals is to maintain a high level of student participation in the course and ask students to identify benefits and challenges to participation in the new format.
  • Share important details about the course’s revised format (i.e., the lecture will be posted online, there will still be weekly response papers but now students will post them in a discussion board for comment, etc.). Being clear about instructions and expectations will help alleviate stress related to change in the event of disruptions to in-person class meetings.
  • Create a discussion board or invite emails where students can share concerns or questions about their learning experience in the new context.
  • Ask students to outline or create a concept map organizing for what they’ve learned so far this semester. Your students might post images of these on Canvas and comment upon each other’s reflections. Instructors might leverage these reflections to highlight how the alternative version of the class will continue to build upon what they have already learned.

Information for Professional School Faculty

In addition to resources at the Poorvu Center, Yale professional schools have local resources available to assist with the transition to online instruction. Each professional school dean will communicate with faculty members to provide more guidance. The staff at the Poorvu Center collaborates with partners across campus and serves all faculty, teaching fellows, and students at Yale.

Sample message for a Canvas Announcement

"Together, we will navigate this transition! Our class time will look like this (Insert your details here), which is (SIMILAR/DIFFERENT) from our previous routine in these ways (Insert your details here).I'll communicate with you through (insert your mode of communication: Email, Canvas, Zoom Chat, etc.), and you can expect a response within (Insert your timeline for responses). My office hours are (insert your hours here) and you can sign up through (insert your details here - we recommend using Canvas). Lastly, keep in mind that Zoom class may be recorded and posted in Canvas for the class to review and/or for folks who were unable to attend. Please do not share these links beyond students in this course for our privacy and protection."

Adapted from a sample by Ekaterina Ginzburg, Director, Academic Support Unit, Yale School of Nursing

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